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The difference between winning and losing can often be determined by one’s mind set; not only on the day of competition, but during training as well. Being able to turn on and focus, day in and day out, is not as easy as it may seem. Developing the right mind set is a critical part of any athlete’s journey to success. Here are 3 points to help any athlete understand what it takes to develop an Athletic Mindset.

1. Conditioning

The dreaded “C” word; it’s probably the one word that athletes hate to hear the most. The mind set and approach you take to conditioning will often determine how well your season will go. This is not just in regards to the conditioning you do at training, this also has to do with the conditioning you do outside of the gym. The time spent at training is not enough to get ready for competition season. In order to be a true athlete, you need to be conditioning your body 4-5 times a week. Here are my top 3 apps to help you with conditioning outside of the gym;

C25k – Is designed for inexperienced runners. The app is structured to prevent new runners from giving up and at the same time challenges them to continue moving forward, C25K works because its starts with a mix of running and walking, Gradually building up strength and stamina.

You Are Your Own Gym – This app is based on the best-selling book by Mark Lauren “You Are Your Own Gym” – Exercise at home using the same techniques used by Special Forces. Use the body you have to build the body you want!

Nike Training Club – Choose individual workouts or select a targeted structured program to help you get lean, toned, or strong. Add running to boost your results.

All these apps are available from the App Store; they are a great resource for any athlete or even coaches that want to develop a better conditioning program at their gym. 
If you know you are someone that struggles getting motivated when it comes to conditioning, get together with your team mates outside of the gym and do it together; this way you have someone to help push you. Conditioning your body will not only make you feel better, after doing all those full outs, it will also help you to perfect and gain new skills and will help you limit injuries and speed up recovery time.

2. Training

The way you approach training each and every time you are in the gym has a great impact on your development as an athlete and also your team. We all have things going on in our lives outside of cheer, but being able to leave those problems at the door every time you are at training is vital. Learning how to focus all your energy onto the job at hand is not only a great lesson for athletes, it’s also something you can use in your day to day lives. David Epstein delivered a really interesting talk titled; “Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?” In this talk he discusses how when someone gets electrocuted and is pushed across the room, it’s not actually the electricity doing it, instead, it is a full release of the potential energy within your muscles that propels you across the room. Our brain limits this during our day to day activities in order to protect us from damaging our tendons and ligaments. Top athletes have developed the ability to harness some of this potential energy, they do this by tuning out the outside world and focusing all their energy onto the task at hand; this technique can also be applied to cheerleading and will help you get the most out of every minute you spend at training.

3. Competition Day

We all get those competition day nerves, but being able to deal with and control them is an important part of any athlete’s mindset. You have two options you can either let them get the better of you, or you can harness them and use them to your advantage. It’s actually a very simple thing to do if you have applied yourself 120% to the first two points. You will find that the way you feel as you stand behind that curtain waiting to take the mat will be a totally different experience for you than it usually is. Here are a few additional things you can do to help get in the right mindset, from the time you wake up, un till the time you compete;

  • The night before you compete have out and ready to go; your uniform, shoes, make-up, and hair products so when you wake up you are not running around stressing trying to find everything.
  • When you wake up have something healthy for breakfast. If you don’t fuel your body you will not get the best out of it.
  • If time lets you, go for a walk and try to focus on your routine.
  • When you get to the venue, try to relax before your warm up time, sit and listen to music or read.
  • Warm up time is critical to the success of your performance and every coach has their own way of taking warm up. No matter what method your coaches choose to do the best thing you can do is treat it just like you do at practice in the gym
  • When you take the mat visualise your routine one last time and most importantly remember to BREATH!!

These are just a few simple things you can use in order to make competition day a success. Please don’t think this article is aimed at higher level Cheerleaders; it’s not. From level 1-5 you should always strive to be the best of the best. Coaches, teaching your younger athletes how to think this way at a young age will only set them up for success as they grow and get older. There is no easy road to developing an athletic mindset, it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, sweat, and tears; but once you develop an understanding of what it is really like to be an athlete, only then will you truly become a champion.

“Being able to think like an athlete, will have you training like an athlete, which will result in you being a champion” – Dan Dunn

This article was provided by Daniel Dunn from Next Level Cheer. Next Level Cheer offers a wide variety of skill clinics and choreography services for more information please email nextlevelcheer@mail.com.

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