You did it! You and your cheerleaders finally qualified to level up on the mat. It’s an exhilarating feeling that you have the talent and drive to accomplish taking on more complicated stunts and routines the next time you head to a competition. However, after the initial victory dance wears off, you realize what exactly this transition entails–a lot more hard work! You’re hanging with the big dogs now, so you have to start being able to hold your own on the mat. Your cheerleaders are up for the challenge, so now it’s up to you to take your routines farther than you ever have before… without hurting anybody, of course! While your imagination is running wild with possibilities, here are a few things to keep in mind while you adjust.

1. You have some rules to learn. You know your last division’s rules like the back of your hand, but now, you have a different set of regulations to follow! Before you do any planning for next season, make sure the stunts you’ve always envisioned for your team are even allowed before you find out if they are doable. Obviously, most of the safety rules are going to stay the same no matter if you’re a Level 3, a Level 5, or your team falls somewhere in between; just make sure you don’t cost your team any extra points throughout the season by doing your due diligence ahead of time.

2. You just plummeted from the top of the ladder in one division, to the bottom rung of another. Even though you and your cheerleaders have earned your team’s new title, you earned it because you were just too dang good in your last division. That means, the competitions you had in the bag last year are now anyone’s game! If you’re accustomed to winning most of the time, it could be a harsh reality that you have to lose a few as you learn the ropes. Pertaining to other teams, you may have had a sneak peak watching some of them last year as you waited for your division to be called, but keep in mind that teams change season to season, and they too could have increased their skill set! Keep your eye on the prize, and remember it’s a learning process!

3. Don’t get too down on yourself. You’ve had ideas for routines for the longest time, but haven’t been able to put them in motion… until now! However, some things like base strength, flexibility, and just plain gravity get in the way of having your ideas spring to life. If what you thought was going to work didn’t, you have to remain positive and pull your team out of a funk by getting creative. You also may be discouraged about bouncing back after a losing streak, thinking that you should have just kept your team at the level they were at–why did you push for more?? At those times, a coach has to remember that without progress, there’s stagnancy, and the whole point your cheerleaders got into the sport is to push themselves to be the best they can be. It’s hard to shake off a loss, but doing so will only push you to be better prepared for next time!

4. Seek counsel from other coaches. The last thing to keep in mind is that every cheer coach started off lower on the proverbial totem pole than they are now – just like you! Make acquaintances with coaches in your new division, and ask for their advice on transitioning fluidly. Who knows? You may receive the advice you need!

How else can cheer coaches adjust to a new cheer competition level? What worked for you? Share your tips in the comments!