HOW TO MAKE CHEER PRACTICE MORE EFFICIENT
WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN?
“Session planning” is one of those things that gets all sorts of eye-rolling amongst cheer coaching as it can sound like a tedious and pointless task. Yet so many coaches feel frustrated by the fact that they do not achieve what they would like during their cheer sessions leaving them frantic closer to crunch time.
Yet time and time again, we expect our seasons to go smoothly, and they don’t. We expect our athletes to execute what we have in our heads, and they don’t. We have the best of intentions, yet the outcome sometimes leaves us wanting to bang our heads against the wall. Worse yet, the athletes feel like they did a lot of running around like headless chickens and then don’t have the outcome they had hoped.
And still we roll our eyes at “session planning”.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Let’s just think of other jobs in different industries, and how they operate:
Would a cab driver complete a route without a map?
Would a chef prepare a dish without a recipe?
Would an architect plan a building without designs?
Would an artist start a painting without a sketch?
Planning is an essential part of a successful delivery, yet in cheer, we often come across the notion that we are just “too good to need a plan”. Would a Michelin star chef think the same? No, because being a professional chef is part artistry and part professional planner. In the food industry, they even have a name for it: “Mise En Place” (ie everything in its place). The art of "Mise En Place" is taught as a subject and in apprenticeships just like you would expect to learn how to sauté or make sauce reductions.
The truth is that the best professionals, in every field, are excellent planners. Yet in most jobs, and especially in cheer, we mostly run blind when it comes to organising the activities that REQUIRE the organisation of multiple people. Coaching a session without a set plan and goals is as useful as sending a group of deaf persons to the movies without subtitles.
THE DIFFERENCE LIES IN THE RESULTS
5 minutes spent planning your goals, your space, equipment and how you are going to use your time will save you 50 minutes of running around like a headless chicken and even more time throughout an entire season, wondering “where it all went wrong” and if you athletes or colleagues are to blame.
Planning a session will help you set your intentions in writing, because statistically, writing things down make you much more likely to stick to a plan rather than thinking it or even leaving a voice note. There is a strong sense of commitment that comes from writing things down that make it more difficult for you to brush aside: you are making a written contract with yourself.
A good cheer session plan should:
Concisely list any preparation required for your session
Set the goals you plan to achieve during the session
Identify the drills or activities you will use to achieve these goals
Set realistic timings for your session, including a proper warm-up, cool down and breaks
Identify what will be your focus points for each of the activities
Leave space for you to write down thoughts, learning points, focus points and feedback for your next session
WHEN THEY SEE YOU CARE, THEY CARE
Think how effective and focused you can be as a coach if you had all of your thoughts and ideas written on one single letter sheet of paper, handy for your session. Think how much more effective you next session will be when you have your thoughts and feedback already handy from your previous session.
Imagine how empowered your team will feel knowing that there are set goals for their time with you, and how much easier it will be for your team to help you meet your coaching goals if you make them feel a part of your planning sessions.
Just try this for 1 month to see if it makes a difference, before and after every session by keeping a diary or bullet journal. For CheerConditioning.Academy members - we have created a cheer session planning guide, as well as some season and cheer session conditioning planners to print and fill out!