A couple of years ago we were introduced to a sport that was new to us. Cheerleading. My daughter and I fell in love with it right away and I feel like we might be ‘lifers’. Having been an avid fan for a bit I have learned a few tips and tricks to being a good Cheer parent. Here they are:
1. Learn how to count. Really well. Feel free to skip numbers and add random words in place of numbers. Words like sync, hitch, set and up can take the place of actual numbers. Who knew? It will help you get the most out of the Cheer season if you know how to do this.
2. Figure out how to hold your phone to videotape your child in the routine without actually looking at the camera. This will be invaluable if you ever actually want to see their routine. For some reason watching it through a camera lense is not actually like watching it at all. But at the same time you will still want your video replay. So best to practice this trick at home. A lot. I’d say get your kids to do random things in the living room. Pick one to follow with your phone and one to actually watch. It’s kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly. Or is it it patting your belly and rubbing your head. Hmmm i’ll have to ponder that.
3. Get used to hotel sheets. Not a bad proposition I’d say. No one wants to get up at the crack of stupid to be sure we don’t hit a traffic jam on the way to a competition so it’s best just to fork out the dough and stay nearby. To be honest, the extra sleep is worth it’s weight in gold.
4. Enjoy hearing their team song. On repeat. Every day for the duration of Cheer season. You may be hearing it in your sleep. You may catch yourself humming it at work. You may even find your self doing that counting business to the music, thinking how the heck did I even know that? Well you will. I promise.
5. Realize that sometimes your daughter will just “mark” her routine. Your daughter can learn how to do her entire routine with nothing but a bunch of little hand twirls above her head and moving her body into the right position on the floor. It’s actually quite fun to watch. Because getting the feel of the routine and the beats of the music is an important part of Cheer. As they do this they will also learn to count in unison. Loudly. (Of course using words like synch and hitch in place of actual numbers). You may want to review the counting of 1-10 with them every few months (where they don’t slip in random words for numbers) just to be sure they still have it. Their school teachers will thank you. Hmmm synch x 12 is…..
6. Learn how to stunt. If your daughter is anything like mine, then she’ll want to fly. All the time. And she will need a double base group. But thankfully in our family there is myself, her Dad and her sister. Unfortunately for her they are only good for about 1 stunt before they throw in the towel. So we do a lot of 2 mans. My advice to you is to get really good at two mans. Because you’ll be doing them. Every day.
7. Invest in a mat. Because there WILL be tumbling. At any moment. At any time of the day. It will be random. You will just be going about your day, minding your own business and all of a sudden there will be a tumbling line in the middle of your living room. So if there is a mat out at least you’ll be ready for it. This mat also helps your knees during your two mans. Believe me, I know.
8. Most importantly, be ready to love Cheer. I have never felt this way about a sport before. Not when I was involved with sports when I was young and not with any of my kid’s activities before this. My daughter has never once balked at coming to practice. She has loved all of her coaches and happily learns from any corrections they have for her. She has learned so much and grown as a person, as well as in her skills. She gained more tumbling skills in one month at Cheer than in 3 years at gymnastics. That’s how I know that it’s a good fit for my girl. She has gained resilience from hard practices, she has made friends for life and she has learned how to work well with a team. She has grown to realize how much her team depends on her and how much she depends on the others on the team. She has grown in her confidence a thousand fold and I have Cheer to thank for that. If anyone who is not involved yet has a child who loves to tumble, dance and jump, a child who wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves, who enjoys making new friends and having a ton of fun then guess what? This is your sport. Take a chance on it. It is worth every penny.
By Joanna Myers.