In almost every sport you can find elite athletes who can recount stories of being molded into a superior athlete by coaches and parents at a very young age. Basketball players who were made to shoot 100 free throws daily or eat with their left hand at the dinner table. Quarterbacks who learned to protect the football by carrying it everywhere they went throughout the day. Cheerleading is no different. There is a basic foundation that every successful cheerleader needs that can be instilled at a very young age.
To be successful in cheerleading or in any sport, a healthy love of competition, practice and preparation must live within the athlete. Teaching cheerleaders at a young age to appreciate practice time and not shy away from difficulties will undoubtedly help them in the future. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is not exactly a guarantee, but practice certainly does put you on the path to perfection. It is much easier to instruct and coach cheerleaders who are excited about practice and conditioning than to have to coax cheerleaders into practicing. This desire and attitude to want to strive for improvement can be taught at home before your cheerleader even laces up his or her first pair of cheer shoes.
Once the right attitude and outlook are solidified stretching and conditioning will be the next on the checklist. It is a fact that flexibility and strength are important components to cheerleading. If you evaluate the elite cheerleaders of today you will find that they boast both of these traits. Encourage your cheerleader to stretch daily. Stretching does not have to be a time consuming process, but consistency is key. Stretching twice a day for thirty minutes will yield incredible results over time. Additionally, being in good physical condition will not only make conquering new skills easier, but will also help in preventing injury. A great way to encourage and support your cheerleader when it comes to being in top physical condition is to work out with them. The intensity doesn’t have to be the same, but your effort and show of support will be a lasting memory and source of motivation for your cheerleader. There is nothing better in cheerleading than having someone cheering for you.
Similar to any other sport, it is also critical to know who your cheerleader is working with and learning from. Don’t be afraid to research the teams and coaches your athlete will be a member of… you are entrusting the coach to mold your child not only as a cheerleader, but as a person…So arm yourself with information. Also seek out an organization that will allow your child to grow as a cheerleader and as a person. A well rounded curriculum will have instruction on the fundamentals such as motions, jumps and dance, as well as advanced skills such as stunting and tumbling. If you are enrolling your child in a competitive cheer program check out their previous competition records, talk with other parents, and ask if you can view part of a practice to see how they operate. The most important aspect once a child is enrolled is to listen to their feedback.
The final tip in preparing your next generation cheerleader is to diversify their training. Today’s cheerleader excels in dance, stunting and tumbling. Trying classes in dance, gymnastics, trampoline and acrobatics can only enhance your cheerleader’s skill sets. And remember when a child is excited about something they will have their own internal motivation. It can be seriously detrimental to push a child past their limits. Be mindful of those boundaries to ensure continued emotional and physical health. And lastly, remember the roots of cheerleading are defined by spirit, sportsmanship and CHEER, so don’t forget these key components on your personal cheer journey.
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