There is a lot of pressure in competitive cheerleading, and through all of the work you put into it, you bond with your team like no other sport out there. You really have to trust each other! That’s why you address your teammates as family, and you wouldn’t trade competitive cheer for the world! However, there comes a point in your cheer career when you’ve outgrown the level you started at; you have to level up. After putting in so much time and energy assimilating to your first team, the last thing you want to do is change to a new one and start the bonding process all over again! But, it must be done in order to keep increasing your cheer knowledge. Or, perhaps you’re leveling up not because you’re switching teams, but because your coach is trying a new competition level out this season after realizing the team is fit for the challenge. Either way, welcome to the next level of cheerleading. Escalating to a new competition level can be scary, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. You might not be the star anymore.
Just like going from valedictorian at one school to being an average student at another with the same grades, your skill set is no longer at the top of the class due to others being just as good. Don’t worry–you’re still a very experienced cheerleader! You’re just having more asked of you, so instead of being among the best on your team, you may be now stationed at the bottom of the team totem pole. So, work your way up! Leveling up is supposed to be more challenging than your last team, so let your talents shine as you meet the new demands asked of you. Don’t shy away from difficult stunts either: the quicker you learn and master new skills, the faster you get that star spot back again.

2. Remember: no one expects the best right away.
If you keep #1 in mind, then it should come as no surprise that you won’t be rocking your new competition level immediately. And, no one expects you to! It takes months to be competition-ready for any team, let alone when you’re a cheerleader walking off an easier season the year before. Your coach and teammates already understand that this is your first time trying your hand at this level, so you will get a little slack at the beginning in order to learn and adjust. Just put in the effort, train your heart out, and keep up a positive attitude while you do, otherwise your team may get frustrated that you’re not pulling your own weight over time.

3. Believe in yourself.
This, above all else, is the most important! You may be used to star treatment by your coach and colleagues, but now you are working to prove yourself. Instead of getting down on yourself, get inspired! You can do this! Even when you’re still not hitting a tumble after the gajillionth time, believe that you can get it on the gajillionth and second time. Remember: the measure of a true athlete is falling seven times and getting up eight. Believe it or not, you can do this–and will. Just mentally break down what may be blocking you from nailing choreography, stunts, tucks, or tumbles and practice until you lock it down. You got this!

What other things are helpful to keep in mind when leveling up in competitive cheer? Did you level up recently? Share your story in the comments!