The Difficulties of Team Cheering in a Digital Age

bobcat-cheering-squad
Photo Courtesy: Facebook, @WVWCSwimming WVWC Bobcat Swimming

By Sarah Noll, Swimming World College Intern.

Imagine

You’re behind the blocks, ready to swim your first race at conference. You’ve trained all year for this. All of the sore muscles, the long hours, the chlorine smell that won’t go away has led to this moment. As a seasoned athlete, you aren’t nervous, but you want some last-minute assurance. You look over to your coach and get that thumbs up. Then you look over to your teammates and they are… all looking at their phones. Or sitting down. Or just not paying attention in general. 

emily-kroll-wvwc-swimming

Photo Courtesy: Andy Smith Facebook @mountaineastconference

This scenario is all too familiar at swim meets today. Athletes often forget to take the time to be a teammate. There are so many distractions and meet rituals going on that cheering for teammates is often forgotten. Getting ready for a race is not the problem: forgetting to support your friends and teammates is. Our coaches all encourage us to cheer each other on, but not every swimmer hears or sees their teammates during a race. 

The Real Issue

Cheering is not really about being heard – it is about being seen. The simple act of standing up for your teammate and being present goes deeper than yelling encouragement or acting silly on deck. It’s about showing support for your team. It’s about being a teammate. We’ve all been asked this question at some point in our lives: “What does TEAM stand for?” Together everyone achieves more. It might be a bit cliche, but the message is sincere. While cheering does not make a hard event easier, it can help give a teammate the will to push a little harder. Not all swimmers notice if you are there, but those who do are more motivated to give it their all in a race. 

We all love knowing that we are supported and have a group out there cheering us on. A polled group of 74 swimmers and swammers from high schools and colleges across the United States all said that while they might not have always noticed whether their teammates were cheering them on, they all agreed that they were more motivated and felt better about their race if they saw or heard a teammate cheering for them.

The Solution

emily-kroll-cheering

Photo Courtesy: Brian Bergstrom/My Buckhannon

So how can you become better at cheering? For some people, a simple “high five” will do the trick. Yelling, “Let’s go!” before the swimmer gets up on the blocks is another great way of pumping up your teammates. Standing on the side of the pool and waving your arms frantically might seem unnecessary, but it is appreciated by the tired swimmer struggling through the mile to score points for the whole team. The simple act of standing up and being engaged with what is going on around you and supporting your teammate might be enough to get them motivated enough to out-touch a rival.

Not every swimmer needs a huge pep talk when they are behind the blocks. Not everyone can hear or see their team when they are swimming, but everyone wants support and reassurance. Get to know your teammates and what works best for them to help get them pumped up for their races. Cheering at practice is another great way to build each other up. Swimming is a very difficult sport, and the mental and physical toll of pushing your body to its limits every day is challenging. Sometimes all an athlete needs is a pat on the back and a “good job, keep up the good work” every once in a while. We all work hard, so let’s celebrate our dedication and cheer each other on. 

Remember

It’s not bad to have your meet rituals and to not always pay attention to every teammate’s race. Everyone benefits from encouragement. Take the time to be a teammate today, and cheer each other on.

How do you prefer your teammates to cheer you on? Comment below!

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
avatar
Carol
3 years ago

Spot on. I’ve been trying to get this across for years to my HS team. I’ll be sure to share this in the future!

avatar
Michael Stott
3 years ago

As a swim coach I like the policy of no cell phones on deck during meets.

avatar
Kennedy Stallworth
3 years ago

I like for my teammates to watch me and give me feedback on my race (the good and the bad), because it builds a lasting respectable relationship throughout the season. As an athlete, I would be able to hold my self accountable to stay consistent or get better. But most of all it shows that they care.

Awesome article!

avatar
3 years ago

Kalina Grace Emaus Best Cheerer ever!

avatar
Noah Parsons
3 years ago

That’s my Sarah noll

avatar
3 years ago

Absolutely love this. My favorite memories were the reactions on some of my teammates faces after swims. I remember when one girl broke 1:10 in the 100 breastroke. I was crying I was just so happy. Seeing others swim is by far to me, I may be very strange , but it’s the absolute best part and I hope everyone else loves it toooooo:)

avatar
3 years ago

This is amazing!!!!

avatar
Antone Balbo
3 years ago

Tone at the top means everything. On both my kids college teams the kids are expected to be present (I.e, paying attention) and cheering for their teammates, and it means everything. That starts with the coaches.

avatar
Les Howard
3 years ago

Well said. I would like the policy of no cell phones on deck. If you want photos during a meet pass your phone to a spectator in the stands.

avatar
3 years ago

Rob Crofts

avatar
Greg Wolff
3 years ago

Love the pictures from WVWC! I coached there in 90-91

avatar
Sarah Noll
3 years ago
Reply to  Greg Wolff

That’s so cool! I swim there now with April Gitzen as our head coach! Love this team ?

avatar
Greg Wolff
3 years ago

Love the pictures from WVWC! I coached there in 90-91.

avatar
3 years ago

Frederico Henriques