When it comes to fitness, there are some things you should just be able to do. They will make you a better cheerleader, but maybe even more importantly, they will give you confidence, which will‚ you guessed it‚ make you a better cheerleader. Setting, working toward, and achieving goals is what any athlete thrives on. So as you set your goals for this year, include these fitness challenges. If you’ve already accomplished these, alter the numbers accordingly to challenge yourself and ultimately improve your fitness level and cheerleading ability. Run three miles. It doesn’t have to be fast or hard, but unless you have a serious knee injury or something similar, running three miles without stopping is something any healthy person should be able to do. Start with a shorter distance if you need to and work up to it. If you don’t know how long three miles is, many apps will track your run for you or you can just time it. If you jog for 30 minutes without stopping, you will probably be around three miles. Do 20 push-ups. This might not be possible on day one, but it is definitely possible. Some people naturally have upper body strength and some people just don’t, but anyone can do 20 push-ups. You just have to work up to it. Start with four sets of five push-ups, resting enough in between sets that you are able to complete the push-ups with proper form. Or, start with five regular push-ups, then do 15 more with your knees down to reach 20. Do that every day for a week. The next week do two sets of 10 push-ups or 10 push-ups followed by 10 more with your knees down. In a couple weeks, you will be able to do 20 regular push-ups in a row. Once you’ve reached that milestone, keep doing them! Maybe you want to keep going until you reach 30 or 50, or maybe you just want to do 20 every day or twice a day to maintain your arm and core strength, but don’t stop doing them! Hold a plank for one minute. Just like the push-ups, you will probably have to work up to this one. Holding a plank for 20 seconds is a great start. Hold a plank for 20 seconds every day for a week, then do 30 seconds every day the next week. Keep going until you reach one minute. For a bonus, do a side plank, too. Just do your normal 20-second front plank, then turn to one side and hold it for 20 seconds, then the other. You’ll have your planks at one minute in no time. Play music or talk to a friend to distract yourself. You will probably shake after a few seconds. That’s OK. That means your muscles are working. Planks are great for your abs and even define and strengthen your arms in the process. Stick to a daily routine. Do something active, outside of cheer practice, every day. Find ways to seamlessly integrate exercises into your day. Do you eat microwave oatmeal every morning for breakfast? Do 20 squats while it’s in the microwave. Is your sister still in the shower? Do a set of push-ups while you wait. Does your family watch a certain show every night? Do a plank during the commercial break. Is it too cold to get out of bed? Get up and do 50 jumping jacks or jump ropes. Talk a few friends or family members into joining you for a five-minute ab session every night. (Take turns picking out ab exercises. For example, you could pick 20 leg lifts. After you all do that, your dad could pick 50 Russian twists. Your sister could then pick 30 bicycles, and so on until five minutes is up.) Getting fit doesn’t have to be hard or inconvenient. Just do small, effective exercises when you can! Are you up for the challenge? What fitness goals have you set for the new year?
Health & Fitness
The most difficult part of
preparing for tryouts is figuring out what to focus on. Cheerleaders are told they need to know this and this and this and this. While it’s great to know as much as possible, you don’t want to run yourself thin and try to learn too much.
If you don’t have a lot of time to prepare for tryouts (or want to focus on just a few skills), make sure you spend the time to perfect these five easily forgotten (and sometimes underestimated) skills before tryouts:
- Cheering loud and coherently. A lot of people underestimate the talent it takes to cheer loud while still being coherent. A loud, clear voice exudes confidence and is a characteristic of a cheerleader. As your voice gets louder and you speak quickly or in rhythm, your words can easily muffle. As you practice cheers, shout and enunciate your words so everything is easily comprehensible. Project your voice from your diaphragm, not your chest. Make sure you don’t scream and shriek. The easier it is for an audience to understand your cheers, the sooner they can join in!
- Knowing the cheer lingo. You don’t have to be an accomplished cheerleader or tumbler to make the team. However, it can really help if you know the cheerleading terminology for motions, stances, jumps, and stunts. Check out our free eBook, The Cheerleading Guide to Stances and Motions, to learn all the terms (and even how to do them step-by-step!).
- Looking like a cheerleader. What’s easiest way to convince a coach you can be a cheerleader? Look like one! Dressing the part plays a bigger role than many think when it comes to tryout decisions. It shows you’ve done your research, that you want to be a cheerleader, and that you’re professional and prepared. Wear form-fitting shorts and a tank or shirt. Keep your hair in a high ponytail and wear a bow in your team or school colors. Don’t forget clean, white shoes and white socks.
- Knowing why you want to be a cheerleader. So you want to be a cheerleader. Why? It’s important that you have a thought out response, as some coaches will ask interview questions to prospective cheerleaders. Don’t just say “because it looks cool” or “because I like the cheerleader’s uniform.” Think about the moment you decided you wanted to be a cheerleader and why. Did a spirited cheerleader inspire you? Do you want to spread school spirit? Have an answer ready in case you’re asked this.
- Having good balance. While we’ve frequently discussed the importance of flexibility and strength training, we haven’t focused on another key aspect: balance. No matter how flexible you are, a heel stretch or scorpion won’t look very good if you can’t balance on one foot. What’s great about balance is that it’s easy to practice on your own at home. Practice standing on one leg for as long as you can. Once you’ve mastered that, extend one leg either to the front or to the back to create an “L’ shape and hold the pose for 15 seconds. Keep working on improving your balance every day.
What’s another cheer skill people forget to work on? What is your advice for tryouts? Share below!
The liberty (or lib) is a basic cheerleading stunt that is used by flyers in several base positions including the prep, a full and a double thigh stand. This is a general overview of the
basic cheer motions of a liberty, from the ground.
How to Do A Liberty
Step 1: Start by standing straight with her legs together, her feet flat on the ground and her arms at her sides.
Step 2: Bend your left leg and point your toes, pulling your knee up toward your chest until your toes reach your right leg’s knee.
Step 3: At the same time, extend your arms into a High V motion (where your arms are raised at a 45-degree angle from your head, your hands are in fists with your thumbs facing out, pinkies facing back).
Once you have the basic motions, practice hitting them while standing on a smaller, elevated surface to prep performing a lib in the air with a
cheer stunt group.
Video tape yourself performing the motions. Watch it with your team mates, coach and mentor so they can help you pinpoint any problem areas.
When performing a stunt, a flyer should always keep her knees locked and her legs straight so that the bases can hold her up.
Proper posture is also essential for flyers. A flyer should always practice keeping her back straight so she isn’t in the habit of leaning forward or backward.
Keeping smooth arm motions is vital for balance. One trick is to hold onto your shorts when you are going up into the air to keep your arms in control and your overall body stable.
This is a general overview of some basic cheer motions with the focus on the position of the arms. You may perform them, or see them performed, slightly different. These motions can be used while a cheerleader is on the ground or up in a stunt, and the position of his or her feet will vary from being shoulder width apart to being together, depending on when and the motion is being used.
You may also know some of these moves by different names, since
cheerleading teams might refer to a move by a unique, regional name. Many of these moves are combinations of other basic, more common moves that were covered in earlier articles.
other cheer motion articles to get tips to you help you perfect all your motions and strengthen your arms!
Hip Low Touchdown
basic Low Touchdown motion, bend one arm up and in, and bring your fist to rest on your hip. This move can be done as a left or right motion. The arm that stays in the Low Touchdown position will determine which direction the move is.
basic T motion, bend one arm and bring your fist to rest on your hip. This move can be done as a left or right motion. The arm that stays in the T position will determine which direction the move is.
Hip Half T
basic Half T position, bring on arm and rest your fist on your hip. This move can be done as a left or right motion. The arm that stays in the Half T position will determine which direction the move is.
Now that school is nearly out and summer is upon us, it’s time to start thinking ahead and planning for cheer camp. As exciting as cheer camp sounds‚ I mean, who isn’t excited to get away from their parents for a summer retreat for days with their BFFs!??‚ one aspect you need to consider is staying safe. I know, I know‚ how dangerous can cheer camp possibly be, right? Nothing sounds better than spending long, warm summer days with your closest friends, and even meeting and building new friendships with others. Cheer camp, for me, was always a breath of fresh air: you get to meet new cheerleaders who share your same interests as you, see some familiar faces, and work on perfecting your cheers, routines, tumbling, stunts, etc. My experience attending cheer camp was like the kickoff to my summer. As fun and amazing as all this sounds, there are still some important factors that you NEED to be aware of, like:
1. WATER: One of the most important things that you must not forget is to stay hydrated. The last thing you want to experience at camp is dehydration! Trust me, I’ve been there. And, once you’ve become dehydrated, it is difficult to overcome. Heatstroke is also a concern, and the best way to prevent that is taking enough water breaks in between activities. So, drinking plenty of water throughout your stay at camp it very important. Always have a water bottle on hand, and remember to occasionally take some sips even if you’re not thirsty.
2. SUNSCREEN: Next to water, sunscreen‚ without a doubt‚ is very important, as well. Lathering up on that sunscreen will not only save you from burning, but will also combat sun damage. When selecting a sunscreen, purchase one with an SPF of 15 or higher; you should also select broad-spectrum or full-spectrum sunscreen, as it is designed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Even though it may seem like a chore now, trust me, you’ll be glad you wore that sunscreen at camp later on down the road. Wearing sunscreen not only keeps the wrinkles away, but also keeps you youthful-looking in the years to come.
3. FOCUS: As easy as it is to get caught up in all the excitement of being at camp, staying focused on the task at hand is key. Paying attention and practicing good listening skills are not only important for learning new routines and cheers, but also absolutely necessary when performing stunts or tumbling. Most injuries in cheerleading happen while performing stunts or tumbling routines. The last thing you want to happen is someone getting dropped and seriously injuring themselves because you weren’t focused! Remember: your fellow teammates are counting on you, and are putting their trust in your hands‚ literally. If you find yourself getting caught up in all the fun and excitement, remember to STOP, LISTEN, and always ABIDE by the rules.
4. THE BUDDY SYSTEM: Last, but not least, always use the buddy system. Many of us have learned this system at a very young age: never go anywhere alone, and always let your camp counselor or coach know where you are going ahead of time. This will not only help your coaches and counselors keep track of where you are, but if something happens, like an injury, your coaches will notice and your “buddy’ will be able to assist you in getting the help you need.
In what other ways have you stayed safe at camp? Do you have any more tips for first-time cheer camp-goers? Let us know in the comments!
Brittany Davila’s journey to become a cheerleader hasn’t been easy. The 16-year-old from Deer Park, Texas found a place on her high school
cheer squad, only to be benched a few weeks later.
Brittany is a young girl with Down Syndrome and her greatest love is cheering. While learning cheers isn’t easy, Brittany loves what she does. She was named an honorary member of her high school squad and practiced all summer. However, at the second game of the school year, she was told she can’t cheer
on the sidelines because she was a liability and that, instead, she would have to sit in the stands. Confused and upset, Brittany’s parents went to school administrators, arguing that Brittany is no more a liability than any other cheerleader. They also argued that they understand the
dangers of cheerleading and don’t believe Brittany is in harm’s way.
Brittany’s mother, Buffy, told KTRK, “I know she’s “different,’ but my whole thing is everybody should be treated the same. If there’s something she can’t do, then she just can’t do it. But don’t tell me she can’t do it without even letting her try.”
and her parents’ words made an impact and Brittany was just recently reinstated on the team. She’ll continue as an honorary member, meaning she doesn’t attend competitions or perform any stunts. However, at games, she’ll cheer on the sidelines with the rest of the team. When the team performs group stunts, Brittany will stand off to the side to ensure she doesn’t get hurt.
Do you think the school’s and coach’s concerns were valid? Should a school worry more about the safety of a disabled or special needs cheerleader? Or, should he/she be treated like every other cheerleader and student?
Watch the video below to see the news coverage!
shoulder sit stunt and dismount are basic cheerleading skills, but still require strength, agility, skill and
trust among squad members. Members of cheerleading stunt groups need to have a
fitness and strengthening routine to keep their bodies and muscles conditioned for the demands of stunting. Stunts and dismounts should only be performed under proper, trained supervision to
ensure the safety of everyone. Proper
cheerleading practice wear and shoes must be worn at all times when practicing stunts.
Before any group attempts a stunt or dismount, they should discuss and decide on a standard count series. Each and every stunt and dismount a group performs should be done on counts, and it is typically the responsibility of the spotter to keep the beat and call it out. Timing is critical in stunting and dismounting, and new teams need to practice their timing as much as they practice their actual stunts.
How To Perform A Back Shoulder Sit Dismount
Bases: The base will bring one hand under the flyer’s thigh and bring it in front of the flyer’s leg. Once in that position, the base will signal the flyer to bring one arm down by tapping her leg.
Once the base has the flyer’s hand securely gripped, the base should repeat those steps with their other arm. As the base secures their grip on the flyer’s hands, they should also be preparing to take on the flyer’s weight. This weight should be held in their shoulders.
After the base has securely gripped both of the flyer’s hands, the base will dip slightly. As the base rises from the dip, they should give the flyer a powerful pop off of their shoulders. The base should concentrate on pushing the flyer upwards, not backwards.
Keeping their arms tight and strong, the base will lead the flyer down to the ground by keeping a firm grip on the flyer’s hands.
As the flyer reaches the ground, the base should bend their knees slightly to help absorb some of the impact.
Once the flyer has landed and is stable the base should release her hands and the entire group should face forward with their feet together and their arms at their sides.
Flyer: Once the base taps the flyer’s thigh, the flyer should release her feet from behind the base’s back and extend them forward.
After gripping both of the base’s hands, the flyer should shift their body weight to the base’s hands.
Once those main hand grips are secure, the base and spotter will dip slightly, then release the flyer by popping her up and off the base’s shoulders. The flyer should keep her elbows locked during the pop up.
As the flyer is being released, she should swing her legs behind her torso. Swinging her legs back will allow her to push slightly away from the base, so that she can give herself enough room to land behind her base.
The flyer should bring her feet together so that she lands with both feet at the same time, and bend her knees to absorb the shock of the landing.
Once the flyer has landed and is stable, the base and spotter will release her and the entire group will face forward with their feet together and their arms at their side.
Spotter: The spotter will help guide the flyer down by keeping her hands on the flyer’s waist throughout the dismount.
Once the main hand grips between the bases and the flyer are secure, the spotter should follow the movements of the base as she dips, and prepare to take on more weight when the flyer is released.
As the flyer is coming down, the spotter should help stabilize her and absorb some of the impact of the landing by bending their knees.
Once the flyer has landed and is stable, the spotter can release her waist and the entire group faces forward with their feet together and their arms at their side.
If your squad is ready for something a little more challenging, check out the step-by-step illustrated guide How To Perform A Front Shoulder Sit Dismount for Cheerleading!
The beauty of a
cheerleading team is that everyone has a specific role on the team, and without each other, the team doesn’t exist. Period. End of discussion. Here are a few specific tips for flyers.
The flyer is the gravity defying individual you see being thrown into the air or contorting their bodies into ridiculous shapes such as a “bow and arrow” and
“scorpion” while balancing on a bunch of hands. Now would be the time that I ask you to rub your belly and pat you head while jumping in circles…kidding! Either way you look at it, these girls need to be capable of making the audiences’ head spin! So if you think your ready to be a flyer or want to improve your flying skills, read on!
Cheerleading flyers have a duel responsibility of being flexible and muscular. There are three important attributes a flyer must have and remember when planning a fitness routine: a strong legs and core, impeccable balance and extreme flexibility. Today, we will start with the most important but most overlooked part of the fitness routine for flyers: the core. I have gotten many, many questions from cheerleaders on why they are off balance and why they are extremely flexible but can’t perform a toe touch. Here is the answer to every cheerleaders burning questions on performance: if you have a strong core, you can prevent injury, touch your toes and have impeccable balance. So here it is. A how-to-build-your-core list that will have you flying high in not time!
- Crunches: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Tighten your ab muscles and raise your upper body through your shoulders towards your knees. Hold the position for a second and then get into the starting position once again. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise.
- Side crunches: Assume the starting position of a crunch (see above). Drop your knees to one side on the floor but keep them bent. Your body will now be slightly on its side. Place your palms behind your head and inhale before you perform the side crunch. You will be primarily using your oblique muscles to bring your body up into a side crunch. Your side will bend as your shoulder lifts off the mat into the crunch. As you are coming up, slowly exhale. Be sure that your head remains in line with your neck the whole time you are performing the crunch to prevent neck strain. Hold the position for a second and slowly lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat on that one side and then switch sides to perform the side crunch using your other set of oblique muscles. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise.
- Alternate Toe Touches: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with your knees bent and with toes touching the floor. Place your palms behind your head, elbows parallel with the ground and face towards the ceiling. Keeping your right knee bent, lift it while bringing your left arm up and out to touch the right toe. Alternate, bringing your right arm up to touch the left toe. Remember to keep the non-moving leg firmly on the floor. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. If your neck hurts, modify the exercise by holding your head with your hands and lifting it up towards the ceiling for each repetition. Continue to alternate legs.
- Leg Lifts: Start by lying down on your back on an exercise mat or the floor with arms extended alongside the body, palms down. Keep your shoulders, head and lower back flat against the surface. Lift your legs up until they’re at a right angle to your hips. Lower your legs slowly and stop within a few inches above the floor. Hold your legs there for a couple of seconds. Slowly raise your legs back to the starting position and hold for a couple of seconds again. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Also, start the exercise easier by lowering the legs to about a 30-degree angle. Increase the impact of your leg lifts by lowering your feet as close to the floor as possible.
- Super Mans: Lie facedown on an exercise mat or the floor. Keep your legs together and straight, with your arms straight and extended above your head. Keep your head and neck in a neutral position. Keeping your limbs straight (but not locked) and your torso stationary, lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling at the same time to form a gentle curve with your body. You should literally feel like Super Man flying through the air. Hold for a slow 30 counts. Remember: don’t hold your breath! Try to keep breathing steady and even. If you need to make it easier, hold the Super Man position for fewer counts and don’t raise legs and arms quite as high.
- Side Plank: Lie on your side with your right hand on an exercise mat or the floor. If your a beginner, it is recommended to begin this exercise on your elbow. Lift yourself up to form a “plank” with your right arm straight and your left arm on your side. Hold this position for a count of 8-12. If you want to take the Side Plank to the next level, take your left hand and extend it to the ceiling. You might find it easier to hold your balance by turning your head to gaze at your left hand. Repeat with the other side. Remember to keep your body in a straight line, tightening your abs and butt muscles. No hunching forward! That’s cheating! It’s a good idea to start in front of a mirror to learn the technique. Remember to breathe! Try to keep breathing steady and even throughout the entire exercise.
Keep up this fitness routine and you’ll have a washboard in no time.
The position of a base on a
cheerleading squad is exactly what it sounds like: they are literally the foundation for the team. You can’t build a pyramid without a strong foundation and the same saying goes for a cheerleading team who’s goal is to perform stunts that are solid. Bases not only need to know proper stunting techniques but they also need to condition appropriately to be able to handle the physical strain of lifting another person. Bases need a full body fitness plan, that builds muscle and stamina, to make it through a routine with lifts. For a cheerleading base to be successful, it is mandatory that they have strong legs to minimize weight and pressure on the back, toned arms for lifts and twists, and of course a strong core with toned back supporting muscles.
It’s very important for the base to lift with the legs to prevent any back strain or other very serious injury. Can I just stress one more time how important this is? Don’t ever lift with your back! Building up the strength in your legs and hips will become one of your main lifelines for basing. I know this may come as a surprise to a lot of novice cheerleaders who think its all about the arms, but I know some of the more experienced bases and coaches are nodding vigorously in agreement right now. Below is a compiled list of exercises that will build up your legs for more controlled basing. Remember to properly warm up and stretch before performing any of these exercises.
- Exercise Bike: A great way to warm up, combine cardio, endurance and solid muscle strength for your legs is the exercise bike. You can control the resistance depending on your skill level.
- Lunges: Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Place your right leg a step ahead and bend your right knee. Remember to keep your back straight while you lower your body until your left knee touches the ground. Finally bring your legs together and repeat the exercise by alternating legs. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge.
- Calf Raises: Stand in an upright position and, keeping your body straight, rise up onto the balls of your toes. Then lower yourself back down until your feet are flat. The key to success in this exercise is to execute it slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge.
- Squats: Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Slowly lower your body until your butt is in line with your knees (knees at 90 degree angles). If you can’t go down that low, go as low as you can. You might also find it helpful to extend your arms straight out in front of you for balance. As you are lowering, make sure your knees are behind your toes. While keeping your weight in your heels, slowly push your body back to starting position. Make sure not to lock your knees when you reach the top of the starting position. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. You can add dumbbells once you’re ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge.
- Leg Presses: Leg presses are done on a machine at the gym. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Sit down, grasp the side handles and push away from the platform. Remember to engage you abdominals to get a full body work out and decrease risk of injury. As you push the platform, slowly extend your legs until they are almost straight (you DO NOT want to extend your legs fully as this will cause damage to your knees). Then reverse the motion and bring the platform back to the starting position slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Please remember that it’s not about how much or how fast you can press. You want to complete these with slow motion repetition goals verses weight goals. You will build better endurance, reduce risk of injury and build solid lean muscle verses muscle that is bulky.
- Lying Leg Curl: Leg curls are another machine based exercise. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Lie face down on the leg curl machine, place the pads behind your ankles and slowly raise the pads until they touch the back of your thighs. Then slowly return the pads back to the starting position. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. Again, I want to stress how important it is to do higher repetitions verses the weight rather than the other way around.
- Leg Extensions: Yet another machine exercise to do at the gym, this is a great exercise to target the quads. Choose a comfortable weight with which you can do multiple repetitions. Sit on the bench and place the pads on the lower, front part of your shin just above the ankles. Slowly extend your legs straight forward, with your knees straight. Once they are fully extended, squeeze your quad muscles and then lower your legs back down slowly. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. DO NOT use momentum to help you lift the weights. This will cause serious injury and will not help you build muscle. If you feel that you are doing this because the exercise is too hard, simply lower the weight. Again, this exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions.
If you’re a coach, a parent or even a fellow cheerleader, who wants to see their flyers really push the barriers in stunting, check out all of the past articles for cheerleading flyers.
Cheer camp is a big deal for cheerleaders and squads across the country! Not only is it a great place to improve your skills and learn new stunts and routines, it’s also the perfect setting for bonding with your teammates and getting to know your coach. As a lot of you are prepping for camp (or heading there now!), we focused this month’s poll on camp and whether your not you’ll be attending.
The results are in and we’re happy to see that most cheerleaders said that they were headed to camp this summer! For those who responded that they never go to camp, we hope you can eventually go in the future. Read up on a few of our
camp articles and hand them to your coach as a hint!
Be sure to take part in our
polls every month, and check back for the results!