8a276cdabf9a10d4947740008b76655333cdf4b4.jpg“You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
~John Wooden

One season, some of my cheerleaders were feeling "blamed" or criticized by somebody, former cheerleaders, or each other or people in the crowd or me- whoever. And I tried to tell them, "have your Ego let it go, but use your brain to filter out what you can use to improve."

When I went from coaching junior high to coaching high school in LA it was important to me that my squad do a good job, so I sat close the whole time and didn't watch the game, or visit with anyone, or take pictures- but I did tell the squad what to do or what not to do. Not only did I make them nervous, I made them feel bad about themselves.

Dangit.pngOne of the cheerleaders, Heather (who'd later become my goddaughter) had the guts to tell me that I was being a little too critical and maybe taking it a little too seriously. I might still do both sometimes, but since that day I've done it on a evaluation sheet based on NCA, COA, and Elite Cheerleading Association judging forms instead of doing it out loud in front of the fans which embarrassed the squad.

It's valuable to receive feedback on your performance, BUT you should neither let it make you feel like you can't do anything or let it go to your head so that you get a big over-inflated ego.

So, whether it's from me, or a former cheerleader, a fellow squad mate, or just some kid in the stands, listen to the criticism or suggestion carefully, don't take it so personally that it ruins your life, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider if and how you can use it to improve- even if you don't have a lot of respect for the source or you know that they meant it to be mean. ANY criticism can become corrective-criticism if you take it to your brain and not your heart.

Being a cheerleader means being under a microscope, on display, on stage. It's not about you, it's about raising spirit and leading the crowd to make noise for the teams- but sometimes it feels like everybody's a critic. You're going to need to learn how to take it, but more importantly, 1. take it in stride, and 2. be willing to take it and do something with it if/when it can actually help.

Remember, have your ego let it go, but use your brain to pick through what you can use to improve.

When you're really feeling bruised and sensitive and the criticism is hard to take, remember Dr. Seuss's sage advice, "Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."