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Good stuff for cheerleaders & coaches.

What if you could you learn skills faster?

For most cheerleaders, learning a new skill involves trying it and listening to the coach’s spoken instructions. It’s worked for years – it’s how I usually coached too – but it’s not the only way to learn, and it might not be the most effective.

We’ll borrow one more concept from Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. Gallwey described an experiment where one group of people learned a tennis stroke with the traditional verbal instruction method, while another group learned by only watching an expert’s stroke for awhile. The result? The group who learned by only watching performed way better!

How? That’s not entirely clear, but Gallwey theorized that learning-by-watching is how people naturally learn physical movements, like when a toddler learns to walk or jump. Furthermore, many skills have subtle movements that can be hard to describe verbally, but our eyes can pick up on.

So what’s the takeaway? If you’re a cheerleader working a new skill, keep listening to your coach, but also repeatedly closely watch experts perform that skill. You could do this at practice or with videos – just make sure the subject you’re watching has excellent technique. It can also help to record yourself attempting the skill and compare it to experts’ video.

If you’re a coach, consider adding opportunities for your kids to really watch a skill as they learn it, sometimes giving a simple instruction like “watch where Sara’s elbow goes” rather than trying to explain where the elbow goes.

I hope this concept helps you learn new skills faster so you and your team can dominate! Now go do work! 🙂

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