Skills and Drills – Jumps

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Want to take your jumps to new heights? We have the recipe for success: two parts practice, four parts technique, six parts stretching, and eight parts exercises.

Wait . . . exercises?! Here’s the deal. Some people have natural flexibility and strength. Others need to work at it. Just as body builders need to lift weights to maintain bulk, cheerleaders need special exercises to execute decent jumps.

Leg Explosions: This exercise helps with height and leg strength. Start with your feet together. Take a slow dip so until your knees reach a ninety-degree angle. Explode into the air without using your arms. As you land, absorb gently absorb back into your starting position. Start with three sets of five controlled jumps and work up to executing fifteen in a row.

Sitting Toe Touches: This exercise isolates the hip flexor and abdominal muscles that lift legs into the jump position. Start by sitting on the floor in a tuck position.  Balanced with your feet slightly off the floor and your arms in “daggers”. Quickly lift your legs and arms to all the way to the toe touch position. Once you’ve hit it, snap back to your starting position as quickly as possible. It may take a few tries to find your balance. Once you get the hang of it, focus on keeping your toes pointed, your legs straight, and your back upright. Again, start with three sets of five and work up to fifteen reps in a row.

Straddle Lifts: This exercise also isolates the hip flexors. Start on the floor in a straddle position. Place your hands on the floor in between your knees. Lift one leg a two inches off of the floor for a count of two and then set it back down. Keep your leg straight and your toe pointed. Repeat with the other leg. Do these five times (approximately 10 seconds on each leg). Work up to holding each leg twice for a count of five, and then once for a count of ten. Eventually, you may lift both legs at once.

Jump Conditioning Drills: This advanced jump drill helps with strength, stamina and muscle memory. Before you start the drill, make sure your team has good technique. Because this drill is based on repetition, its important to tackle technique first (repeating jumps with poor technique is counterproductive). C

All you need is some fast-paced cheer music and someone to count. The team should execute the 8-count as follows:

High V
Hold
Start Jump
Hit Jump
Land Jump
Hold
Stand
Hold

Using that as your basic count, go through the following set of jumps:

Five T jumps
Five tuck jumps
Five left hurdlers
Five right hurdlers
Rest for 3 sets
Five pikes
Five toe touches
Ten toe touches
Five toe touches
Five pikes
Five right hurdlers
Five left hurdlers
Rest for 3 sets
Five tuck jumps
Five T jumps

That’s 70 jumps! You can usually complete this drill in six to seven minutes. Feel free to mix up the sequence of the jumps according to team needs.

No matter which method you use to improve your jumps, be patient! It can take a several weeks to see results. Over-exercising can lead to injury, so make sure to respect your body and its limits.

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