Around the beginning of May each year, cheerleaders hang up their uniforms and cheer shoes and trade them out for sun dresses and wedge sandals. The backdrop of social media posts switches from convention centers with stages to special event halls with centerpieces. It’s banquet season, and every team loves celebrating successes, reliving funny experiences, saying goodbye to seniors, and relishing in the final moments of a great season together. Awards are given, laughter is shared, and tears are shed. End-of-season banquets truly are a wonderful celebration!
There are many ways to measure a season’s success, and the number of banners your team earned is not always the best indicator. In fact, according to many coaches, some of the most successful seasons didn’t include any wins at all! Here are some ways you can measure your season’s success and stay encouraged for many years to come! This list is great for cheerleaders, but also for coaches that need a reminder of the great job they did this season!
- Memories: A picture is worth a thousand words! If your camera roll is full of goofy selfies, fun pictures, and videos of you and your teammates doing crazy things, you probably had a great time this season! Scroll through Instagram and look at your posts from the season. Ask your parents to look back through their Facebook posts. Coaches make sure to have a slideshow full of pictures and videos at the end-of-season banquet, but do they bring all of the trophies and banners? Maybe sometimes, but usually not. The experiences you had and the memories you made are priceless, and those will last far longer than any banner or trophy!
- Relationships: At their end-of-season banquet, a great coach at a well-known all-star gym always tells his athletes that he hopes they meet their bridesmaids while cheering in their program. Although their gym is unbelievably successful on the competition mat, the relationships developed in their tight-knit, family atmosphere are imperative to the success of their season. Just like the memories made, relationships will far outlast wins and losses. Coaches and parents should emphasize the importance of teammates and friendships, because those relationships are the real rewards of a great season!
- Skills: We all want to get better. Cheerleading is what we love, and we all strive to make it to the next level in our sport. Development is a process, however, and accomplishing one skill at a time is completely okay! Look back at where you were when the season started. Your skill development is a great way to measure the success of your season. Some seasons allow more new skills than others, but any new stunt or tumbling pass is a good one regardless of the level of difficulty. Did your jumps improve? Did you add a new pass? Were you able to move up a row or two in the dance? Don’t discount any new skills, because they’re all important and they’re all great!
- Zero-Deduction Routines: How many times did you HIT? There is nothing more exciting than hitting. Knowing that your team did its very best and nailed every element is absolutely incredible, and coaches should keep track of these successes! With the growing popularity of Cheer Updates on Twitter and HIT badges at certain events, teams are learning how valuable it is to nail those routines with perfection. Remember all of the times your team HIT, and celebrate those accomplishments as much as you can!
- Wins: Of course, winning is important. Teams work hard for a long time to take their best shot at winning competitions. To say that people compete with no goal of winning is pretty ridiculous. Every team has variations in their definition of success, but all teams agree that one thing is important: winning. Some coaches only focus on first place regardless of the level of competition, others are equally as excited about earning fourth out of ten teams. Winning a championship is always exciting, but placing well at a giant event is also just as great! Should winning be the ONLY measurement of a successful season? Absolutely not. But, should it be a measurement? Of course!
- Retention: Many coaches use a more quantitative system to measure a season’s success. How many athletes are returning for the next season? What is the reason others will leave? Although the departure of athletes isn’t always controllable, their happiness is often an indicator as to why they do or don’t return. Communication and transparency are really helpful in determining what changes can be made to avoid losing athletes at the end of the season. Teams could go undefeated and parents would still pull their kids; however, coaches should do their best to communicate with parents and make the necessary adjustments to keep athletes year after year!
If you evaluate your season based upon these simple measurements, you will find that you had a lot of success regardless of wins and losses! Make memories, develop relationships, learn new skills, HIT your routines, place well at competitions (and maybe win a few here and there), and your season will be a great success!