After months of practice, “Heather” had mastered every skill in her routine and her timing was perfect. But once she hit the mat during competition, her face went blank and she froze mid-step. Although she’d been involved with cheer from the age of five, she still experienced periodic bouts of performance anxiety, especially at key moments.
Heather isn’t alone—the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about eight percent of teens age 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder. In many cases, a certain amount of anxiety can be beneficial, providing an effective way to handle a difficult situation. But excessive anxiety can, in certain circumstances, become disabling, and for cheer teams, too much anxiety could spell serious trouble.