When it comes to cheer training, there are some corners you just shouldn't cut. Here are six traps to avoid if you want to reach your full cheer potential:
- Spending less time on your weaknesses. Michael Jordan once said that if someone points out a weakness to him, he is going to work hard on that perceived weakness until it becomes a strength. That’s the kind of attitude a successful athlete needs. Don’t avoid things you don’t like or aren’t as good at. Work at them until you get them down, and chances are you’ll start to enjoy doing them once they aren’t a source of frustration for you. This might mean you need to work on it outside of practice, ask for extra help, or research how to do a certain skill in our University.
- Neglecting your strengths. Just because you are working hard on your weaknesses doesn’t mean you can stop practicing your strengths. They became your strengths for a reason, after all. Neglecting them can cause you to backtrack, plus you don’t want to miss a chance to make them even better. For example, just because you have your splits and needle doesn’t mean you should stop working on your flexibility. Use success as encouragement to keep going, not a reason to stop.
- Cutting lines. If your team runs lines for conditioning, don’t turn around inches from the line. Go all the way! If you’re running laps around the gym, even if it’s just for a warmup, don’t cut the corners. Do the full thing. We've all heard the saying, “You’re only cheating yourself,” but that’s not entirely true. Cheerleading is a team sport, so you are also cheating your teammates. You don’t want to set that kind of example for your teammates to follow, and you don’t want to give your team less than your full potential. Cheerleading is tough. Don’t cut corners on these easy things like doing the whole workout. Cheerleaders cannot afford to be lazy.
- Stopping before you’re done. This applies to conditioning and skill work. Don’t jog those last few steps or go easy on that last pushup. Go strong through the very end. That’s when you can really get the benefit from the workout. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali said that he didn’t even start counting his reps until he got tired since that’s when it really started to count. Plus, someone on a rival team could be doing a similar workout right now. Don’t be the one slacking off!
- Skipping practice. Just don’t do it. Sickness happens, of course, but depending on the severity, you might be able to come watch practice still. This shows your teammates and coaches how dedicated you are, and ensures your transition back to the squad will go as smoothly as possible. The same thing goes for injuries. Your teammates know you could be at home watching TV while you ice your ankle, but the fact that you are doing it there at practice with them shows what kind of teammate—and athlete—you really are.
- Avoiding strength work. Some cheerleaders love to spend extra time on their own working on their fitness level, while others dread even doing the minimum amount of strength and conditioning work at practice. You can’t force yourself to enjoy something that you just don’t like, but don’t give up on fitness work altogether. There are plenty of ways to get and stay in shape—you just have to find the one that you enjoy.
What other corners do you see cheerleaders commonly cut that could be holding them back?