You’re out of school, the days are getting longer and hotter, and your practice schedule is more relaxed than you’re used to. This is the perfect opportunity to go on vacation or decide to skip practice, right? These are just “summer skill building” practices where you start from the beginning all over again, right?
WRONG. Most athletes would’ve answered yes to any of the previous questions. What they don’t realize is how extremely vital this off-season time really is. The summer is the foundation and building blocks of the rest of your season and time together. If you don’t have a full first practice, you’re already slipping behind. Having been on both sides as an athlete and a coach, nobody likes starting back over with perfecting their basics. But the reason why this process is important is because if little Sally just came from XYZ All Stars and was taught a different full up grip, she needs to know how it’s done at ABC Athletics.This is so that everyone is on the same page and has a full understanding of everything they’re doing as a team.
Summer is the fun, non-stressful time in the gym. You don’t have to worry about a routine or a full out after that 5 minute water break. This is the time to work on that standing back handspring, or your toss cupie that isn’t consistent, or finally get that double full you’ve been dreaming about. This is also the time to give your coaches a sense of what your most consistent skills are, so they can be utilized when you do finally begin choreography.
Consistency is a word we see a lot in the industry and sport of cheerleading. How is one team more consistent than another? How does one get set apart from the rest of the competition? It starts in the summer. Sure, at first you’re not going to get most things perfect. Practice makes perfect, perfect makes consistent. The summer is the perfect time to work all the kinks and problems out. This is the time where it’s OKAY to make mistakes and ask questions. You have the time available to have your coaches in front of you explaining things without being scatter-brained or expecting you to already have it textbook perfect.
Powerhouse gyms such as California All Stars, Cheer Athletics, Brandon All-Stars, Stingrays, and a few others put an emphasis and structure around their summer practices. When it comes time for their showcase, most of the time, they look like they could all take a Worlds performance floor and be completely fine. And that’s because there is a certain method and understanding of the importance of the summer practice. So next time you’re considering missing because you’re too tired from laying out in the sun all day, take the following into consideration at the end of your season: Did I really do all that I could have this season to get better and prepared for the next?