Feel like there is not enough hours in the day? You have SO much to go over
with your team, and yet, the length of practice stays the same. With
competitions or big sideline performances looming, you need to maximize your
practice hours and really get down to the nitty-gritty… but how? Going into
practice with improvements in mind is a great start–versus just winging it–and
the more you have outlined in your mind, the better! However, being a master of
is more than just coming in prepared. Here are four expert practice
tips to up your coaching game this season.
1. Anticipate that your plans might not
Knowing that your practice can segue off course at any given
moment isn’t something to stress over–it’s something to embrace! This sounds
contradictory to keeping your team on track, but until you see your plans in
action, you never really know if what you had in mind will work. You probably
head into practice with adjustments to the routine that you mentally solved
since the last time your team got together, but will it actually work??
the real issue, and the number one thing that could derail progress–reality.
Maybe your cheerleaders need to work on a certain area to pull off a stunt or
tumble, or maybe your original idea for a dismount is more challenging than you
envisioned. No problem, just scale it down to your team’s ACTUAL skill level
for the first performances, and work on progressing toward that stunt by the
end of the season.
2. Expect parent interruption.
ideal world, parents wouldn’t have access to practice spaces. Unfortunately,
that’s not going to happen. Parents will always have something to say about the
team, so the trick is to not have those comments/concerns/questions/etc. eat up
practice time. When the season starts
–and throughout the season
–remind parents that they can always reach out to you via email to discuss any issues or ideas that they may have about their athlete. If necessary, you may want to set up a 15-20 minute session to further discuss anything, but avoid doing it around practice times, so that they receive your undivided attention.
In doing so, you not only strengthen your relationships with the
parents, but the lack of distraction might even lead to opening up your mind to
alternative things you might not have considered. The parents of your
cheerleaders have been there, overseeing their progress since they got into
cheerleading–and they also see them practicing at home! Whether you realize it
or not, they can provide valuable insight
on the exact skill level of each
individual team member.
3. Ease off the drill sergeant
You have a lot to accomplish in a small amount of time. Noted.
But, holding practice just for the sake of improvement can lead to you
overworking your cheerleaders. This can be problematic in two ways. One, your
cheerleaders can become overly fatigued in practice, causing their actual
performance to suffer; and two, the morale of the team can plummet from the ‘all work
and no play’ feeling.
Either way, stressing perfection over progress will
backfire. You’re right: you can only do so much in one day, so acknowledge and
appreciate the minor victories as you baby step toward the finish line. Just
take a deep yoga breath, ease that anxiety level a tiny bit, and tell yourself
that your team will get there! Your cheerleaders will perform better next time
walking out of practice after having a few minutes of fun, too.
How else can cheer coaches improve cheer
practices? Share your coaching tips in the comments!