You’ve survived all of the practices, and now you’re on the road–it’s
competition time. While you’re en route, you might be wondering what to expect,
especially if this is your first time around. One thing to remember is that
even professional cheerleaders get nervous under pressure! So, whether you’re
about to arrive at your first competition or your fortieth, it’s helpful to
know what NOT to do when you get there! Make sure you don’t sabotage your
competition score by avoiding these four things:
1. Having your nerves get the best of you.
What most cheerleaders do not realize is that everyone at a competition has
anxiety to deal with–all the coaches, parents, and (yes) even the judges are
nervous too! You’re definitely not all alone in how you feel, but the worst
possible thing you can do is freak out. By keeping your cool, you’ll not only
feel better when you take the mat, but also not set off a chain reaction with
your teammates (who are equally on edge)! You might spot other teams who let
their emotions take over, but you better believe that that kind of behavior
does not sit well with spectators. Or judges.
2. Skipping stretching. There may be a
lot to see and take in when you arrive, but the last thing you want to do is
forget to stretch before the high-impact, cardio-intensive outburst you call
your ‘routine’. Your body needs to be just as prepared to perform as your mind
does. And you can kill two birds with one stone by calming your pre-routine
jitters through therapeutic stretching. Take long, deep breaths as you wake up
your muscles from the long car-ride through stretching, and make sure you use
this time to meditate on your motions while you’re at it. Now, doesn't that
3. Forgetting to eat. As stated above,
you are about to do a very demanding routine that requires a lot of energy. Of
course eating right before your slot is a bad idea, but not eating at all is
even worse. That means the best time to eat on competition day is at least a
couple hours before, probably while you’re still traveling. Light snacks are
great closer to when you perform if you didn’t have time for a full meal, but
make sure they are easily digestible choices, like fruit or nuts. Once you’re
full of necessary calories, your body won’t shut down unexpectedly when you push it to the
maximum for the two minutes and thirty seconds that make up your routine.
4. Not engaging the judges. Yes, they
are judging you and your team on every move made on the mat. But, that doesn’t
mean they must be avoided–in fact, that should make you pay more attention to
them! By maintaining eye contact, smiling, and waving at the judges, your team
has a much better chance of getting higher marks; this is because the judges
are supposed to be your only audience
and not merely part of the audience.
Most cheerleaders forget to direct their motions to the judges due to having a
larger audience there, filling the entire auditorium. Keep your eyes on the
prize, and realize who really holds the fate of your team.
What else is detrimental for a
cheerleader at a competition? Tell other cheerleaders what hasn’t worked for
your team in the comments below.