Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Cheerleading has evolved into a competitive sport so quickly that most of the industry in the past 15 years has had to deal with the demand of the growth. It has become easy to focus on what we can see with the naked eye, forgetting what lies beneath.
The 10 things to transform your cheer skills are:
1) YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, ESPECIALLY AROUND COMPETITION
Our no. 1 nutrition tip is… Whole foods! What you put in directly affects your output. A car can’t run without the correct fuel. The right amounts of complex carbs, protein and good fats are all necessary for either fuelling or recovering your muscles around exercise. Learning what to eat, and when, will transform what you’re able to put out at training, and at competitions.
2) STRETCH EVER DAY TO IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY
Stretching three times a week might be enough to maintain your current flexibility, but you’ll never see any gain in flexibility without stretching every day. Trained correctly, flexibility can not only improve skills, but safety. See our flexibility blog for more tips.
3) FORGET "NO PAIN, NO GAIN"
“The idea of no pain, no gain gained popularity a few years back and is the furthest from the truth. Maybe a little soreness, yes, but pain is not a requirement for a sport. It is a consequence of ignorance in the area of preparing our body for athleticism.” – Debbie
4) TRAIN YOUR BODY UPSIDE DOWN.
Inversions such as headstands are one of the most useful things in a cheerleader’s body-training toolkit. As well as getting your mind used to being upside down, they’re a hugely effective way to train the inner core muscles that are so necessary for cheer skills (see point 5 below).
5) TRAIN YOUR CORE, NOT JUST YOUR ABS.
Talking of those inner core muscles, the psoas and TVA muscles are vital in cheerleading, and are often forgotten about. The abdominal muscles that can sometimes be seen on the surface are less important for skills than those unseen inner core muscles that connect everything together. Get to those headstands, then!
6) GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET
“The mental aspect of cheerleading is more important than the physical in that it comprises 90% of what we do. Most of us never train this area. We need to learn how to have more of a growth mindset, which in short is understanding that obstacles are stepping-stones to success. We need to learn to use positive self-talk instead of always criticizing ourselves.” – Debbie Love
7) STRENGTHEN YOUR JOINTS AS WELL AS YOUR MUSCLES
Working on flexibility without counter-work on joint strength will push tendons and ligaments beyond their limits, leading to strains and sprains. Improving joint strength through targeted conditioning will drastically reduce how likely you are to injure yourself.
8) KNOWING YOUR BODY TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR SKILLS
“In the past few years we have found the need for assessment of athletes and pre-participation physicals as well as learning that we need to train not only stabilization of the core when we are still but maintaining the integrity of the core while our center of gravity is moving through the air as in tumbling, stunting, pyramids and basket tosses.” – Debbie
9) TRAIN CORRECT MUSCLE MEMORY
No ‘marking through’, ever! Walking a routine or skill set with bent arms, bad form and lack of effort will become muscle memory. That will inevitably lead to missed skills, incorrect technique and lack of energy on the performance floor. Build positive muscle memory, and make even walkthroughs precise. Maintain technique and posture even when mimicking a skill.
10) FOCUS ON POWER AND SPEED, NOT FLEXIBILITY
Stretching correctly for flexibility is vital (see point two) but let’s take jumps, for example. Often, people think that flexibility alone equals hyperextended toe-touches. That’s incorrect. Speed and explosiveness are more important here. The whole body is needed, including inner core strength, leg speed, explosiveness of the jump etc. Those things make the overall picture. One element of training, like flexibility, is no use in isolation.
“The results of training the whole body of the athlete will be forever. They will be strong adults physically and mentally who can deal with the punches life throws in their path. They will be healthier both inwardly and outwardly by learning proper nutritional and workout guidelines.
I wholeheartedly endorse the INTENSITY program as well as the creators of it and encourage all coaches to take this course and become the best you can be. If your passion is to become the best coach you can be this is a must for your library. Please join me in my crusade to motivate athletes internally in a positive environment to become better athletes and people of high character and integrity.” – Debbie Love