Cheerleading is a unique sport in many ways. But like any competitive sport, cheerleading requires year round training.
When compared to traditional sport seasons, cheerleading overlaps all season, with the culminating event, being Nationals, Worlds or Summit, occurring in late Spring. This means, “cheer season” is usually a year round sport, with the summer being what many consider the “off-season”.
Some may see this as too demanding, or a faster way to burn athletes out. While these are valid concerns, when compared to any competitive sporting program, “cheer season” is run like any other sporting season.
Football for example, is a fall sport, with the final games of the season occurring in November and early December. After the final whistle of the championship game, these athletes don’t just hang up their pads until next seasons try outs. Just because it starts to get colder and it may start snowing doesn’t mean this is “off-season” until next fall.
Football players continue to lift weights, work on their endurance, perfect their passing and even work on tackling. Most player continue to train until try outs, or even play a Winter/Spring sport. Continued training keeps these athletes in shape and ready to tackle (pun intended) try outs. After try outs, players train even harder, attending summer lifting sessions and team camps. This is all in preparation for the fall season. Through “off-season” preparations, the team is ready to step onto the field and execute all of the plays they have practiced for countless numbers of hours.
Cheerleading operates under the same principles. During “cheer season”, coaches and athletes are working together to create a cohesive and successful routine for competitions. Coaches are relying on the athletes to take advantage of their “off-season” to work towards skills athletes will be need for the upcoming “cheer season”. Just like football players, cheerleaders need to train, work and perfect their skills.
Now this is not to say cheerleaders can never leave the gym. On the contrary, cheerleader should take advantage of the summer months to try a new sport, start playing an instrument or start a new activity that is normally put on hold during “cheer season”. Allowing athletes a multitude of athletic outlets allows them to explore their like and dislikes. Some may find cheer is no longer their number one priority. Others may be driven to attend as many clinics, special events and Open Gyms as possible before try outs.
Either way, “off-season” should not be viewed as a time to veg out on television, or cut loose from a structured routine. The cheer “off-season” should be viewed as a time for athletes to grow in skill, and in passion for the sport.