Exercises and stretches are essential for any cheerleader. These aspects of physical conditioning are beneficial to athletes in numerous ways, because they improve coordination, confidence and strength and prevent injury. While performing exercises or stretches, it is crucial to maintain proper technique.
Flexibility with Friends
To gain flexibility, a cheerleader should partake in partner stretching. An example of a partner stretch is the scorpion stretch. To do this, one partner lies chest down with their arms extended out at their shoulders, hips turned to the side, one leg out diagonally and the other leg lifted up and bent at the knee. The partner pushes up on the knee and the ankle, pushing the foot toward the head to stretch out the calf muscle for no more than 30 seconds. Repeat for the other leg. Stretches should be repeated three or more times. Remember to take deep breaths while stretching to prevent injury.
Ready for Takeoff
Jumping exercises increase your heart rate, build leg muscles and improve balance. They include basic movements such as X-jumps, where you perform powerful jumping jacks but use more lift to actually jump up while lifting up your arms, or advanced exercises such as toe touches or pike jumps. For additional jumping practice, jump rope exercises are an effective cardiovascular workout. Regardless of the jumps you perform, aim to do three sets of five jumps.
Feel the Burn
Squats are a valuable exercise, especially for cheerleaders who are bases. Squats improve leg strength as well as posture. While performing squats, remember to keep your back straight and your core tight. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, look directly in front of you and press your hips back. Lower yourself down, keeping your knees at a 90-degree angle and dipping as far down as you can without your knees going over your ankles. Keep all of your weight on your heels to maintain balance. Repeat this exercise at least 12 times.
Upside Down Exercises
Tumbling is a prevalent exercise in most cheerleading routines, whether it is as simple as a cartwheel or as advanced as a roundoff back handspring. One exercise to perfect tumbling skills is practicing handstands against a wall. Start off by doing a lunge with your fingers and toes pointed toward the wall. Place your hands approximately six inches away from the wall. Push down against one leg while kicking up your other leg. Before your other leg makes it all the way to the wall, kick up your second leg. Do at least five handstands. When tumbling, don't push yourself too hard and always have a spotter for your safety.