As nationals season approaches, pressure and stress become increasingly familiar. Coaches do a great job of conditioning your body in order to execute jam-packed routines, but you can’t forget to condition your mind too. AC suggests the following tips to sharpen your mental focus in preparation for a winning routine.

With so many practices crowding your schedule, it’s easy to pick apart every section of your routine. But keep in mind that a positive mental outlook will encourage positive results. Always include positive feedback along with your constructive critiques so that your team knows what they are doing right, as well as what needs to be fixed. Coaches do a great job of letting the team know what needs to be changed, so be an encouraging voice that keeps the team morale UP!

Maintaining a strong mental focus during practice is crucial to being a sharp-minded athlete. Leave whatever issues you have going on in your personal life off of the mat. Use your practice time as an opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of life’s dilemmas. Whatever is going on will still be waiting for you after practice, so consider practice your personal therapeutic escape! Remember, what happens on the blue mat stays on the blue mat; what happens off, stays off.

During practice, there are typically a lot of things happening around you in the gym. Practice zoning out those distractions so that you can totally focus on your two and a half minute routine. There is so much going on backstage and around the competition floor at nationals, so you’ll be glad you’ve practiced this technique when your big moment arrives. The mind is a cheerleader’s strongest muscle, and like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised and strengthened as well as rested and recuperated. Take the time to clear your mind of all distractions and problems so that you can re-approach your routine with a fresh perspective.

Your team is comprised of several individuals and everyone has a different approach to practices and competitions. Some rely on maintaining a calm exterior, while others prefer to bounce around the floor. Regardless of what your teammates do to prepare themselves, it is important to support them. As an athlete you want every member of your team to be in the right mental state to execute a winning routine, and letting your teammates approach competitions in their own unique way gives them the confidence they need to excel. Everyone operates differently, and allowing some to quietly meditate while others joke around will strike a good balance for your team. You should respect the process even though you may not understand or agree with it.