When the school year wraps and the temperature rises, cheer practice may be the last thing on your mind. Even so, there’s no reason your fun in the sun can’t double as training for the new season. With great weather comes great cheer activity! Here are a few ways to sneak in practice in the off-season. If you want to improve your jumps, look no further than the pool. You can practice rotating your hips, extending your legs, and sitting into your jumps underwater. The water guides you to an easy landing but also provides some resistance; once you’ve perfected your form and try it on land, you’ll be amazed how high your jumps will be. If you want to improve your stunts, hit the beach for some volleyball. Volleyballs are deceptively solid, so your form when setting and spiking is key. Plant your feet solidly on the ground and maintain balance with a strong core. Keep your arms strong and focus on moving the ball up to get it over the net, not just forward. After diving around in the sand for an hour, your body may be tired, but your basket tosses will thank you in the fall. If you want to improve your stamina, take a walk in the park. Round up some friends and go walking, jogging, or running together. The ups and downs of park paths challenge your legs more than a treadmill, and gabbing with friends while you move also helps you determine pace; if you’re walking or jogging, you should be able to keep up conversation without too much difficulty, but when you turn up the intensity, focus on your breathing. If your cheer squad is together for an outdoor practice, try jogging around in a short loop while cheering at top volume to improve your breathing and the strength of your voices. If you want to improve your cheering, snag tickets to an outdoor concert. A lot of local bands will have shows that are inexpensive or even free to attend. Make some noise when the band takes the stage and sing every word you know, but pull it from your stomach instead of screaming from your throat. Your non-cheer friends may lose their voices before the night is through. Make it your goal to still be going strong at the end of the concert. If you want to improve your team spirit, do any and all of the above‚ and anything else that comes to mind‚ with your squad! Take a day trip somewhere together, do a sleepover, or even get away for a weekend. Time spent together strengthens your friendships and ability to work together as a team, and that’s the most important element when you take to the competition mat. What are your favorite outdoor activities in the summer? They may help you become a stronger cheerleader without your even realizing it!