The Best of Both Worlds
When we talk about defining someone’s strengths and opportunities for growth, one of the common questions is whether they prefer to work as an individual or as part of a team. Some people strongly prefer one or the other while, for others, it’s situational. But life doesn’t let us discern exclusively; we need to be able to succeed in both scenarios. Thankfully, there are nearly limitless sports to choose from on either end of the spectrum.
Team sports offer unique opportunities to grow socially, learn to contribute to a larger goal or cause and to cooperate. Because successes involve multiple people, team sports give shared joy and an opportunity to be something larger. On the flip side, when failure occurs, it teaches empathy and accountability for everyone. There are also unique opportunities to learn to communicate with peers as well as coaches and to socialize with larger groups.
Individual sports like tennis, track and field, gymnastics, swim and golf each allow individuals to shine. Not only do they allow us to singularly reap the benefits of a great performance; they also make us bear the weight exclusively when a performance lacks. As with any sport, they require participants to practice heavily, hone skills and remain disciplined. Individual sports foster a special sense of pride, ownership and accountability, not to mention an opportunity to form strong bonds with another individual (a coach).
While both offer unique benefits, even most individual sports end up involving a team aspect. Gymnasts function as part of a larger team, as do swimmers and track and field athletes. Athletes may not be on the field or court at the same time as other players, but they still experience many of the same benefits and “teachable moments” as straight team players.
Cheerleading falls into this crossover area, offering the social and collaborative benefits of a team sport, but also requiring individual performance. Within the actual cheering aspect, it’s individual vocal projection and movement that count. While cheerleaders are moving in synchronization, they each perform individually. Same goes for the tumbling aspect; odds are that not everyone is doing the same stunts at the same time, so certain individuals have a moment of individual performance. However, those individual performances still contribute to the larger team performance. And, of course, with stunting, each individual contributes to the team’s overall performance – both within their stunting team and the full performance of the entire team.
Cheer offers opportunities for individuals to shine as individuals. It also offers team performance and the social, emotional and collaboration outlets that are so important to our growth. With cheer, you can perform individually as a team and as a team with individuality at the same time: It’s the best of both worlds.