Are you ready for the competition floor? For some athletes, the smell of hairspray and the rhinestoned uniforms make them feel more energized than they have ever felt. These kids feel focused, prepared, and ready to handle anything that comes their way. However, not all athletes feel this way. Some feel extreme anxiousness, completely forget their routine, and don’t know how to handle the pressures of being onstage. If you suffer from this anxiety, or some of your athletes do, read the following tips to help them feel more confident throwing their skills on the floor and less worried.
What causes nervousness?
The anxiety we feel when we perform is caused by our body’s fight-or-flight response. This means that we feel as though we are being attacked physically, even if we aren’t. It accounts for why we feel we are in real danger, even though we aren’t. Symptoms of performance anxiety can include a racing pulse and fast breathing, a dry mouth, shaking hands and knees, sweaty and cold hands, nausea, and even vision changes. None of these sound like anything you want to experience before performing at a national cheerleading competition!
To put it simply, stress about performing is what causes performance anxiety. In order to overcome these feelings, athletes need to understand that they are not perfect, they can make mistakes, and that’s okay! Confronting any fears can help put them in the back of the mind during those two and half minutes on the mat.
Overcoming the nerves
Here are some of the top ways to overcome this anxiety:
- Practice! The more prepared your athletes feel, the less they will need to stress over.
- Limit caffeine and sugar. Stress the importance of a healthy breakfast before the competition and make sure there is no excess of sugar and caffeine. A low-fat meal with complex carbs included is usually perfect to settle the anxiety.
- Focus on the fun. Your athletes are here to put on a show and have fun! Don’t let them stress too much about their fears. Tell them to think about how impressed and proud their parents are going to be when they smile the whole way through.
- Bring on the positive. Don’t focus on what could go wrong; instead, focus on everything that can go right. Visualizing a successful routine will make them feel more confident when they actually go out on the floor.
- Control your breathing. Steady breathing and other relaxation techniques have been shown to calm the nervous system. Practicing these techniques daily, even when you’re not performing, can be helpful when it’s time to really use them under pressure.
- Move around. Sometimes shaking out our arms or jumping around can help shake out any leftover nerves. Feel free to move however your body demands in order to get the stress out.
- Put on facials. The sillier the facials, the better! If the focus is on performing, entertaining, and connecting with the audience, there’s no way to be too nervous.
Keep in mind that stage fright is usually at its worst before the performance. Once your athletes hear that “5-6-7-8,” they’ll know exactly what to do—and they will do it confidently.
WSA National Cheerleading Competition
If you are looking for the best way to show off your team’s skills, bring them to us! We proudly host some of the best cheerleading competitions to let your athletes showcase their abilities and hard work during the season. Take a look at our competition schedule and see when we will be in your city! We look forward to seeing you and your athletes compete on our stage.