8 WAYS TO BUILD CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CHEER TEAM
by Melissa Hay
In judging competitions over the last 12 years and coaching for more than 20 years, I can always spot a confident team. It is up to you as the coach to build confidence in your team and here are 8 ways you can build confidence.
1. DON'T SKIP PROGRESSIONS
You may want your entire team to have libs, but if they do not have solid extensions first, you should not be attempting libs. You may want a full up to a lib, but if you don’t have a full up to prep and to extension or you don’t have a solid lib, you shouldn’t be trying a full up to lib. While you may want to showcase advanced skills, your team is going to build confidence performing at games and competitions when they hit every time. Clean is always better than shaky more advanced skills.
2. TEACH THEM CROWD PLEASING STUNTS
I always like to start with stunts I know they can hit, but I like to make them visually appealing. This way you are performing a crowd pleaser that the crowd will cheer for and it is something fun for them to perform. For instance, let’s say you have one solid extension and a few preps. Put up a pyramid, with two extensions on either side of the extension and two shoulder sits on either side of the preps. Face at a 90 degree angle when you load. Connect the stunts and turn the pyramid 90 degrees to face the fans. You may even have more advanced skills than that, but I promise you that the crowd a game will like it every time. When the crowd is cheering for your team, that will build confidence.
3. TEACH THEM CONFIDENCE
I have worked with teams and the coach of the team would be very scared to have her team try new skills. I knew the team was ready to move to something more advanced, but the team will sense any apprehension you may have. Think through if your team is ready. If they are then no matter how scared you may be for them to try something new, don’t let it show!
4. SHOWCASE NEW SKILLS
When a member of your team or a stunt group gets a new skill take a moment in practice to have them show it off to the rest of the team. Give them high praises.
5. SHOW THEM GRACE
Let your team know to be prepared for anything to happen. Sometimes a stunt that never falls, will fall. Sometimes they will forget a motion. Let them know that as a coach, you are not looking for perfection, but recovery. Mistakes may happen, but what you want to see is how they recover. They need to get right back into the routine. As a coach you want the routine to be flawless, but by letting them know it is okay to make a mistake and to just keep going, you will take pressure off the team to be flawless and guess what? They might end up being flawless.
6. WORK THROUGH THE MISTAKES
At practice when you are performing full out, don’t stop the music or cheer if they make a mistake. Let them practice responding to a mistake. When they learn how to respond to having a wrong grip or if they get off on their counts, they are going to build confidence in performing because they will have practiced recovering.
7. DON'T JUST HOPE IT WILL HIT
If certain skills have not hit repeatedly in practice, don’t keep them in the routine and just hope they hit. The team and you as the coach needs to KNOW it will hit. Make the change if you need to and stop hoping. You need to KNOW.
8. TEACH THEM TO OWN THE MAT/FLOOR
Tell them to own the mat. When they get ready to perform, they need to picture themselves at their best. A team that believes they are the best will perform with confidence. Let them know that confidence will score higher in a competition and gain more credibility from the fans over a team with more skills, but a lack of confidence.
Confidence is the key to coaching a successful team.. Let it start with you!
Melissa Hay has over 20 years cheer coaching and judging experience. You can learn more about her services through The Allstar Cheer Consultant