Cheerleading has one of the most unique schedules of any activity because the points at which a season begins and ends are so vague. During the course of a single season, you can go from tryouts to practices to camp to football games to competitions to basketball games to championships. Then, all of a sudden, you’re back at tryouts again! When fully committed, cheerleading really is a year-round activity. And while the time between seasons may not be spent with an organized squad, you should use this time to better yourself, strengthen your skills and increase your value for the season ahead.
Health is wealth.
Taking care of your physical and mental health is not only a duty to yourself, but a duty to your teammates. When you reach that point between one season and the next, it’s easy to stray from your routine and find yourself in a place that your body isn’t used to. But your body thrives on consistency, especially when it comes to maintaining your optimal shape, so here are some ways to keep your mind and body right during the off season:
Eat Right: Fuel your body with nourishing foods and well-balanced meals. This way, you’ll avoid that feeling of “starting over” or “getting back on track,” and you’ll learn to live and appreciate a continuously healthy lifestyle.
Exercise: You know it’s not good to push your body from zero to 100, but it’s just as bad to let yourself go from 100 to zero. Rest days are a must; just make sure that rest day doesn’t turn into a rest week, and then a rest month, and so on. Whether it’s long walks around the neighborhood or a couple gym sessions per week, keeping to a routine will have you thanking your muscles come tryout time.
Mental Health Check: Your mind is your body’s strongest muscle, and it needs rest days too! Make the most of your time off. Make a new meaning of Friday night lights by staying in with a good book or getting the family together for game night. Fill your free time with hobbies you may not have had time for during the hustle and bustle of games and competitions.
Discover new ways to train.
In cheerleading, the major training components are endurance, strength and flexibility. But that doesn’t mean your workouts should be limited to running for endurance and lifting weights for strength. Think outside of the box, and enjoy it! Sign up for that yoga class you’ve been eyeing. Not into running? Try high intensity interval training (HIIT) instead. HIIT workouts closely mimic cheer routines, as they take you to your full potential in under two minutes and 30 seconds! Challenge your body in ways that are fun and different, and encourage your teammates to join.
Open practice? Yes please!
If your school or gym hosts open practices, take advantage. This is valuable time to stunt with potential teammates, try new positions and maintain tumbling skills. The low pressure environment with no set agenda makes open practice a great opportunity to revisit technique and solidify skills before tryouts. Best of all, it’s filled with cheerleaders who want to be there. If you want to be better, you will be better! (Remember, a coach must be present.)
Follow this advice in your “off time,” and you will already be a step ahead for next season. Of course, you already know that for cheerleaders, there is no off season because when you love what you do, it’s all year-round!