Saturday, January 21, 2012

How are Cheerleaders Trained?

Cheerleading is a highly athletic activity. The stunts, tumbling and jumps required in cheerleading require hours of training and practice. Training tools can help you get more out of your training time by enforcing proper form, applying resistance and challenging your balance. While these training tools can be used at home, never perform any stunts or tumbling elements without the supervision of a qualified cheerleading coach.
Wobble Cushion
Balance is critical to cheerleaders. From the bases at the bottom of a stunt trying to steady it to the top person striving to perch in her precarious position at the top of it, balance keeps a stunt up. A wobble cushion is a training tool that can help you improve your balance. It resembles a flattened stability ball. When you stand on it, the instability of the wobble cushion forces you to recover and balance. For cheerleading, you can stand on it with both feet, but it is especially effective for training 1-foot poses. Stand on the wobble cushion and lift your free foot up into a liberty pose with your knee pointing forward and your foot pointed and next to the knee of your standing leg. Balance in this position, training on the other leg too.
Stunt Strap
Cheerleading requires extensive flexibility. Poses like a heel stretch, scorpion and scale require flexible legs, back and shoulders. A stunt strap is a training tool that will increase your flexibility for these poses. It is a nylon strap with loops on each end. By placing your foot in one loop and grabbing the other loop with your hand, you can simulate stunt poses you are not yet flexible enough to execute. For example, standing on one foot, place your free foot in a loop and bend it behind your back. Grab the other loop above your head, pulling your foot up toward your head, into a scorpion position. Eventually, you should work on holding the hand loop of the stunt strap in your opposite hand because when you achieve a scorpion, that is the hand that holds your foot.
Full-Up Machine
Many stunts and tumbling skills require a cheerleader to execute twisting motions. Keeping a hollow body position with your abdominal muscles pulled is key to twisting. The Full-Up Machine is a product that can help you learn to twist. A cheerleader stands on the thick cushion that is on top of the spinning device. Stepping on the Full-Up Pedal activates the spinning. Stand tall with your abs pulled in toward your spine as you execute a full twist.
A common tumbling error is allowing your legs to separate during a back handspring or a back tuck. To perfect proper form, a DeFrogger might help. It is a pair of padded ankle straps that hold the cheerleaders ankles together. Velcro makes them adjustable for different size ankles. Using this training tool at practice helps a cheerleader train her muscles to keep her feet together when performing a back handspring or a back tuck.

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