Cheerleading competitions are awesome and really stressful on everyone involved. Here are some ideas about how to keep your stress level down whether you are a competitor, coach, or parent.
First, be prepared. The best way to combat the stress of competition is to have a routine that everyone on the floor has mastered and feels confident completing. From stunts to tumbling passes, make sure that everyone’s timing is dead on perfect several run-throughs before you load the vans to head out to the competition. This means making sure that practices count, and everyone is present for every practice. No excuses. Even participants who might not feel the greatest can come in and watch and spot so that they are aware of any last minute changes.
Second, make sure your squad is prepared with what they need. Does the routine require props (signs, megaphones, poms, flags, etc.)? Make sure they are loaded in the transport the night before you have to leave.
Triple check everything!
Third, make sure competitors have everything they need for the uniforms they are wearing. Buy the jumbo-size slider bags (2.5 gallons). Have participants bring in what they need (Shoes, midriff, shells, skirts, socks, hairbows, spankies). Neatly pack each complete uniform in a slider bag. Label the bags with each participants name with a permanent marker. If available, pack extra uniform pieces in different sizes as well. Keep all of the uniforms together! Don’t give them to the participants until it is time to get ready!
Fourth, pack the make-up kits. Make sure that you have decided on a make-up color scheme and eye pattern before you get to the competition. Don’t experiment when you are at the venue! Have a dress rehearsal one night the week before competition. If your squad uses hair pieces, include them in the rehearsal and pack them up with the make-up kits. If not, make sure you plan accordingly for hair rollers or curling irons for the style that your squad is using and pack plenty of hairspray. Go full out with uniforms and make-up. Run the routine a few times through for parents and students. Some squads charge admittance as a fundraiser and invite the school and community. They may offer a spaghetti dinner or hot dog supper along with the entertainment. After the run-through, it’s the perfect time to pack the uniforms. Everyone is together, and it makes it so much easier.
Keep two accordion folders with copies of the registration information. Give one to an assistant coach or trustworthy parent. Make sure that schedules, payment confirmation, and any other pertinent information to the competition are kept in the accordion folder.
It is important to keep the parents feeling as little stress as possible as well. Their kids are performing in front of a lot of people. They have probably put a lot of time and money into cheerleading at this point. They want a good return and a happy kid when it’s all said and done. Make sure they have directions to the venue, a schedule for the events with their squad(s) times and stages highlighted if possible, a set meeting place for before the competition and after the competition, a schedule of the awards ceremony, and a list of possible places to stay and eat if it is an overnight competition. Many parents like to “book” together when it comes to travel arrangements. Make sure they know where the squad will be staying well in advance so that this is an option for them. Make sure that you keep the parents in the loop at all times about possible changes to schedules or venues. You can set up a phone tree, but don’t count on that always working. Use email, text alerts, and Facebook notifications to alert parents to what is going on with the event.
1. Routine has been successful at practice several times with no errors.
2. Each coach has a least two copies of the competition music.
3. All props are accounted for and packed.
4. There are two folders with all registration information.
5. All uniforms are packed and labeled and transferred together.
6. All make-up kits are packed.
7. All parents have several ways to contact them to keep them up to date with the schedules.
8. Room reservations (if necessary) are paid in advance and confirmation is in hand.
9. Departure time allows for delays, hair and make-up issues, and possibly a few run-throughs before the competition.
10. Participant waiver forms are in hand with insurance information. Many times these are sent in earlier with the registration. Keep a copy with you!
Some helpful hints for the multi-tasking coach:
1. Use Vaseline on teeth to keep lips from curling up and sticking. Funny, but it works!
2. Use hairspray sprayed on the upper thigh and buttocks to keep spankies from riding up during the routine.
3. Artist brushes work really well when applying eye make-up. The longer handles allow you to work without being right in the girl’s face.
4. Use hairpieces if the squad can afford it. They are so much easier than trying to do hair for every competition.
5. Make-up is always the same for the girls. Same colors and “designs” on the eyes or face.
6. Bring extra hair pins, extra hair ties, and extra safety pins!
7. Don’t get emotional in front of the squad before the competition. Don’t freak out when someone drops a stunt in the practice time. Don’t start crying or laughing hysterically (whichever may be your coping). Wait until they are off the competition floor. If someone makes a mistake, try not to dwell on it. They will fell bad enough when it happens.
8. If you can afford it or the parents would like to help, have a small gift for the kids when they are done. Even if it’s just a keychain or a stuffed animal to help them commemorate their achievement of competing, it will mean a lot to them.
The more you are prepared, the stress you are going to feel. The less stress you feel, the less stress the participants will feel!