One thing about all star cheer – it’s a 365 day sport. And many of those days are spent at practice. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and when you know the whole routine inside out, upside down there is a better chance for scoring high at competition.
But there’s more to practice than just routine. Practice is a time to develop a team effort, encourage others and learn how to get along with people that you may not like outside of practice. Cheer practice is a great beginning to the life skills that will make successful young adults and beyond. You want to make every practice session count so you’ll be successful on the mat and beyond.
- Get to practice on time. Making people wait for you means that a you may not have as much time to warm up properly or your stunt group doesn’t get enough time to work together. Beyond that, getting in the habit of being on time is an important life skill for any class or job. Start now to become the person everyone can count on to be on time.
- Dress appropriately. Some teams just ask that you wear correct colors, others have practice wear designated for each practice session. All teams require the correct shoes and hair up. And remember to remove jewelry for your own safety.By practicing with your cheer shoes on and a bow in your hair you get used to how that feels. It’s different to tumble with your hair down than it does with a bow. Not to mention that cheer shoes are much lighter than traditional gym shoes.In addition, dressing like your teammates reinforces the “we are one” mentality bringing you all together as a solid, cohesive group.
- Drink plenty of water before practice. You’re going to burn up the practice floor so be sure you have plenty of water at least an hour ahead of time (give it time to digest). And when you take a break, don’t gorge on the water, but do be sure to get a small drink to re-energize.
- Be patient with your teammates. Not everyone has the same level of skills or the same perfection level at skills, especially at the beginning of the seasons. Practice is a time of growing as individuals and together at every session. Your patience will be appreciated and rewarded with friendship and respect.
- Be open to feedback from coaches. For your coaches to do a good job of bringing the team together, you must be open to feedback, evaluation, assessment and always welcome any form of a critique of your actions. When you show you are a good listener and try to follow through with the coaches recommendations you’ll be making the team stronger by setting a good example. This also means no dissing the coach when they aren’t around! Your coach will notice your hard work AND your potential to do more.
- Adapting to change. One of the traits of a coachable athlete is adaptability. Can you roll with changes to the routine or do you roll your eyes when you’re asked to take a different spot in the tumbling run? The goal at every competition is to max out on points. This often means that as the season goes forward, there are changes to the routine and to athlete’s part in the routine. Being adaptable means you’ll willingly take on any roll necessary to make the entire routine stronger.
- Troubles have no place on the practice mat. This is a tough one especially when you’re having a bad day. But the practice mat should be the one place you can let it all go and focus on the task in front of you: supporting your team! When you walk through the door at your gym, mentally leave the life drama outside and enter with a clear mindset.
- Respect your teammates. You need to make an effort to work well with your teammates, no matter how you might feel about them. Part of being a good team player is appreciating your teammates and the role they play. Even if you aren’t fond of them personally, respect that their place on the team shows that the coaches think they have something of value – respect that decision. Getting along with teammates now is great practice for getting along with classmates or coworkers you may encounter later in life.
- Have fun! Yes practice is hard work and yes you’ll be a hot, sweaty mess afterwards but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun! Your actions will effect your attitude so start by greeting your teammates enthusiastically, show you’re happy to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Stuck in a line waiting? Practice facials with your teammates – guaranteed to get you laughing! Smile when you are doing the “full out” just like you would if a crowd was there.
And here’s a quick tip: Don’t touch your face during practice! When you’re hot and sweaty ,you’ve been touching the floor / mat, touching your face will just spread bacteria. Keep a towel handy to wipe the sweat from your face instead!
All teams go through transitions from being individuals to being one unit. By doing your part at practice you’ll be helping bring your team together. The closer the team, the better the performance at competition. It all starts at practice.