How to try-out like a Colts Cheerleader

As a coach and mentor I now evaluate talent at the professional level and hope you might find  my 7 mental tips helpful as you prepare mentally and physically for “The Big Stage”.

1)     Be confident. It’s the most important skill. You have worked hard in the gym and taken care of your body through proper nutrition leading up to try-outs, so feel confident and let it show. Even in the warm-ups and practice areas, really dance with expression, energy and personality. Bring the choreography to life and above all else, enthusiasm. Stand where you can see and be seen without muscling your way to the front and being disrespectful to those around you.

2)     Focus on The FUNdamentals! Have fun and enjoy the try-out. The FUN of it is why you began to perform in the 1st place. If you find you are nervous then begin by practicing simple techniques. The Fundamentals…Those simple steps performed well will elevate your confidence allowing you to attempt the double or triple that may be required later.

3)     Routine, Routine, Routine. Have a routine during every audition that helps you get centered and focused. Practice this routine when you prepare as well!  Practice what you’ll wear, when you’ll arrive, where you’ll put your stuff, the items you may or may not need (e.g. extra hair bands, dance shoes, etc.)

4)     Set Goals, NOT Expectations. Strive for success by setting goals but don’t set expectations. Expecting “to make it” puts your mind in a time and place in the future. Goals are based on aspects in your control. You need to be present and in the moment during the audition.

5)     It is OK to make a mistake. It’s a long try-out and mistakes happen, but what makes all the difference is HOW you recover from the mistake. Don’t highlight your mistake in the moment by saying “sorry”, making a face, or even stopping. Smile, and move on. It simply says you understand your error and can even show that you are a fun person with a good nature and could make a good teammate.  Don’t revisit the mistake either, focus on what’s coming up, not what is behind.

6)     Be a Good Teammate. It’s a try-out, but show everyone and yourself that you can be a good teammate. Be gracious and courteous. You are being judged even when not on stage. Your interactions with the judges, other participants and dancers will be taken into consideration. Say “THANK YOU” after the audition in person if possible or with a written note. No matter what happens, have a smile on your face!

7)     Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain. Focus on the audition as an opportunity, rather than it being a threat. If you are worried about what is at stake, how you look, or how you might perform, then you will get nervous. However, if you focus on the audition as “something good can happen”, you’ll get excited. Don’t lose faith in yourself, always move forwards with faith not fear.

We want you to do well and you want to do well. Cheer everyone on for a successful audition!

Sean BartramAbout The Author: Sean Bartram B.Sc (hons.), MBASES is owner of Core Pilates and Fitness ( and head trainer to the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders. A professional soccer player on 3 continents, PMA certified Pilates Instructor, Member of the British Academy of Sports and Exercise Science and has contributed to numerous fitness publications.  Follow him on twitter @CorePilatesLLC or at
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Dr. Rob Bell

Ahoy! I'm Dr. Rob Bell. Your Mental Toughness coach. Be The BEST at Getting BETTER. Will your Hinge connect?
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