At the New Kent Gymnastics Center, coaches and gym owners aren’t taking any safety risks when it comes to their cheerleaders. Helmets are now on the list of required cheer practice wear for the gym’s All Star squad, Virginia Gems. Before any stunting, all team members must strap on an athletic helmet. Reported by ABC local news, gym owner Carissa Baldwin said, “It’s a multi-sport helmet so it’s used for flag football, rugby, lacrosse. It wouldn’t be something they compete in or wear maybe later in the season, but in that first learning phase where it’s brand new that’s where we’ve found the most success.” Carissa adds that, since many other sports use helmets, it shouldn’t seem to strange for cheerleaders to also use them, at least in practice. So far, Carissa, the coach, and team members have witnessed the helmets prevent a number of potential head injuries. This is key, since a recent report revealed that concussions make up 6% of all cheer injuries. Over the past few years, numerous studies have shared the scary injury reports of cheer-related injuries. From what we can tell, the helmets don’t appear bulky and don’t seem to get in the way of the cheerleaders’ movement. However, we do wonder if they hinder eye sight at all or if they are heavy to wear. Depending on these issues, these helmets could potentially affect a cheerleader’s performance when she’s not wearing the helmet, as she won’t be used to it. Check out the news coverage below to see the helmets in action. Don’t forget to tell us what you think about this. Are these helmets a great addition for new squads? Do you think they will prevent many injuries? Or, do you think this is too extreme of a safety measure? Comment below with your thoughts! WRIC Richmond News and Weather – News Source: Wric.com
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If you’re a base for a
cheerleading team, you are well aware that arm strength is crucial to becoming a better base. Tossing, lifting, twisting and catching other girls in the air is not for the faint or weak. Many females, in general, tend to lack the arm strength their male counter parts have, so arm strengthening is the key ingredient to a cheerleading base’s exercise routine. From your triceps to your wrists, here is a fitness plan that will make you a lean, mean, lifting machine. Please remember to stretch and warm up before performing any of these exercises to prevent injury.
Aside from gym machines, here are some at home exercises you can do to strengthen your upper arms:
- Pushups: Lie down on your stomach with your toes to the mat and your legs straight, together and parallel to each other. Your hands should be positioned at shoulder level, but slightly further out than shoulder width, palms flat and fingers spread apart to help with balance. Don’t look at the floor while performing this exercise. You want to look straight ahead to keep your entire body in a straight line. Slowly straighten your arms and keep your back and legs straight while pushing your body off of the floor. Stop for a moment once your arms have reached the top and then slowly lower your body back to the floor by bending your elbows. You’ll want to lower your body until your chest is touching the floor. Keep repeating this exercise in sets to see full results. If you want more of a challenge, place your hands together in a diamond shape using your thumbs and index fingers, at shoulder level and perform the pushup.
- Upside Down Pushups: Get into position by doing a handstand against the wall (you’ll be using the wall to help you keep your balance). When you do the handstand, make sure your not too far away from the wall by placing your finger tips as close to it as possible. Positioning yourself too far away will cause back and neck strain. Lower your body by bending your elbows and keeping your body straight against the wall. Then straighten your elbows to push back up. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions.
- Chair Dips: Take a chair and get into a sitting position, back straight and feet flat on the floor. Grasp the front edge of the chair and rotate your palms so they are facing away from you. Walk your feet out in front of you until your buttocks is no longer over the chair, but in front of the chair. Keep your back as close to the chair as possible and dip your body down by bending your elbows and keeping your back straight. Dip until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and then straighten your elbows to return to the starting position. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions. If you need more of a challenge, take a second chair and rest your heels on it. Repeat the dipping motion, but this time your body will be fully elevated off of the floor.
The weakest part of your arm is your wrist and you’ll be amazed at how many other cheerleading bases share the same strife. Weak or injured wrists will bring pyramid building to a screeching halt. It’s important to take precautions and prevent injury by building your muscle strength in your wrists. Here are some tried and true wrist exercises that other cheerleaders use to strengthen their wrists.
- Wrist Lifts: You’ll want to start with a weight that is fairly light to prevent straining a weak area. A can of soup weighs about ten ounces and is great for beginners. If you need more of a challenge, grab a free weight of about two pounds. Please remember that you will be doing high amounts of repetitions so make sure you grab a weight you’ll be comfortable with. Hold the can in your hand and face your palm upward. Slowly lift the can up and down with your wrist. It’s very important that you do this motion slowly to target your muscles in your wrist. Start with two sets of twenty five for each hand and slowly add more repetitions as your wrists become stronger.
- Hand Squeezes: Grab a tennis ball or a stress ball and slowly squeeze and release in each hand. Do two sets of twenty five in each hand and slowly add more repetitions as your wrists, hands and forearms become stronger.
In addition, before you put your flyer in the air, make sure you and your fellow bases grab a shoe and work out timing, hand and finger positions and coordination. This gives you and your team mates a chance to work out any confusion before risking the safety of your flyer.
How Stunting Started
When cheerleading first began, the main goal was all about
building team spirit. When stunting was incorporated into sideline chants and cheers as a new way to entertain the fans, it also allowed cheerleaders to show a new level of talent and be recognized in a different and innovative way.
Lawrence Herkimer is one of the important figures that can be credited with making
stunting in cheer popular. The clinics he held in the 1940s, now called
cheerleading camps, served as a place for new stunts to be developed and taught, and these stunts eventually spread throughout teams all over the US.
During the 1970s, cheerleading stunts really took off and began progressing from thigh stands to fulls. Pyramids debuted, which involved a large part of the team and and demanded strength and synchronization. As
basket tosses and pyramids started appearing as
standard cheer routine stunts, it was clear that the skill level and athleticism expected from sideline and competition cheerleaders was changing.
By the 1980s competitive teams, now known as
All Star teams, were created in the United States. These teams focused on competitions exclusively, and combined gymnastics, stunting and dancing. When ESPN began broadcasting cheerleading competitions nationally, it was these All Star teams that helped usher cheerleading and its stunting element into main stream America. As the popularity of cheerleading spread, All Star teams created more cutting-edge stunts; the skill level these teams reached was phenomenal.
In the 1990s, other areas of cheerleading were being manipulated. Spring floors were introduced, and the competition mat size increased which made room for bigger and better stunts. Basket tosses now involved twists and flips. The simple liberty had transformed and now a
flyer showed off her flexibility by performing scales, bow-and-arrows and scorpions.
Since cheerleading was still growing, and was not a sanctioned sport, there were no regulated rules and guidelines that restricted the devleopement of new stunts. Each
cheerleading team had the freedom to branch out and use any moves they wanted to create new stunts. While this allowed cheerleading to progress with innovation, it also put the athletes in danger.
Rules and Regulations of Stunting
As stunting became part of the competitive aspect of cheerleading, so did the pressure to reach a certain level of creativity and difficulty. Although these advancements made stunting that much more entertaining and breathtaking, they also became more dangerous. Injuries were becoming more likely with stunting and cheerleading was labeled as one of the most hazardous activities for young athletes. Since cheerleading is not a sanctioned sport yet, individual governing organizations are responsible for creating and annually revising rules and regulations. While there is a general acceptance of the rulings from these organizations, it isn’t uncommon for competitions to have their own set of stunting regulations – banning some stunts and limiting others so that tossing, twisting and flipping can only be done in a certain way and at a certain height.
One thing is for sure; cheerleading would not be what it is today without the inclusion of stunting. New stunt
trends and techniques debut annually, along with new regulations, which keeps the platform of cheerleader on a constantly changing path.
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