Two cheerleaders are lined up side by side ready to start their routine. You can tell by looking at them, one is confident and the other is not. The confident cheerleader looks ready; she holds her head up high, her posture is lifted, she is focused, and shows the crowd that she is ready to attack the two minutes and thirty seconds ahead of her. The other cheerleader looks scared, she can’t focus on the task at hand because she’s nervously looking around in the crowd, her body language shows fear as if she could run off the mat at any moment. If you were to watch their routine, which athlete has a better chance of hitting the routine? You guessed correctly: the confident one!
Confidence is the feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. In cheerleading, one’s confidence can be shown by having the belief that we can perform the way we want, execute skills, as well as learn new skills. Being confident will not only lower levels of anxiety, but also help you to move on more quickly after mistakes, have more perserverance when challenged, and somewhat acts as a shield against some of the tough situations cheerleading and life in general, present.
Try out some of these tips the next time you’re in need of a confidence boost!
Let’s start with the little, but BIG things:
1- Look the part. Do your hair. Fix your makeup. Dress for confidence, find a look that makes you feel the best about yourself. When you feel comfortable, you’ll be feeling good, and you’re set up for confidence. If you think you look good, odds are you do.
2- Perfect your posture. Shoulders back, back straight, head high. Walk with a purpose instead of dragging your feet. Stress levels can decrease simply by having confident body language.
3- Smile. You don’t need to fake it, but a nice, genuine smile while doing activities will not only end up making it more fun for you, but also those surrounding you. Smiling is contagious!
4- Make eye contact. Our eyes showcase our attention and feelings. Making eye contact while cheering is important because your crowd will see that you want them, specifically, to keep yelling/cheering with you, or keep their eyes on you as you impress them with skills in your routine.
5- Have approachable body language. If you have your arms crossed, you’re telling people you are not welcoming them in, you don’t wish to communicate, or simply that you’re angry. Especially after a rough performance, keeping positive body language also shows sportsmanship and that you’re confident in fixing your mistakes for the next time.
Now, the BIG things:
1- Remember the past. Never forget where you started. You want to remember past successess in practice and competition because that drove you to where you are today. Hitting a stunt 10/10 times at practice, and it falling at a competition might only just be a fluke, look back to those practices where you hit, and keep your confidence in knowing you will do better the next time.
2- Create a highlight list. This list will contain any and all moments that you are proud of. Highlights can be big things, such as earning a bid to Worlds or the Summit with your team, or small, such as improving height on a certain jump. Big as in getting your back hand spring by yourself, or small as in keeping your legs straight going over in a back hand spring. This list will help when you’re getting ready for competition, about to learn new skills, or overall simply when you’re in need of a confidence booster!
3- Imagine success. Have you listened to your routine music with your eyes closed, and imagined every aspect of your routine not only hitting, but by doing so confidently? By reliving our accomplishments of our skills hitting using our senses, confidence can climb.
4- Encourage your teammates. A coach once said to me, “always encourage your teammates, for someone next to you could be having a harder time than you.” In doing so, you tend to forget about yourself for the moment, and their success becomes your success. When that happens, the confidence in yourself is raised, as well as your teammate. If you are a more advanced athlete, and show your support in an athlete who is struggling, the athlete struggling can see the “if he can do it, I can do it” side of things, where as you take away becoming a role model and as one that others can look up to, both creating and building more confidence in each.
The great thing about confidence, is that it is something that can be learned, YOU can teach yourself everyday to be more confident…it starts by believing in YOURSELF!