How to Stay Healthy During Competition Season

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Every competitive cheerleader knows that as soon as competition season rolls around your life turns upside down. It seems that everything you usually think about is overshadowed with 8 counts and countdowns until your next performance.

But as much as you want to forget about everything else in your life and focus on your competition routine, there are a few things that should never take a back seat. The most important thing: your health.

If you want to be a fierce competitor you have to take care of yourself. Your health has to be a priority at all times but especially during competition season when you’re pushing yourself harder than usual.

Making sure your body is fueled for the hard practices and competition days is step one in maintaining your health during this busy season. Every cheerleader’s diet will be different but you want to avoid foods that are going to hold you back. Try not to eat foods high in sugar and fat- they’ll slow you down and you will burn through them fast. Instead go for healthy carbohydrates for energy and protein to recover after hard practices.

I never wanted to eat before a big competition. The nerves upset my stomach and who wants to chow down before they flip and fly around? Not me. But not eating was always the wrong decision and by the time I got off the mat I was exhausted and starving, eating whatever I could, good or bad.

On competition days make sure you fuel your body. If you don’t want to eat a big meal try having light snacks throughout the day. Remember those healthy carbs. Carbohydrates are energy that will help you take the stage and hit your routine.

But it’s not all about nutrition, there are many ways to stay healthy and competition ready. We know injuries can happen in cheerleading no matter how careful and prepared we are. If you do get injured in a practice don’t push yourself to keep going just because you want to compete, you could end up hurting yourself worse and maybe even miss the entire season. If something hurts let a coach know. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t forget about your mental health either. Competition is stressful. It makes you anxious, scared, nervous and that can start to affect other parts of your life. If you’re thinking about hitting a stunt at a national competition on Saturday how can you really focus on your midterm exam on Thursday? It’s a lot on your plate and I know how impossible it can seem to do everything and do it to the best of your ability. I found that the best way to get it all done is to take it one day and step at a time. Worry about the exam first. Study and do your best. Then as soon as you bubble in your final answer get ready to focus on that stunt and visualize success. The most important thing- don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

Your health is important. Don’t forget that while you’re counting down to those important 8 counts. Take care of yourself before you take the mat and hit that winning routine.

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Maddie Gardner

Maddie Gardner is a former collegiate cheerleader and recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Maddie began cheerleading at the age of four and spent most of her career at Cheer Extreme All Stars in Mount Airy, NC. Aside from her two Worlds Championship titles, Maddie is well-known for debuting the ball up 360 tick-tock stunt in 2010. Maddie brings her many years of experience as an all-star and collegiate cheerleader to the Chassé Blog and hopes to inspire others to achieve their cheerleading goals.

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