Learning From a Bad Performance

“I like the challenge of getting players to rise to certain levels, but that’s the easy part.
The biggest challenge is to get them to believe in what we’re doing.
They have to understand that it’s O.K. to have good days and bad days.”
Temple women’s basketball coach and former WNBA player, Dawn Staley


In most sports, but especially cheerleading, athletes are under the illusion that whenever we perform in our sport we always have to be at our best, flawless, and always perfect. When we’re not, we immediately think there must be something terribly wrong that we are doing. There are times when we don’t have the energy, might be sick, have too much on our minds, or just can’t perform to our best ability for whatever reason. The performance went wrong as a direct result of the technical, mental, or emotionally involved mistakes that we made. Then there are also the times when you have performed and done things right, felt good about it and for whatever reason the performance still went flat. Stunts hit, but timing was off. The ending pyramid was saved, but there was no energy in the dance afterwards. Tumbling was thrown and timing was together but people put hands down or stepped out of bounds. You weren’t “on” like usual and your performance reflected it. But hey, guess what!? There is not one single person who is ever at their best all of the time, every second, and every day! Everyone strives for perfection, anyone dislikes when things don’t go well, but every athlete is going to have those performances when you are far from perfect.
This is normal!

Competing in cheerleading is almost like riding a roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs, but that is the nature of the sport. Some days you will soar with the eagles, the next day you may gobble with the turkeys. These bad performances or bad days do not mean that you “stink” or that you are terrible or getting worse, it means you are human and everyone has off days! The trick to beating these bad performances or bad days is getting past them. The more you make it a problem, the more it will continue to be a problem. When you emotionally beat yourself up after a poor performance, or when you fail or lose, your reactions of getting frustrated or angry with yourself will only create a real problem, a domino effect of repeated poor performances. The best thing to do is keep your off days in perspective throughout your season and learn how you can build from them. Continue to stay positive about yourself, your team, and learn something from the mistakes that have been made. The off days teach us what we need to still work on, how to better ourselves, and without them there would be no learning or growing as athletes, which we can all agree that learning new skills is one of the most fun parts of cheerleading or any sport. After a mistake is learned, let it go so you can forget the off day or the bad performance, to get back to performing to your best ability!

Remember, there aren’t any rainbows without the rain! 🙂