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Partner Stunt Champion Nick Lutz and the Secret to Success

Who’s Nick, you ask? He cheers for Morehead State and won UCA’s 2017 Partner Stunt nationals. Before transferring to Morehead, he cheered for me at KU for four years. So is this a post about my amazing coaching? Haha – no – almost the opposite. It’s an inside look at how a local Kansas kid went from being a pretty good high school recruit to winning partner stunt nationals, and what we can learn from his process to make ourselves better. Here’s what it took:

1. Fundamentals
Nick wasn’t an elite gymnast, but he could hold a handstand with good form for a couple MINUTES – no exaggeration. It was impressive. How does a good handstand help his stunting? It uses the same vertical lines and centered-weight principles that are key fundamentals in proper stunting. Without good fundamentals, it’s much harder to learn and consistently hit elite stunts.

2. Consistent hard work
Part of our #NoDaysOff crew, Nick stunted a LOT. He’d be at almost every open gym. He’d stunt outside. He’d stunt on vacation. The result? He got a little better every day. But it’s important to note that mindless repetition isn’t what works. After all, if you practice something wrong over and over, it’ll just reinforce that wrong technique. When Nick practices, you can tell he has a self-reflective focus – a learning mindset – similar to what some call “Deliberate practice.”

3. Deliberate practice
Here’s a quote from James Clear’s excellent Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice: “While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance … It always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.”

4. Curious, not angry
Some people get mad and/or frustrated when they’re struggling to hit a stunt, but that anger just makes it harder. Nick was good at having a more ‘curious’ mindset, eg, “Hmm…why didn’t that stunt attempt hit? Maybe it was ______ – let’s try changing that.” This is a much more productive – and enjoyable – approach.

5. Fulfill your obligations
We had lots of good guys cheer at KU, but some had trouble making grades and meeting team rules, and if they didn’t, they couldn’t compete for us at all (which was a total bummer for everyone!) It may not be exciting, but first and foremost, you have to fulfill your team rules and obligations before and during your daily grind toward greatness!

So let’s learn from Nick’s story: achieving success doesn’t happen overnight. It involves good fundamentals, consistent hard work with deliberate practice, and fulfilling your obligations first.

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