by Andrea McBride
All Star Cheer is a 12 month sport. There is very little downtime. Other sports have an ‘off season’ but all-star cheerleading can seem like 24/7 -365. It’s 12 months of hardcore practicing and training with four to five months of that being actual competing.
So if you start competitive cheer at a young age, burnout can happen early. Most sports get four to five years of all-in, early days and late nights, two a days, full out, hardcore athletes. But all-star cheerleading needs its athletes to do that for 10 or more years. In order to sustain that kind of commitment, there needs to be checks and balances.
✅ One way to keep things in check is to manage your time. Put a cap on how often you’re in the gym each week. If this means cutting out being a crossover then do that. One team IS enough. And if you’re placed on two teams and the coach says you can only do the younger or lower level team then be ok with that. You’ll get to the older or higher level teams eventually. This is a long-term sport. You WILL get there. Be patient.
✅ Balance your gym life with your social life. We have all heard the joke “I Can’t, I Have Cheer” but it’s not funny when you really do have to stop hanging out with your other friends. When they stop inviting you to parties or you miss every single family holiday function because of extra practices… then the joke is on you. Those are some great memories that you’re missing out on. And when your cheer life is over, you’re going to wish you had spent some time getting to know your family members at those family get-togethers.
You won’t be able to go to everything outside of cheer because you made a commitment but make a commitment to spend time with friends and family. Don’t wait for them to invite you, make plans with them when you know you have time off and attend a movie or have a big family dinner.
✅ When you start to feel like practice is just another daily grind and you’re over it, ask your coach to incorporate some fun games or challenges into your workouts. Breaking up the monotony of the same old same old at practice is crucial. Coaches should recognize that it’s not just about doing new skills but also about adding variety and making practice a can’t miss event. Hitting zero is always fun but just having some change is also fun!
✅ If you’re halfway through the season and even the excitement of competition day seems like a chore, change up how you compete or what you do on competition days. Sit down and watch other teams instead of standing in line for Dippin’ Dots. Help your coaches out and be their assistant for an hour (go fetch them some food or carry a backpack). Volunteer to help with your gym’s tiny team or special abilities team and participate in their competition day activities. Whatever it is, mix it up and make it new so it’s interesting again. Do something that you’ve never done before.
✅ Maybe everything and everyone is annoying you. You’re upset about one thing so now you hate all the things. If you find yourself rolling your eyes and sighing at the littlest things then it’s time for an attitude check. Identify what is really bothering you and deal with that thing. Whether it’s talking to a teammate or a coach about certain behaviors or just venting to a friend about something you’re struggling with, you need to blow off steam and get that weight off your shoulders.
If there’s no specific thing bothering you and making everything else seem worse, then write down ALL the things that bother you and find something positive about each instead. It’s all about your mindset and how you perceive things. Look at things in a new way and everyone will also notice the change in you!
✅ There are many reasons burnout can set in. It’s up to you to find a way to fight it. Put that elusive skill on the back burner and start working on a different one. Sometimes working on that front punch can make that back tuck even better when you come back to it.
Find a new friend on your team. Maybe you only hang out with a certain girl or group of girls. Seek out a new stretch partner and warm up a new friendship!
Stepping outside of our circle and our comfort zone makes us better, more well-rounded people in all aspects of life. Cheer is no different. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it so put in your best effort and try something new. It will breathe new life into you and your sport!