Friday night football games are in full swing, the school days are flying by, homecoming is either coming up or already done, and now it is time to get ready for competition season! The beginning of competition season is stressful for every cheerleader. You have finally gotten the hang of the new school year, and now they are throwing something more at you, an opportunity to compete. Over the summer your coach might have had the team do certain stunts, jump sequences, or even a dance to different sets of 8 counts, all preparing you for this part of the season.
Throughout choreography, keep in mind that nothing is ever ‘set in stone’ for a cheerleading routine. Things happen all of the time within a routine that athletes switch places, have different roles, are moved, for all sorts of reasons. Any cheerleader who has experienced a teammate getting injured on the floor during a routine can understand. Look over the score sheets for the competitions you are competing at with your coach and after you go through choreography, make a timeline for your practices and set goals on different parts of the routine. For example, your team goal every day could be to run through the cheer full out, as well as yell the words during your warm up or going through sections of the routine successfully a certain amount of times each practice. With your routine, start with small goals as you did in the beginning of your season, and work your way up to the bigger ones. Everyone wants to hit their routine, you have to condition your routine as you did with your team leading up to this point in order to make that hit happen.
Once you start getting through your full routine, it’s time to start performing it to a crowd! Take the opportunity to do any events that you can start performing your routine, or even bits and pieces of it. The quicker you can start building the confidence in hitting your skills for a crowd, the better you will be in front of a panel of judges and competition. In the weeks leading up to your competition, practices should be ran the same way as they would on competition day. For example, warm up as you would ‘back stage’ of a competition- ‘set’ minutes for warming up tumbling, stunts, etc. Leave a gap in between warm ups and the performance just as you would at a competition as well.
Know all of the details walking into the competition. Your coach/coaches are probably about as nervous as you are this first competition, so let’s take it easy on them. 🙂 On the day of the competition, stay calm and keep your focus. Know where your coach needs you to be, and stay with your teammates. Perform like you have practiced. You have practiced everything in your routine every day it probably seems leading up to this point, be confident and believe in yourself and your team. When you get to the venue, look around and visualize yourself on the floor for when you take the mat. Any time you are at a competition, you are still representing your school/program, be polite to everyone at the competition, including the other teams and the staff working the event. When it comes to the awards, clap for everyone and have respect to wait to celebrate only when your name is called.
The last and most important thing to remember about preparing for competition season and competing, is having fun! Take pictures, laugh with each other, bond with each other. Hold on to all of the memories that you have of competing. Whether you win or lose at the competition, the memories are what will stick with you for a lifetime. The rewards will come, your happiness still should be loving the sport and having fun performing! Good luck this season!
“The secret to success is doing the best that you can do. Forget about whether you might win or lose. By working hard and practicing the skills that you need to perform, the results will take care of themselves. Being successful is about doing your best.”
-Barbara Ann Cochran – Gold Medal Olympic Skier