Want to work on your tumbling skills away from the gym? Trying to get your toe touches up there? There are lots of things you can do at home to improve your cheerleading. Just make sure you always start with good stretches, for at least five to ten minutes, and that you don’t try anything you haven’t been trained to do. Having an adult or another responsible person around in case something happens is also a necessity, especially for cheerleading drills that require a cheer spotter.
A forgiving surface is also required. Practice cheerleading drills on wood floors, yoga or tumbling mats, carpet, or grass. Don’t practice cheer drills on pavement, gravel, or other hard surfaces unless you’re looking to get injured or have unsightly road rash. Falling is part of practicing cheerleading stunts, jumps and drills so make sure you do it safely.
For the youth cheerleader, the drills below should be practiced over and over again to gain cheerleading proficiency. Besides checking out the below tips, you can also learn the fundamentals from free cheerleading video tutorials on sites like Weplay.com, where top coaches and pros like Debbie Bracewell answer questions and show the proper way to practice cheerleading drills.
Cheer & Dance Strength Drills
- Bridge bends are important for the flexibility you will need for scorpions and other cheerleading stunts. Make sure you also stretch your wrists and ankles before practicing other cheer drills. If you can’t do a bridge bend without a spotter, work on regular bridges alone. Also, add in some push-ups to strengthen those arms in to support your weight in more complex cheerleading stunts.
Perfect Your Cheerleading Jumps
- You’ve seen cheerleaders with impressive toe touches. With practice, you can get up there too. The trick is a strong core and flexibility, so don’t relax on your stretching and core exercises. A good exercise for this is the straddle-up. Basically this is a jack-knife sit up but you put your legs to the side, rotating your hips up, as you do the sit up. Keep your arms in a T, your body upright, and practice rotating your hips up. Essentially, you are doing a toe touch on the ground. Do 10 to 15 reps and make your core do all the work.
- A second cheerleading drill is to sit on the floor in a straddle position with your hands behind you on the floor as well. Lean back slightly and lift both legs about a foot off the ground at the same time. Try to keep your legs straight. Repeat this 10 times, release and relax for a count of ten, then repeat. Do three sets of these.
- Squat jumps will help you gain height and strength to improve your toe touch. Squat down, touch your fingertips to the floor, and jump up. Bring your arms up as if you were doing a jump with your arms overhead. As soon as you land, return to the starting position. Try to do 20 of these to start, gradually increasing as they become easier.
- Next, put your arms in a T or high V and kick your right leg up five times. Repeat on the left side, adding reps as you get stronger.
- Finally, do some tuck jumps with no break in-between them. Just jump, land, and jump again. Do at least five in a row. These work your stomach and your leg muscles, which are key to improving your abilities as a cheerleader.
- Most tumbling stunts are not safe to practice without a trained cheerleading spotter unless you’ve really mastered them. Front rolls, back rolls, and cartwheels are safer to work on alone though. It is important to work on straightening your legs and keeping your body straight. Any tumbling that involves flying through the air should only be practiced with the help of a trained cheerleading spotter.
- Tumbling requires upper body strength so you can alse improve by doing a lot of handstands to improve your arm strength. This is one of the basic building blocks for all tumbling. Challenge yourself to do ten in a row and then more and more handstands every day until you can easily do fifty or so. If you can’t yet do a handstand, use a wall as a support to increase your balance and strengthen those arms and wrists.
To be successful in cheerleading competitions it is critical that you practice your cheer routines over and over in advance. Marking your routines is a great way to get your timing down and make the routine second nature. Marking is basically just walking through the routine, doing the cheerleading stunts you can do alone and “faking” the ones you can’t. If you can get a copy of the music do so, as this will help with timing and rhythm.
Good luck and remember to have fun with your stunts, jumps and cheers!