I have been an all star cheerleader for about 6 years now. I compete in
individuals on and off. I am now in a large junior team where competing
in individuals is a big thing. My coach has asked me to compete as an
individual for every competition where it is possibly told her I would.
Not to come to think that I am scared of tumbling in front of a large
crowd. My routine for it is awesome. I am a great tumbler but I get scared
when in front of 1,000's of people. My tumbling skills are as follows:
back handsprings, standing tucks,tucks, half twists, layouts, and side
sommies. As you can tell I have had a lot of practice over the years.
I can just about place those skills in any combination I want too. I know
competing by myself would be great and I have an excellent chance to do
good. If you have any tips on how to keep my focused when tumbling in
front of a large crowd please let me know. Thank you for your time on
my problems. I hope to hear from you soon.
no doubt about it... larger audiences will affect how you perform your
routines... but the trick is to MINIMIZE that effect as much as possible.
You'll do that during your practices.
My coach always emphasized an important lesson about "events"
and "competitions"... He said that if you trained properly leading
up to competitions... the actual DAY of the event ought to be the 'easiest'
day you've had in a month. What he was implying is... that a great gymnast
will put all the hard work in WELL in advance of any day when there's
a significant audience viewing it.
The idea is to 'perfect' the skills during practice (and skill combinations)
to SUCH a high level of accuracy that they are 'routine'. Your 'routine'
must be rehearsed with enough frequency that they are almost 'mundane.'
Then during a 'show' or competition... it's no-big-deal... just do your
For example... if you were asked to demonstrate a cartwheel in front of
any sized crowd, I suspect you'd not feel the same level of stress as
you are feeling over the advanced skills... If that's true, it's because
you have greater confidence in the reliability of the cartwheel than the
advanced skills. The solution, then, is to actually practice the advanced
routine VERY VERY frequently...before the actual day of the competition.
(think of doing the ENTIRE routine 6 times EACH day... six days of the
week... every week.. until the day of the competition. Make the ENTIRE
routine EXTREMELY reliable.
Now, to take it ONE step further...
WHEN you are practicing at home in your gym... you must practice "as
if" a thousand people are watching you.
as VIVIDLY as possible, pretend that you are Actually at the competition...and
a thousand people are watching you... from beginning to end... during
EVERY single practice. Do that IN your gym EVERY day. EVERY attempt at
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Print up this E-mail
Carry it with you to practice
JUST before you walk ONTO the floor to STRETCH OUT.. Glance at the subject
of this E-mail & let it REMIND you to practice EVERY routine AS IF
a thousand people are watching you RIGHT NOW.
Now, "pretend" that you are 'on-camera... on stage... and in
competition" look around the gym... and imagine seeing rows upon
rows of people watching you... waiting on you. See them eating hot-dogs
and talking to each other... and doing what crowds of people normally
& then go about your warm-up... practice... and take your turn in
the competition with the cameras flashing and the crowds viewing you.
IMAGINE it as VIVIDLY as possible.
And play games with yourself... to help yourself make the 'pretended competition'
more realistic. Hear them call your name, or number. Hear your friends
cheer you on... and see the judges... listen to the music...
even pretend that there are mistakes in the music... and how you'd start
over... calm and cool and polished.& that you'd actually do BETTER
the next time... relaxed... and you'd win!
or imagine the lights unexpectedly going out on the stage & how you'd
recover... & start over ... & how everyone would be SO AMAZED
at your recovery... and see the judges giving you the winning score after
WHEN you begin your routine... SEE all the THOUSANDS of people in the
audience... and then ignore them... and turn your concentration to the
specific skills, passes, moves and combinations ahead of you. Do what
you are THERE to do... nothing else matters, does it.
And even in the middle of routines... pretend that balloons pop... and
kids scream... and other music starts...and no-matter WHAT happens around
you... YOU just keep your cool... keep your focus... and do what you are
there to do... perform a magnificent routine that results in your being
able to WIN THAT COMPETITION.
From the moment you walk into the floor... you ought to KNOW that YOU
are going to take first prize.. and ALL those people are going to get
to WITNESS you performing an amazingly well rehearsed... winning routine.
(the judges will really be there to decide who gets second and third place
trophies... because you already know who'll get first place.. YOU)
demonstrate such excellence EVERY SINGLE time.. that YOU ALWAYS feel confident
that you are scoring the highest scores possible.
HOWEVER... most people don't practice that way... they practice casually...
sloppily... as if no-one is watching... not even themselves... they perform
without careful concern for EACH and EVERY part of EACH element...
and then they practice so infrequently, (especially the big stuff) that
they can't HELP but feel stressed out when they are actually REQUIRED
to completely perform in competition.
Think about it.. They PRACTICE being BAD... :-(
Doesn't it make sense to use your PRACTICE time to REHEARSE winning elements?
So DO IT!
A wise performer will practice EVERY stretch... EVERY handstand... EVERY
handspring... as if s/he is being judged forever on that ONE... and she'll
do EVERYTHING in her power to make it the BEST POSSIBLE... worthy of being
praised by a thousand people.. (cheering in the stands).
That wise performer will not feel intimidated when she is actually FACE
to FACE with those crowds... because she is MOST comfortable there...
THAT environment is COMPLETELY normal, and natural... BECAUSE she's ALWAYS
practicing in front of them... (albeit in her imagination)
The only difference is... the imagined audience is not usually as fun
as the real audience.
Try this for a few weeks.. it's tough (mental discipline) the first 10
times or so, but after a while you'll get the hang of it.
Stay in touch, please.
PS: Always IMAGINE winning!
& practice EACH element/move/skill with such precision, beauty and
accuracy that it's EASY for you to imagine BEING worthy of winning.
... during EACH routine...
receiving the top award for your competition...
what does it feel like?
what does it sound like?
how do they call your name?
what's it like when all the eyes are upon you...
receiving the top award...
feel it in your hand...
feel the heat of the lights...
the roar of the crowd...
and the JOY of celebrating your success
(and make sure you give thanks to God.)
Coach Wayne is the Head Coach for the
Savannah College of Art and Design Cheerleading team and Executive Coach of
Olympic Gymnast Zuzana Sekerova. His articles, videos and books have been
used by students and instructors world wide since 1991. Coach Wayne is available
for in-gym instructor training and performance tumbling clinics throughout
the year. For booking information, coaches/owners should call 912.398.8082.
Students and parents should request coaches/owners to contact Coach Wayne.