In cheer, it’s interesting to me that there isn’t just one perspective—and they’re all different. From the athlete’s perspective, the focus typically lies on mastering a specific skill and aiming for a win. Parents generally also focus on that win, along with their athlete’s development. Coaches focus on each athlete’s development, building teams and competition.
Let me break that down:
– Each athlete’s development: At PCT Cheer and Tumble, on the surface, what we do is teach athletes how to stunt, tumble and cheer. What we really do is teach athletes to become remarkable human beings with resiliency in life and the capacity to feel, love, teach and grow. And somewhere in between that, they hopefully learn how to do a perfect basket toss or back tuck.
– Building teams: Obviously, teams are made from athletes, so we’re developing each athlete individually. But one of our other jobs is to group athletes into teams who work together to perform and compete (we’ll get to that in a minute).
We aim to build teams that will bond, where each athlete will help to build and strengthen areas in other athletes, and where the various athletes will foster beyond-the-gym personality and character development in each other.
– Competition. You’ll notice that I didn’t include a focus on winning for our coaches. That’s because winning isn’t our priority—at least not in the traditional sense (again, we’ll get to that in a minute). Our focus is on competing. Yes, competition comes with shiny trophies at the end—but we believe that if that trophy is the only goal in sight, you’re not winning—even if that trophy does make its way to your mantle. The real competition is against yourself.
It’s like super active, acrobatic yoga, in a sense. In yoga, there are ways to extend or minimize each pose to your specific level. You aren’t supposed to compare your own pose with that of the others in the class; you instead focus on your individual progress, gaining insights to your own strengths, abilities and weaknesses. Competition should be the same in the individual athlete sense.
Of course, our competitions are team competitions, so beyond measuring each athlete, we’re measuring the strength of the team. How do the athletes work together? Where can individuals grow within the team or better support members? Where is the progress?
Which brings us to winning. Because it’s a competition, someone will win and someone will (gasp) lose. In fact, there will be lots of “losers.” Our teams may be some of them. And that’s ok—because the trophy is not our definition of a win. Each athlete learning something and us getting to see progress in each individual and the cumulative team’s progress is. If we’re growing and improving and melding, we’re winning. And if the trophy happens to come with that, great!
Our philosophy is pretty simple:
We don’t want to just build winning teams; we want to build teams that win.
That has nothing to do with a trophy count or our competition placing. It has to do with a million other things. Truth be told, if our athletes and our parents support and embody that philosophy, we know that we’re winning every day. And if our teams are winning every day, odds are that at least one of those trophies will find its way to the team—because to win daily, each member of the team will be diligent, supportive, practice intently, and grow a little bit personally, each and every day.
CJ Pugh is the Owner of PCT Cheer & Tumble. He is a father of two young boys, a passionate coach and, a life-long learner.