Cheerleading Blog’s 2013 initiatives have been designed to be fun and interactive for our readers! We’ve kept an eye on the cheerleading industry for a while now, and the one thing that is always constant is that people have questions about cheerleading…so we’re going to answer them! Each month, our editors will answer a few questions that have been submitted by our readers. Here’s the first round – hope these help! Question #1: “What are some ways to overcome fear of tumbling (my handsprings) and fear of flying?” – Meg, cheerleader Hi Meg, As a former gymnast, this question hits close to home! I spent a lot of time standing, prepping, setting…and then backing out of my back handspring because of my fear! The truth is, understanding that there are risks is so important because it will keep you from being reckless, but letting fear rule you will put you in more danger. During a handspring, your neck and head are exposed and vulnerable. You need to be confident when you go into that flip! One time my arms collapsed during a handspring and I landed on my head. Luckily, I was not seriously injured but I was shaken up! Here are some tips to help you work on your tumbling. These tips can be applied to your flying training too: Take it to a professional. This may sound too simple, but finding a gym and working with someone who has experience helping tumblers overcome fear is the best solution. They will have all of the equipment you need, and a safety first mentality. How much better can that get? Except for the fact that it will cost money and you have to live in an area that provides these services. Which brings me to my next tip… Start small. Start your back handsprings with a spotter. Then take it to a trampoline. Once you build your confidence up, transition to a tumbling track, then a spring floor and then to a regular floor. It’s all about taking baby steps. You can’t learn to run before walking. Be your own movie star! Bring a camcorder with you to practice and have someone video tape you performing a back handspring. If you mess up, delete that footage and keep the footage of you performing it correctly. This way you can bring it home and watch yourself perform it over and over again. It’s a reminder that you can do this! Once you’ve memorized yourself performing your back handspring, continue to replay it over and over in your mind before practice or actually performing the maneuver. Practice makes perfect. Do not forget to maintain good technique throughout the entire process of overcoming your fear. Many tumblers who are fear-driven tend to start looking over their shoulders or tossing their heads back. This is the worst thing you can do! It misaligns the body and exposes weak areas of the body to injury. Keep your arms positioned tightly against your ears so you can’t even tempt yourself! Knowing that you are performing a back handspring as safely as possible gives mental peace and can help ease the fear. Follow the leader. Another fun way to overcome fear is to watch others overcome fear. Find fellow team mates who share the same fear and overcome it together. You can build a tight friendship and be each others support system. Good luck! Jessica Question #2: “When competing in a competition and using poms, how far do you need to get rid of the poms when you are finished with them? Is there a rule that poms need to be off the mats when not using them?” – Alina, coach Hi Alina, Unfortunately, each cheerleading competition is different and will have individual regulations. Since cheerleading is not a sanctioned sport, there are no overall general guidelines that apply to events. For safety reasons, it is best to have your squad completely remove their pom poms from the active performance area when they are not in use. The same goes for any signage or other accessories that are used (like megaphones). Jessica Question #3: “How can we insure the best fit for our girls and still get them in and out of the fitting in a reasonable amount of time?” – Anonymous The best option is to work directly with the cheerleading apparel company that you are ordering from. Most companies will offer you options like free fit kits or will have a local rep come in an measure based on their sizing. Another option is to pass out a form (and maybe a measuring tape) to the girls and their parents ahead of time. Include instructions on how to properly measure, and have them complete the form and bring it with them to the fitting. There may be a lot of room for error with that option, so you may want to consider asking local seamstresses to volunteer their time so you have more resources available for the measuring and fittings. Amanda Don’t see your question this month, or want to submit a question? We’ll do a new “answers’ post every month so send your questions to email@example.com now!