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Do You Know the 3 Pillars of Cheerleading?

Here’s a helpful article I found that gives a basic workout format to prepare for cheer. It outlines the 3 pillars of cheerleading: Strength, Flexibility, and Technique. I put my notes in blue but for the most part, this is a solid starting point for coaches or cheerleaders looking to get more consistent form and technique.

Author: Sunni Schulz Pieschala
Originally Published on: July 31, 2003

Cheerleading is a unique activity because it requires its participants to do so many different activities: jumping, stunting, yelling, dancing and tumbling. There are so many things you need to learn in order to be a good cheerleader that sometimes it can be overwhelming to the newcomer.

Many cheerleaders and prospective cheerleaders want to know how to improve their jumps, stunts and tumbling. Whether you want to bring your legs up higher in a toe touch or learn how to do a full twisting cradle from an elevator, there are always three things that you need in order to succeed. Imagine it like an elevator stunt, you need two bases and a spot in order to stand. If you have only one base or you don’t have a spotter you can try the elevator but it just isn’t going to work very well and you are likely to fall!

 

The three pillars of tumbling/stunting/jumping are strength, flexibility and technique. Think of strength and flexibility as the two bases and technique as the back spot in an elevator stunt. You absolutely have to have strength and flexibility to make some things work but sometimes you can get by on poor technique (just like you can do an elevator without a back spot) but you are more likely to get hurt and you won’t be able to advance to harder things (just like you can’t do an elevator extension without a back spot.)

There are no hidden secrets to cheerleading. You can only improve through hard work. There aren’t any tips that a person can give you that will improve your jumps or back handsprings so much that you will suddenly do them perfect. Only by consistently perfecting your technique and increasing your strength and flexibility will you succeed.

Now some of you will notice that there are certain people who seem to be able to perform skills when they only have one of the three pillars. For instance, a person that is super flexible but not strong may be able to bring her legs up high in a toe touch. Or a strong person may be able to throw a back handspring even though she has no back flexibility. There is a funny way all three pillars work together. The more strength and flexibility you have, the less you need to rely on perfect technique. The weaker and more un-flexible you are the more you need perfect technique to perform a skill.

The easiest thing to change is always technique, but it is also the hardest to learn. For example, you don’t need super strong arms and a flexible back to do a back handspring if you have perfect technique.

If you are practicing at home without the aid of a trained coach then you should be working on your strength and flexibility every day so that when you do go under the tutelage of a coach you will learn skills easily and quickly.

It doesn’t take a hard workout to improve your skills. Here is the workout I recommended to my cheer girls. By doing a small workout every day you will see improvements in every skill you do. You can gradually increase the number repetitions when you feel that you can handle more. If you feel like the exercise is hurting too much, you need to stop. Of course you should always discuss any physical activity you are doing with your parent or guardian to make sure you won’t harm your body.

Monday (stomach)

Jog in place 1 minute

Hold each split for 2 minutes Neeley’s note: 2 min. is a bit long, I would work my way up to 2 minutes, starting at 45 sec. for each leg.

Do 5 bridges and rock (pushing your shoulders over your wrists) Neeley’s note: bridges are another word for backbend. Lay on the ground with your hands on teh floor next to your ears, and push yourself up into an arch.

20 tuck ups (lie on your back and bring your legs up in a tuck position while bringing your upper body up. Then straighten. Keep your feet10 inches off the floor between reps)

20 straddle ups (same thing only bring legs up in a straddle)

20 V-ups (same thing except bring your legs up straight)

Tuesday (legs)

Jog in place 1 minute

Hold each split for 2 minutes Neeley’s note: see above for time adjustments

Do 5 bridge rocks

20 frog jumps

20 tuck jumps 20 lunges

Wednesday (jumps)

Jog in place 1 minute

Hold each split for 2 minutes Neeley’s note: see above for time adjustments

Do 5 bridge rocks

20 chair straddle raises (straddle a chair with the back in front of you. Now lift each leg off the ground keeping your knee straight)

40 toe raises, (20 each foot) (Stand on the edge of a stair with your heel hanging off. Now lift your body up an down) Neeley’s note: also known as calf raises, take them slow, don’t rush.

20 kicks (10 each leg) Neeley’s note: keep your chest up when practicing kicks. With arms in a high V, kick and aim for your nose, but only push as high as your flexibility allows. It’s better to practice good form with lower kicks, than bad form with a kick that’s an inch higher.

Thursday (arms & back)

Jog in place 1 minute

Hold each split for 2 minutes Neeley’s Note: see above for time adjustments

Do 5 bridge rocks

20 arch ups (lie on your stomach and lift your arms, head and straight legs off the ground)

20 push-ups

20 V push-ups (Make a V with your body with your hands and feet on the floor and your bottom in the air. Your arms should be by your ears. Now do a pushup.)

Friday (Flexibility)

Jog in place 1 minute

Do 5 bridge rocks

Do over-splits on each leg (put your front leg up on a thick book and hold your splits, relaxing your legs) for 1 minute for each leg Neeley’s note: over-splits stretching should only be done after you’ve surpassed the 2 minute mark on holding your splits and you’re not feeling challenged in a normal split position anymore.

Do wall center splits for 2 minutes. (Lie on your back with your bottom against a wall and your feet up high. Now straddle your legs. Put one hand on each leg and push down slowly while relaxing your legs.) Neeley’s note: I recommend this one as much as 3-5x per week. Let gravity and the weight of your own legs help you stretch (nover let anyone push them down for you)! It’s a great stretch on its own!

By simply performing these exercises every day, you can improve your jumps, tumbling and stunting by making two of the pillars of cheerleading sturdier.



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