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. Question #1: Can uniforms be mixed and matched in color – like a purple shell and a black skirt – and still look nice? – anonymous While it is more common for cheer squads to go the classic route of matching their uniform skirts and shell tops, there is no reason that your squad can’t break the mold and mix things up! As long as you stick to uniform pieces that having matching lines and taping, you should be able to pair a black bottom with a colored top. This is definitely becoming more common with warmup pieces too, so going with that theme across the board will help streamline the overall look of your squad. I say, take the chance and give your school something to talk about! Question #2: How often a week should I be stretching and for how long? – Meg, cheerleader To really prepare yourself for the demands of cheerleading, you need to be stretching as much as possible. If you can stretch every day, you’ll get the best results! Stretching should be a part of your routine that gets a lot of attention – at least a half hour should be dedicated to stretching before your practice or work out, and a few minutes should be spent stretching out your muscles afterward too. Be persistent and don’t give up! Remember that while stretching, don’t push your muscles too hard and don’t bounce. Learn more about stretching and strength training in our free guide, available here. Question #3: What are some tips on being a better flyer?? – Meg, cheerleader Here are a few tips for flyers, from our Introduction to Stunt Groups guide, which you can download for free here. During your stunts, keep your hips and thighs stable and never jolt your legs. This will help you maintain your own weight and control your movements. During each stunt, stand up as fast as possible, stay tight, and keep those legs straight and knees locked! Stay stiff and trust that your bases will keep you from wiggling. Don’t try to balance yourself. You may overcorrect and cause injury to you and your team. The bases will balance you and you’ll need to trust them. If the ball of your foot is lower than the rest of your foot during your stunt, lift your big toe and the front of your foot will follow. If your heel is heavy and your toes are higher than the rest of your foot, curl your toes or push them downward to level your feet. You want to keep your feet as flat as possible and provide your bases with a platform that’s easy to work with. If you roll your ankles when in the air, you need to spend extra time strengthening them. As you work on strengthening your ankles, you can curl your toes under while in the air. Also, your back spotters should have a firm grip on your ankles. If you collapse at the top of your stunt, it might be because you are not locking your legs soon enough. Work on locking your legs after push off and make sure your butt isn’t below your knees during loading into the stunt. If you’re just not able to hit the stunt at all, have your coach and backs spotters time your groups on the lift and work on hitting you times in unison. Practice counting and mimicking the motions on the floor before actually putting it in the air. If you don’t feel balanced once your up and you’ve tried all of the above, it could be the way the bases are holding your feet. Have your coach and back spotters make sure both feet are being held at the same level and the bases are actually making a platform with their hands. Do not look down. The audiences eyes are going to be on the flyer, and the flyer needs to be looking right back out at them – with a great big smile on her face!