In cheerleading, coaches hear the same refrain over and over again after offering corrections: “But coach, I’m not the one who messed up!” Athletes are anxious to show that they were not the ones who made a mistake — it was their teammates who fell short of the mark. Of course, this is an upsetting mindset that can lead to the failure of a team that is actually comprised of many talented kids. After all, there is no victory without teammates to push you there. You rise as a team and you fall as a team.
Understanding a Team
If someone wants to be held accountable for only their actions and no one else’s, then cheerleading is not the sport for them! Any athlete on a closely-knit team can tell you that one person’s slip up can cause issues for the team, but it’s up to the team to build that person back up and restore their confidence in themselves. For example, you can’t control whether or not your teammate lands their tumbling pass — but you can control how you react to it. Encourage them. Tell them you know they can do it. Instead of tearing down their confidence, build them up. The greater the confidence level on your team, the better you will perform.
The Group Determines Success
What about skills that involve more than one athlete? A stunt (usually) requires three bases and a flyer. If the stunt falls, whose fault is it? Any cheerleader can tell you that it depends. Maybe the main base lost her grip. It could be that the flyer forgot to lock out her legs. Perhaps the back spot didn’t release at the right time. No matter what the reason may be, there are a hundred tiny factors that could go wrong in a stunt that could cause it to come down. It’s up to your group to work together toward a common goal — hitting the stunt — without hesitation and without blame.
Instead of saying, “Why didn’t you grab the foot?” try something like, “I think we missed the foot that time. Let’s really concentrate so we can hit it now.” The good news is, especially when it comes to stunting, you can typically fix whatever is going wrong with a little communication.
Your All-Star Cheer Family
We like to think of all-star cheerleading teams as families. While you may get into small arguments here and there, at the end of the day, you love each other. You want the team to succeed, which means you want your teammates to perform at their absolute best. Start treating each other like the family you are. You won’t be able to win competitions and show the judges what you can do unless you reach that point. Give your quieter teammates a compliment when they do something well. Give hugs when anyone lands a new skill. Most importantly, tell them you believe in them after they fall or make a mistake. This is your family, and you can all come together to take home a win.