You’ve been working hard in practice for weeks now. It’s competition season and everything is wearing you down. The basketball schedule is hectic and the team keeps losing. You are sore, tired and are having trouble keeping up with your class load. It’s starting to happen: you’re getting burned out.Cheerleading is a physically and mentally demanding sport. It is easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted at some point during the season. But, we have tips that will help you keep the fire and push through the hard times.
1. Don’t get frustrated
When you are on the brink of a burn out, the worst thing you can do is get frustrated. In cheerleading, frustration is like poison. It rubs off on your teammates, leads to unsafe skills and it drains you mentally. So right when you start feeling frustrated with cheer, take three deep breaths through your nose—really feel it deep in your tummy—then let it out of your mouth. Then choose a three-word mantra that reminds you why you tried out for the team. Your mantra can be simple like “I love cheer,” “my team’s great,” “have no fear,” “it’s my passion” or “it’s worth it.” After you have picked the mantra, close your eyes, take in some deep breaths in and out while you repeat your new mantra in your head. Once you feel less frustrated, open your eyes and attack your cheerleading challenge with your new, positive attitude.
Cheerleaders often hold in their pain, tiredness, soreness or stress. It is a quality we learn to help carry our teammates through the challenges we face. However, if you are feeling burned out, it is important that your coaches know. It is easy to get caught up in the season or practice, and many times your coaches don’t realize how heavy your load is. Talk to them. Tell him or her that you are feeling burned out and what is causing you to feel this way. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when you communicate. Plus, your coach is now in a position to work with you and hopefully help find a solution that will get you through your rough patch.
3. Get organized
We often get burned out not only because of our cheerleading schedules, but because of everything else going on as well. If you realize you are exhausted and starting to burn out, take 20 minutes and write out your schedule. Include practice times, school, workout times, work, social events and any other commitments you have. Once you write out everything, prioritize the things you need to get done, put off things that aren’t immediate needs and insert an hour or a half hour a day to regroup. If you are coming home from practice right after school and rushing to get your homework done, you burn out much faster. Take time to relax and switch gears. A good time to do this is during your meals. Eat a healthy meal at the table and chill out. You will feel much better.
4. Be in the moment
When you’re on burn out mode, it is easy to fall into a negative mode and dread heading to practice. But, instead of spending your time anticipating how tired you will be later today, tomorrow or next week, focus on your day-to-day commitments. You are capable of getting though anything you set your mind to and there is a reason you joined cheerleading. If you are at practice, don’t keep an eye on the clock waiting for it to be over. Concentrate on the stunt you have worked hard on, the smile on your teammates’ faces, your coaches’ encouraging words and constructive comments. If you can be in the moment at each practice, game or competition, you will be able to remember all of the little things you love about cheerleading. Enjoy them. You might be burned out, but those things are still there. You just have to notice them.
Burnouts are temporary. You will get through it! Remember why you decided to become a cheerleader. Below is a quote from Mia Hamm, a professional soccer player, who gives great advice for what to do when you are feeling defeated. The final tip: keep this quote in your cheer bag and take it out when you’re burned out. It is sure to light your fire and keep it burning throughout the season.
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.” – Mia Hamm