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Before taking part in any cheerleading activities, be sure to go through a warm up and stretching out routine.  This is to prevent injury to the muscles.  The warm up should contain an aerobic activity to get the muscles warm.  The stretching routine should incorporate head to toe stretches.

Warm Up!

     run.gif (4991 bytes) To warm up the muscles try things like jogging around the gym a few times. If you do not have access to a gym, jog in a place you know will be safe. There are many rocks, and tree branches outdoors, be sure to stay clear of them.  Also, this is a warm up, and NOT a race.  Do not speed run, or race the other members of your squad.
     Another way to warm up is through aerobics.  Put on some music and start moving! If you are a coach, here is a tip!  Do aerobics with your girls, this will help their coordination. Also, this will help them learn how to find the beats in the music. Have the girls count to the beat! (this tip is especially great for youth squads)
     If you or your squad is more advanced you may want to combine the warm-ups.  Do some low impact aerobics, jog around the gym, back to aerobics, working back down to low impact.  Just remember this is a warm up, do not overdue it. Once warmed up, you can start the stretch out!

Stretch Out!

Stretching out is a vital part of cheerleading.   It makes you flexible, and prevents muscle injury. Stretching should occur before doing any type of cheerleading activity. This includes motions, stunting or doing jumps.   Without stretching the activity will not be done to your full potential!

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Be sure to stretch from head to toe!  For example, when practicing jumps do not neglect your head and arms. You use your whole body in jumps. Be sure to remember this every time you stretch out.

Extra!

    It is very important that cheerleaders be flexible. This means taking the extra time daily to stretch out.  Try stretching out when watching T.V, or even sitting by the pool! Take the time to stretch out all the muscles. Hold the stretches for 15-30 seconds each.  Repeat all stretches at least twice. Also, practice splits daily.  Hold the split position for 30 seconds to a minute, then switch.  Repeat each side two to three times.  You will find that as your muscles become more stretched, it will be easier to split. Warning: Do not stretch to the point it hurts. You should only go far enough to feel a slight pull!  
  
     Strength is also a very important part of being a cheerleader.   All cheerleaders need strength to increase their performance.  Flyers need strength in stunting to hold their own weight, as well as push off the bases. 


PUSH-UP.JPG (1333 bytes) Push-ups are a
great way to increase arm strength.  Try doing the modified push-ups at first.   Build up to the non modified as strength increases.  If already strong enough, start with the non modified.  Increase the sets, and number of push-ups in each set as strength increases.


 Lifting small weights can also increase arm strength. These can be done at home, which is very convenient. Weight training with larger weights can beweights.gif (3421 bytes) done in the school weight room, or a gym club. Warning: Do not start any weight training program without learning the proper technique. It is best to get the advice from a weight trainer.


 Crunches are a great way to increase stomach strength.  By doing crunches sit-up.gif (19388 bytes)the abs will become stronger.  This will help in many cheerleading activities from stunting to jumping.   Increase the sets, and amount of crunches in each set as you develop strength.  

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