Competition time! Mental and physical preparation.
Cheerleading competitions can often be long days (and nights) of loud, adrenaline-filled stadiums where athletes go to perform at their best. Safe to say that this environment can be a little overwhelming! As coaches, it is our job to prepare our athletes as best we can for competition time and give them the best mental and physical preparation possible to enable them to perform at their best. We tell our athletes to ‘trust your training’ and ‘listen with your eyes and ears’ as in these circumstances, trusting in your coaches and your team can help you keep calm and perform at your peak.
We find some athletes perform better in these circumstances, while others find it more difficult. There is no ‘right way’, every athlete is different and will react differently to competition time nerves. The best way to help your child if they are having a rough day is to work with the coaches to help them overcome their nerves, so they can get out on the floor, give it their best and most importantly, have fun!
Here are Evolve All Stars’ top tips to help athletes be mentally and physically prepared to ‘Cheer your heart out’.
Communication is Key
At Evolve we aim to develop routines that highlight each athletes’ strengths and minimize the chance of deductions. However, we understand that the pressure of a performance can sometimes get the better of you and we support you no matter what happens on the floor. All we ask is you try your best; we will be proud of you no matter what. We try to communicate this to you to ensure you know that giving your best shot and ‘cheering your heart out’ is what we care about most. Communication is a two-way street, so if you are feeling under pressure, talk to us and we will work through it together.
Before and during the routine, positive self-talk can be your best friend. Before attempting a skill or a stunt, positive affirmations such as ‘lift up taller, squeeze tighter’ are a thousand times more effective than ‘I’m going to fall’, or ‘I don’t think I can do this’. Small changes such as positive affirmations can become a huge boost especially if the whole team is following the same approach. Feeding off each other’s positive energy and encouragement can make all the difference to a team’s mental preparation. In in the end the aim of a routine is to HIT not to FALL so focus on want you WANT!
Sometimes in our journey to improve our skills we become obsessed with being ‘perfect’. The quest for perfection can make us afraid of mistakes and this fear can make us forget that cheerleading is a lot of fun! One competition won’t make or break you – your team and your coaches will still be there for you no matter what! Make sure you support your team mates during the routine if you aren’t in a section count for them to help them push through. The judges want to see the performance shine through not just the skills that you have learnt. If you are having fun on the floor the judges will notice!
A good meal the night before is extremely important, and snacks during the day if you are performing in the afternoon or evening. Keeping energy levels up is crucial as All Star Cheer is a high energy, high intensity activity. Competition venues usually have a canteen however the range of food is usually limited and the line can be very long so please don’t rely on canteen food as you may be disappointed. Bringing along some healthy, nutritious snacks is recommended to keep fuelled! Drink bottles are also crucial!
Being Nervous is Okay – but making other nervous isn’t!
Nerves are an unavoidable part of competitive cheer. It is perfectly normal to feel nervous before competing. While you may feel nervous, talking about how nervous you are can make others more nervous. Instead, it’s important to try and focus on how you are acting around your team mates, as both confidence and nerves are contagious – you get to choose which one you spread! By keeping a calm and positive exterior (even if on the inside we are nervous), you will spread this attitude to the rest of your team, which is a massive boost to everyone.
Trust your Coaches
If you are feeling nervous or anxious then your coaches can help. We are not only there to support you but to help you to support the rest of your team – we are all in this together! We don’t want the anxiety of the competition to take over your life – competition day is a fun and exciting time and a great experience. We are super excited and so proud to be sharing it with our athletes and our proud cheer parents!