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I’m back in Switzerland and settling into my daily life. After a few days I finally found the time to write the second post about my time in the USA, this time focusing on some of the mental aspects that make these teams so great. For each of these aspects, I’ll add a tip on what you can do to up your game if you want to become a high performing athlete.
Being recognised as an athlete
The way you think of yourself changes your actions. The way others think of you can change how you think of yourself. If you start cheerleading as a kid in an environment like this Top Gun gym, people think you’re a serious athlete. Not just someone doing some jumping and screaming, but a real hardcore athlete. Every Uber driver that brought me to the gym and knew the place said something like: “Oh yeah I have some friends in there, those guys are crazy strong.” We need to bring ourselves to a level where people will think like that about us in Switzerland. Not by lecturing them, not by telling them that we’re serious, but by showing it through hard work and the way we carry ourselves.
Allstar cheerleaders are mainly around other allstar cheerleaders, because they spend so much time together. They all recognise each other as strong, independant, determined athletes, and they all carry themselves that way. They incorporated the “I’m an athlete” into their personality, making it their own and integrating it into their daily life. They don’t just do sports several times a week: they are athletes in their hearts. This makes a huge difference in how they’re perceived and how they see themselves.
What you can do to improve
Carry yourself like an athlete. Bring the things you learn in cheerleading into your personal life, to school or to your job: Be confident, kind, determined, show your fortitude, and lead yourself and others towards positive development. Don’t limit your athlete-mindset to the gym; take it with you when you go home and grow as a person, not just as a cheerleader.
Role models aplenty
Younger and lower level athletes train right alongside their idols in big Allstar gyms. Everyday, they see role models working hard to earn their skills. This automatically ingrains the attitude of a successful athlete in them. They know where they want to be in a few years, they can see it right in front of them, and they see that it’s possible to get there. They also see what it takes.
In Switzerland, many kids don’t even know what’s possible for them to achieve. We haven’t yet reached a level where you see greatness happening all around you; there’s usually only a few advanced athletes per gym. This makes it harder for them to strive for something, which in turn makes it hard for them to know what they need to do to get there.
What you can do to improve
Spend some time around athletes that you admire. Come to the gym when other teams are training and see how they work. If you want to know what’s possible, scour Youtube for videos of Allstar cheerleaders, their Vlogs or their behind-the-scenes videos. Keep in mind: All of these athletes started with nothing but a dream. They are people just like you, and you have the exact same chances of learning everything they learned.
The support system
This is a tough one, because American culture is very different when it comes to support in sports. In the US, sports are incorporated into the school system, and being involved in sports has higher cultural value than in Switzerland. Some kids can even (partially) finance their education through cheerleading, if they’re really good at what they’re doing.
Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge that they sacrifice a lot to be as good as they are. Some even decide to home-school, meaning they never get to experience going through a normal school day with their friends. This isn’t really an option here in Switzerland. But we also have decisions to make: Do we want to miss practice to go to a birthday party? What about holidays, piano lessons, concerts, festivals?
What you can do to improve
Don’t hide behind the fact that the Swiss school system doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility. People manage to do school, apprenticeships, full time jobs or university without compromising their commitment to their team. It’s all about time management and priorities. Yes, sometimes appointments collide with practice times, but there’s always a way to make it work; plan an extra training session if you miss one, for example. If we’re honest though, when it’s not about mandatory work or school events, we always have a choice. Your success is in your own hands.
Taking it one step further
We can shape our communities when it comes to sport. We can build a more supportive atmosphere for kids and young adults who want sports to be a part of their lives. It’s not going to get done until someone does it. Why not you? If you want to do more, here’s some ideas:
- Organise events for your club to gain visibility in your city
- Do charity work as a team
- Get involved in coaching (it’s the best, believe me)
- Ask your coach if there’s anything you can do to support your team
- Come to the CCVS General Assembly and learn what’s going on in Switzerland
It’s all these small steps that can add value to what we do. This is a great time to get involved. Our sport is still so young, there’s a lot of work to be done. However big or small your contribution, you can have an impact on how cheerleading is done in Switzerland and how much support we will receive in the future. Dream big, and take small steps towards that dream!