Jumps are a big part of what we do as cheerleaders to help create excitement on the sidelines. Increasing our flexibility, strength and power, while also perfecting our jump technique, will help us improve our various jumps and keep the crowd entertained.
Straddle stretch: The basic straddle stretch can easily be done at home or practice. Sit with your legs straight out as wide as you can and point your toes. Reach forward with your arms keeping your back straight and abs tight as far as you can and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Also, reach to the right and left legs holding 20-30 seconds 3-5 times. You can put your feet together in a pike and stretch forward the same way.
Straddle hold: Position yourself in the same seated straddle but put each foot up to the wall. Move your body as close to the wall as possible keeping your legs straight. Once you are as far as you can go, hold there for 1 minute. Rest and repeat 2 more times.
Kicks: Standing kicks are a great way to increase the quick stretch needed for your legs to get up and snap back down in a jump. Stand upright with your arms in a high V motion. Keeping your upper boy in place by squeezing your arms and legs, kick your right leg up to meet your right fist ten times. Repeat this movement for your left leg ten times. Do 3 sets of ten on each leg.
Hip openers: Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, squat down until you thighs are parallel with the group and put your hands on your knees with your arms straight. Make sure your knees and toes are pointing toward the diagonal in front of you. Move your right shoulder down and forward pushing your right knee back. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then, do the same things slightly dropping your left shoulder and pushing your left knee back. Repeat each side a total of 3 times.
Squat jumps: Standing with your feet under your hips, about shoulder width apart, bend down as if you are sitting into a chair. When your upper leg is parallel with the ground, spring up jumping as high as you can and land with your knees slightly bent. Once you master the move, try connecting 10 squat jumps in a row. Do 3 sets of 10.
Standing leg lifts: Facing a wall or holding on the back of a chair, alternating raising each leg, keeping it straight and pointing your toes, up passed hip level. Do 3 sets of 12-15 on each side.
Seated leg lifts: Sitting in a straddle, lean back slightly and put both hands on the floor in front of you for balance. At the same time, lift both legs about 8 inches off the floor. Without letting your heels touch the ground, lower and raise your legs 15 times. Do 3 sets. These can be performed with ankle weights once the movement is mastered.
T-jumps: An important part of each jump that we sometimes overlook is the upper body. We can actually increase the height of our jumps with correct upper body technique. Try performing T-jumps and concentrate on pulling your shoulders up and forcefully stopping your arms at the T motion at the height of the jump.
Seated toe touch: Lay flat on your back, feet together and arms in daggers. Using your core, bring your upper body up while bringing your toes up and out hitting a “seated toe touch” position. Slowly lower yourself back down. Concentrate on keeping your legs straight and toes pointed. Do 3 sets of 12 of this exercise.