How To Survive: Competition Season As A Cheerleader

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If you ask anyone, “Do you think cheer is a sport?” most people will say no, it is not a sport. However, most of these people do not understand how much goes into being a cheerleader. Many people tend to think of typical football cheerleading rather than the competition side of it. Football cheerleading is strictly just cheering on the sports team at school and expressing tons of school spirit. On the other hand, competition cheerleading involves constructing a two minute and thirty second routine, to compete against other teams, and to win state and national titles. There is much more to cheer than wearing ten pounds of makeup and cheering on the sidelines at football games. Competition cheering can be extremely stressful and requires a lot of time, effort, and plenty of practice. Here are five tips to help you survive competition season.

Remember your Formations: One of the most significant parts of a competition routine are formations. They are the building blocks for the rest of your routine and forgetting them could mess you up or the rest of your teammates. One way to practice or memorize counts and formations is to go over the routine in your head while you are doing daily tasks. Go over the counts or repeat the words while you are doing the dishes, eating breakfast, or even in the shower!

Perform and Sell it: Something very small that scores major points on the judges score sheet is overall impressions. These impressions include facials, crowd appeal, appearance, and energy. Performing is extremely important to the judges because they want to see that you love what you’re doing and you are passionate about it. Your goal should be to make the judges want to come on the floor and cheer with you! The best and most simple way to practice your facials and overall impressions is at practice. The more you do it, they become a habit, and you will never forget to give your best performance on the mat.

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Stretch Everyday: Not only for flyers, but as a cheerleader your main goal should be to maintain a certain amount of flexibility. Most stunts in competition routines include several body positions that require a sustainable amount of flexibility. A cheerleader must possess lots of flexibility within their hips and legs to execute jumps and body positions properly. For example, to pull a scorpion in a stunt, you must grab your foot, and pull it above your head. The more you stretch, the higher you will be able to pull your foot. Some basic flexibility and stretching exercises include the seated hamstring stretch and the butterfly groin stretch. To do the hamstring stretch, spread your legs apart and reach to each side and the middle for ten to twenty seconds. As for the butterfly groin stretch, pull your legs towards your body and much as you can and put your hands on your ankles. Next, push down on both legs as close to the ground as possible. By completing these stretches once every day, it will greatly increase your flexibility and make it easier and more effortless to pull body positions.

Technique: One of the most important categories on a score sheet is technique. Proper technique is important because the judges do not want to see that you could simply do a specific skill, they want to know that you can execute it with perfect technique. It is important to practice it because when we use poor technique, our body remembers. By practicing and learning proper technique, we are training our body to use it all the time. Also, it is also essential master basic skills before progressing to more advanced ones because those basic level skills are necessary for higher level skills in cheerleading. For example, you can’t do a standing back-tuck if you haven’t mastered a back-handspring.

Determination and Teamwork: Although it may not be a category on a score sheet, this last step, I feel, is the most important one. Competition cheerleading requires a lot of time, effort, and practice. From learning the routine to performing it on the mat, it is a lot of work. It is crucial to be determined and stay motivated because cheerleading can become incredibly frustrating at times. By staying motivated, it encourages others to keep trying as well. Teamwork is equally vital because cheer involves a lot of working together and communicating. A car cannot run without all its parts working collaboratively, similarly to how a stunt cannot go up without the group communicating and working together.

After reading and assessing these steps, do you still think cheerleading does not qualify as sport? The actual definition of a sport is, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Does cheer meet this standard? (I think yes.) As competition season is coming season is coming up fast, by learning and using these steps, I believe they will point you in the right direction for an amazing season and most importantly, teach you how to survive competition season.

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