In the sport of cheerleading, sideline routines for sports are often choreographed with chants and claps that include the crowd, but also serve the purpose of creating a “beat” for the cheerleaders to follow. In order to coordinate the movements of the athletes, everybody needs to be following the beats or counts.
The counts might be invisible to the crowd at a sporting event because the words and rhythms of the performance disguise the mechanics of the routine. But, during practice all the movements are learned to what is called an “8-count.” Most coaches also use an 8-count sheet as a written form of cheerleading choreography. Competitive routines, choreographed to music, also follow the standard of using 8-counts.
Like real life, in times of trouble, there are consistent routines that we fall back on. When a fall happens, it is recommended to catch the flyer and get that athlete back onto her feet as quickly as possible. Then the stunt group follows the counts and plans to re-enter the routine using eye contact and nodding signals.
After months of practicing the routine, all athletes will know the counts of the choreography and will know that the next “one” for example will be the setup for a new move and would be a good time to re-enter. When a team has countless hours of practice, all focused on a shared goal, all the bodies work as one machine. The counts serve as a timing device to provide synchronicity in the process.
How to get back up? Pause to make sure everyone is righted and on their feet. Then, listen to the clues that will inform you about the timing about what is happening around you. Think about the routines that you know and what comes next. Wait for the right moment to join back into the routines of life that are pulsing to the beat.