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Last week, we looked at the benefits that cheerleading can bring to your life. Today, I want to touch on some points that will enable you to fully reap those benefits.
Cheerleading is for everyone
How do you picture the body of a ballerina? What about an olympic weightlifter? Or a professional basketball player? They all have very distinctive traits, be that a slender frame, some bulk or exceptional height. A 1,60 m guy will have a hard time becoming a top basketball player.
In cheerleading, all body shapes and sizes are needed. So from a physical point of view, I definitely believe that cheerleading is for everyone, and I think everyone can achieve greatness in this sport. That doesn’t mean it’s equally easy for everyone.
Your body type, to a certain extent, defines the positions you can have on a team. A 1,80 tall girl (let’s call er Angie) is predestined to be a back spot, but what if she’s so skinny and untrained that she can barely hold herself in a handstand? Angie will need to work harder to be good in her position than someone who comes with an athletic build. Her body isn’t what limits her – it’s in her mindset.
How far can you take cheerleading?
Our back spot Angie could probably stunt on a reasonable level, just with the advantage of her height. If she was looking for something fun to do from time to time, she could be put in a stunt group with like-minded girls and everyone would be happy. In most (if not all) Swiss clubs, this is absolutely possible.
But what if Angie wants more? If she wants to be on a large team and compete at championships? Well fear not, Angie, because you can do that too. It takes time, effort and a lot of dedication to be on such a team, but I’ve never seen someone put all her heart and soul into it and then fail. We’re in that sweet spot with our sport where even if you only start cheering at the age of 20, you have the chance to compete at nationals and even world championships. All doors are open to you. You just need to take the steps.
What it takes to be great
If you want to be part of a great team, you need to put cheerleading first. There’s virtually no excuse to miss practice. You will miss (or be late to) birthday parties, spontaneous weekend trips during training hours, family reunions, maybe even vacations. You need to take responsibility and plan your life around training. You can’t expect not to sacrifice anything while trying to go to Worlds.
In addition to the 2-3 trainings you have with your team each week, you’ll need to do workouts and stretching at home. One additional tumbling practice a week would be even better. Of course, you can have some fun with your workouts! Go swimming, cycling, hiking, or to a trampoline park. But know that to be great, 2-3 training sessions a week are not enough.
Take care of your health in general. An injured cheerleader is no asset to the team if she can’t perform to her fullest potential. Be smart about your training. If you have an injured foot, show up anyway and work out your arms and core. Make sure to eat well, so you can build muscles efficiently. Take care of your mental health as well – 60% of cheerleading happens in your head, so strive to be happy, stable and confident.
That sounds a tad excessive.
I want to mention once more that everyone can do cheerleading, and you can absolutely join a club and train there without going through all of this. If you tell your coach from the beginning that you have no intention of modeling your life around cheer at this point, they will thank you for your honesty and put you into a group with like-minded people. You can probably even compete with them in a Groupstunt category with just the four of you on the mat, and everyone will be happy.
If, however, you find yourself jealously glancing over to where the squad is training for their routine, keep in mind that they took the conscious decision to put their life on hold to be on that mat. Never tell your coach that you’re all-in if in reality, you’ll miss practice once a month because you have other priorities. Cheerleading is for everyone, but competitive, high-performance sports definitely isn’t.
Are you ready to step up your game?
I want to know where you stand! I, for one, dream of having a competitive scene in Europe like they have it in America. Who doesn’t dream of having their own gym with hundreds of athletes, where you can work your way up through perfect progressions from level 1 to 6? That of course will only be possible once we have enough people who take the sport as seriously as described above. Tell me what you think in the comments, and answer my little poll here! See you next week!