Chasing Perfection in an Imperfect Sport


By Cat Weeden

Updated August 23, 2019

Allstar Cheer is a conundrum.

Allstar Cheer is a conundrum.

We are literally chasing perfection ( Zero Deductions/ a perfect 100 score) in an imperfect sport.  Yes, I can love allstar cheer with every part of me, and still say that this sport is imperfect and its questionable if it is moving in a direction that will solve any of it’s current problems. But that’s for another blog ☺ 

Some of the biggest imperfections with the current state of Allstar Cheer, in my opinion:

1. The rules of play are ever changing
2. Divisions are created and altered to solve perceived problems, but sometimes they create more problems
3. The rising cost of the sport is a barrier to entry and retention
4. Too much of our scoring, point deduction and legality calls are subjective and are without the proper balance and checks system that’s needed for accuracy and legitimacy

5. Until 1-4 are resolved, the disparity between small gyms and larger gyms will not lessen, but only continue to increase.
6. Politics play WAY TOO BIG of a part of ALL aspects of this industry. If you disagree with this, then feel free to stay in the Skunken place…. Cause being blissfully unaware is really a thing.

5. Until 1-4 are resolved, the disparity between small gyms and larger gyms will not lessen, but only continue to increase.
6. Politics play WAY TOO BIG of a part of ALL aspects of this industry. If you disagree with this, then feel free to stay in the Skunken place…. Cause being blissfully unaware is really a thing.

So if I’m saying that so much of allstar cheer is imperfect or broken, then the real question is how do we define “perfection” and how do we obtain it?

The answer to this question is going to be different for everyone. Some may define perfection as a win, a zero deduction routine, no parent complaints, happy teenage girls at practice, no drama, all accounts current ( we can only dream right?). I personally have defined it numerous ways over my career as a coach. Some of these ways ( like ‘Let’s win this event’) make you feel ultra fulfilled if you succeed, but incredibly hollow if you fall short. And most importantly there are factors outside of your control in this industry. You can only control your product, you cannot control what other teams do, or how judges judge creativity, routine comp or even the difficulty of your stunt sequence.

With all the factors you cannot control it is imperative that you focus on the ones that you can control. Take a step back and start focusing again on “The Experience” across the full season. Create or attend an allstar summer camp, find a sister/buddy team to create another layer to your season, choose competitions that offer more than just a bid, and enjoy every moment of your season as it happens.

Create or Attend a camp with other teams in your level or division

Last year the Small Cheer Gym Association held two allstar cheer camps in Tulsa at Luxe, one was for level 3&4 teams and the other was for level 5 teams. We came together, all helped coaches each other’s teams and spent 48 hours learning, bonding and breaking up the monotony that the summer time can be. Our kids interacted and made friends with kids in Texas, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The camp was helpful for skills, but more importantly, it created another experience that our kids will remember for a lifetime. Find some friends, pick a gym and do this! It was awesome

Find a Sister/ Brother Team for the Season

I will be the first to say I thought this was super dumb…. I’m not going to lie.

Just another gimmick that gyms/teams do to stay relevant on twitter or whatever. The idea of having a team across the country that you’re linked to didn’t make sense to me. But what did make sense to me was having a team we were around many times throughout the competition season as a buddy team.

We found this in Icon Cheer Lady Envy. The Lady Legend and Lady Envy kids bonded immediately at our Level 5 camp and continued to stay in touch throughout the summer and fall. Lady Envy’s Head Coach, Tabbi McCallister, and I are great friends, but we didn’t foresee the bond our kids would create. We are cheering each other on during warm ups, on the floor, after the event and during the week. When we struggled, they were there for encouragement, and vice versa. We will practice together at worlds, even got a matching shirt for the girls, and will plan a sister team retreat this summer for the two teams. The addition of a sister team added a whole extra layer to this season for our girls, and I am grateful for it!

Choose a Schedule that Celebrates the Experience

Competition scheduling can be very redundant. Over the last 3 years the only time we adjusted the schedule was in order to accommodate bid intentions/ allocations. The lack of value on the actual event, but the overemphasis on a bid to another event started sucking the life out of me and our families.

We decided to drop a couple local two day events, and instead went to JAMZ Nationals Vegas. And man, that event was the Ultimate Experience. #1 its Vegas , #2 The Closing Awards ceremonies were a complete production, like amazing, #3 for our elite teams there were no bids, we were just trying to win our divisions! 

Imagine that. #4 it was VEGAS! Our families didn’t even care what hardly happened at the competition, because the experience was enough. We will still attend bid events, but they will be attended because they offer something of substance to our families. Whatever your reasoning is for picking events, ask yourself “ what does this event offer my families, experience wise, other than just a bid”

Enjoy as Many Moments as Possible

Go to the parks at your end of season events. Talk about how special each one of your kid’s are at your end of season banquets. Encourage and appreciate all the new skills kids are getting around tryout time, instead of reminding them that a single skill doesn’t make them a specific level. Find a couple parents and let them know how much their words of encouragement have helped you. Connect, connect, connect.

This isn’t about retention; this is about connecting to the people that have believed in you. Make sure people know that this is bigger than just skills and wins for you. You know this is the case, but sometimes they need to hear it from you. And please take the team picture event when you don’t win the event, or place last. The experience of the event was great even if the final placements weren’t what you wanted. Give them a memory to look back on.

 

The imperfections of this sport can literally kill you on the inside, you owe it to yourself to find the joy and fun again. And you owe it to these kids to keep their focus on the aspect of this industry that you can control. At the end of the day you can compete the best routine you ever have done, and you still cannot guarantee a win! That’s just how cheer works. So stay keyed on the experiences you can navigate and create through your program. Families that buy into this will carry these experiences with them for life.

Cat Weeden Signature Full Wht

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Cat Weeden ContributorVIP Client ✪
Director Luxe Cheer
Director of LUXE Cheer in Tulsa Oklahoma. LUXE Cheer specializes in All Star Cheer teams and tumbling classes that will help enhance all of your cheer skills in a fun, competitive atmosphere.
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Cat Weeden ContributorVIP Client ✪
Director Luxe Cheer
Director of LUXE Cheer in Tulsa Oklahoma. LUXE Cheer specializes in All Star Cheer teams and tumbling classes that will help enhance all of your cheer skills in a fun, competitive atmosphere.
follow me
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