Even the most mentally tough cheerleader battles negative thinking sometimes. The athlete in you is prepared to meet any competitor, but when the competitor is coming from inside your own head, it gets tricky. But any cheerleader also knows that tricky doesn’t mean it can’t be done! You probably can’t get rid of negative thoughts all together, but you can fight them just like you do any other obstacle. Fight those negative thoughts with these five battle strategies: Overpower it. Want it more than you’re afraid of it. The fear or doubt will be there, but the passion, excitement, and desire to succeed can be the dominant emotion. Let the positive thoughts be stronger than the negative ones. Put it in perspective. Whatever negative things are on your mind, whether you’re battling body image issues or fear of failure or anything else, know that those aren’t the things that matter. The important things are that you have a healthy body that lets you do amazing things like cheer and that you overcome the fear of failure. It isn’t brave unless you’re scared. Change your perspective to acknowledge that even though the negative things are there, they are not what’s important. Accept it. This might sound strange, but what if you just heard the doubtful voice in your head and let it be? You think, “That looks hard. I don’t know if I can do that.” Then you just say, “OK. And…?” So what? You’re afraid. Of course you are. Any reasonable person would be afraid. Do it anyway. Maybe you can’t do it perfectly or even well at this point, but you might as well try. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get it the first time and need to keep working on it. Just because the negative thoughts are there doesn’t mean you have to stop. Get your priorities in line. If you see the obstacles, your eyes are off the goal. If what you want is to learn a certain tumbling pass, for example, there should be no room in your head for thoughts about how you aren’t good enough or what everyone watching you will think. Your top priority is mastering the skill. You don’t have time for the negative thoughts! Drown it out. You know what’s louder than one little voice? A cheer squad. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. From teammates and coaches to friends and family members, the positive voices of your own cheering section will drown out the sound of negativity. When you’re struggling, lean on the people who make up your support system.