Each year, just about every cheerleader enters the new season with one ultimate goal in mind: to win. This comes as no surprise; we spend countless tiresome hours in the gym working our bodies to exhaustion. We spend thousands and thousands of dollars on uniforms, choreography, music, competition fees, traveling, and more. We devote 52 weeks worth of blood, sweat, and tears to the 2 minutes and 30 seconds we have to prove ourselves. Naturally, we want to reap the rewards of this hard work!
However, if there is one thing guaranteed in cheerleading, it is that not everyone can reach that elusive goal of winning all the time. There may be times that you’ll face defeat after defeat, despite giving it your all. Don’t let this get you down, though. I’m here today to tell you why losing, rather than winning, may have been the most valuable part of my cheerleading career.
- It teaches you about real life.
Cheerleading teaches many life lessons, and one of the most important lessons comes from losing. Life isn’t always fair. There will be times that you give something your all, and it still doesn’t work out as planned. There always may be someone better, more prepared, or simply luckier. Realizing and accepting this reality lessens the sting of losing, and makes you consider what truly matters. As long as you can say you put your whole heart into something, you’ll never lose a day in your life despite the outcome!
- It inspires and motivates you to work harder.
I’m sure most cheerleaders can agree that nothing lights a fire under you more than losing. Instead of feeling discouraged when things don’t work out, channel your emotions to motivation! Losing is the perfect reason to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan for success. Ask yourself: did I give it my all at every single practice? Did I put in enough work on my own time? Did I treat my body well so I could perform at my highest level? By reflecting on how you can improve and taking corrective action, you will make yourself a stronger athlete both physically and mentally. And, as a result, you’ll be more likely to succeed in the future!
- Losing keeps you humble and makes you a better winner.
The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner. Although a winning streak is definitely fun, it is also an easy way to develop an ego. Losing every now and then reminds you to stay humble. It teaches you that no matter how successful you may be, there is always a way to keep improving, and to never settle. Losing also serves as a reminder that despite a team’s track record, in cheerleading, anything can happen on any given day. This teaches you to appreciate and accept wins more graciously, while also developing more respect for those who prevail when you lose.
- Defeats make the victories that much sweeter.
If you get used to winning all the time, it’s likely that you could become complacent or even bored. Winning would become more of an expectation than a reward, which makes it less special! By experiencing the sting of losing, you learn to value and appreciate the triumphs of winning that much more. Without knowing what it feels like to fall short, it’s hard to fully appreciate your successes! After a loss, winning not only represents reaching your goal, but also overcoming and exceeding a past obstacle or challenge, which makes it all the more worthwhile.
- It reminds you of what truly matters.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that cheerleading is about the journey– not the destination. Losing serves as the perfect reminder that it’s not always about winning. If you hit your routine to the best of your ability, if you nailed a skill that you struggled with in the past, if you made your coaches proud, if you embraced and savored every moment on that mat with your teammates… You already won. The title, trophies, jackets and rings are simply a bonus! Losing allows you to reflect on what made you fall in love with this sport in the first place. Before before winning or losing, we all fell in love with the feeling of joy this sport brings us. The feeling of community and family within our gym or team. The feeling of pride and accomplishment when you first hit a new skill. The feeling of adrenaline before stepping on that nine-panel blue mat flooded with bright lights and the roar of thousands of fans. Win or lose, these feelings will always remain, and that is all that matters.