By Jennifer Spear

For some, like myself, Winter is the second season in a row for us cheerleaders … this can lead to some major burnout! The majority of my team goes right from the Fall team to the Winter team and so does our competition choreography.

With the exception of a few additions and subtractions, our focus is on perfecting the competition routine and maybe adding in some difficulty. This means Winter can take on a whole new life … and I’ve found some ways to keep it streamlined and less overwhelming for my team.

Selecting the right team

First, I choose my Winter team with the idea in mind that not everyone will compete. Some kids want to cheer for their school but aren’t super competitive. Some kids, have other obligations in Winter,.and some are just burned out from working so hard for Fall.

So I choose my team for games then hold a separate tryout day for those kids who want to be on the competition squad. Make it known what days and times practices are and what competitions you plan to attend.

Practicing without overwhelm

Once the team is selected, I’ve started with a new practice regimen that has kept things easy by practicing 3 days a week so you and your team can be refreshed. I do this by creating focuses for each practice. Here’s an example of our schedule.

Practice Day 1 is for tumbling: if you aren’t a tumbling coach or don’t have one try reaching out to your local cheer or gymnastics gym. Usually you can find one who will come to your school to work on your team! This practice should include everyone.

Practice Day 2 is for game skills and new skills: use this day to work on sidelines, jumps, halftime, etc. This practice should be for your entire team as well.

Day 3 is for competition prep: use this day to work strictly on the competition routine. This practice is only for the competition squad. Hopefully, this will be a day of teaching parts to anyone who is just joining and beefing up the rest of the team. Since they’ve already competed this routine in Fall, this once a week approach helps us avoid burnout.

I also add a special practice the day before a competition and that’s been a great supplement to the outline above.

Using this sequence of practices for Winter — or any season if you choose to — can help so much with burnout and it gives you the opportunity to help build your program without making such fierce demands on your candidates (and you!).

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