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How to Become an All Star Cheerleader
Dictionary.com defines a cheerleader as "a person who leads a crowd in formal cheers, esp at sports events" and that does a pretty good job of defining your typical high school cheerleader. All star cheerleaders should have their own definition in dictionaries because they are do much more than lead cheers, and if you have hopes of being an all star competition cheerleader you too must learn to do much more.
All star cheerleaders can not only lead a crowd in cheers, but he or she can dance, flip around in ornate ways, lift another teammate of similar weight above their heads (without dropping him or her) and so much more. To be awarded a spot on a no nonsense competitive cheerleading squad there are minimum skills that need to be mastered in order to make the cut, but with hard work and dedication they are achievable. The major points of this article are to give you the knowledge of how to obtain the following skills; excellent vocal cheers, strong and sharp movements, eyecatching dance abilities, flexibility, stunting, jumps, tumbling and overall performance. If all of these traits are polished and maintained becoming an all star cheerleader will be easily achieved.
You're Not Just Yelling at a Crowd
Reciting cheers and performing them with corresponding motions looks easy, and is, but to be an elite cheerleader your abilities must be above average. A few key points to remember when calling out your cheers;
- yell or chant from your stomach and not your throat. Chanting from your throat can cause damage to your vocal chords and your voice will come out sounding screechy. You also risk losing your voice and this has been devastating to professional cheerleaders when facing tryouts or important events.
- Be sure to have straight arms and legs in all motions with fingers properly placed and toes flexed or pointed when appropriate. Wrists should also be properly aligned with the rest of your forearm for a sharp look. Practice your cheer motions in front of a mirror to perfect them.
- Another great tool; Have a friend or family member tape you performing all of your jumps, cheers, dances and tumbling moves so that you can review it later and determine what corrections are needed. Better yet, have a trusted professional cheerleader or member of a team you're trying out for review the video and give you constructive criticism.
Improving Your Dance and Flexibility
All star cheerleaders are amazing dancers. Most take regular dance lessons or have strong dancing backgrounds. If you are considering trying out for an all star cheerleading team and do not have a dance background it is highly recommended that you take lessons. Taking ballet, hip hop or jazz classes would greatly improve the dancing skill sets you will use in cheerleading. Another key skill an all star cheerleader must poses is immense flexibility. Being flexible is important to your dancing abilities as well as your jumps, and tumbling! To increase flexibility you should stretch regularly, minimum twice a day is recommended. Incorporating Yoga or Pilates into your daily life is a fun way to improve flexibility and stay in shape. Being in great physical shape is essential. Although most competitive routines are less than 5 minutes long those five minutes are full intensity cardio and you cannot look winded at the end of your routine. It's important to make your difficult routine look like it's easy and effortless.
Athletes lift weights, Cheerleaders lift Athletes
At an all star Cheerleading competition you will see the tallest pyramids, fastest transitions and highest basket tosses. If you're afraid of heights, you should consider building your arm and leg muscles and not signing up to be a flyer. The flyer(s) on a cheerleading team are the girls on the top of the pyramid and the ones soaring through the air. Other members of the team may play a role in a stunt as a base, back spot or front spot. To be a successful all star cheerleader you must know basic stunts such as; basket toss, double down, tick-tock, and the one man. You can find a more complete list of stunts here.
When Your Coach Says Jump, You Better Jump!
In the 60's and 70's, the only jump cheerleaders did were toe touches. What these cheerleaders were doing, is now referred to as an X jump or a spread eagle. In the new millennium all star cheerleaders are expected to know how to do a toe touch, tuck, hurdler, pike, and a herkie. There are even some new age, non traditional jumps making Wikipedia lists such as the double nine, double hook and around the world. To improve your jumps practice them regularly. All star cheerleaders are often required to perform multiple jumps in a row so be sure to practice this skill as well. At high elite levels some squads require the ability to perform a toe touch seamlessly followed by a back tuck or back handspring. Here are some tips to make sure your jumps are at all star level.
- Practice essential jumps daily.
- Practice your jumps in front of a mirror or have them recorded to ensure you are pointing your toes and your arms are aligned properly
- Don't lean forward. Some cheerleaders can seriously injure themselves by not properly aligning their backs.
- Keep your stomach muscles tight when performing jump skills to avoid injury.
- Practice kicks and jumps with light ankle weights (always use caution and don't use too heavy of a weight to avoid injury).
Flip and Tumble, But Don't You Stumble!
Tumbling is a crucial part of being a member on an all star or elite cheerleading team. Most elite teams require at minimum a back handspring and back tuck. More competitive teams require a Layout or Full. The amount of skill you have in tumbling will determine what level team you are right for. If your idea of tumbling is a Cartwheel, then run don't walk to your nearest gymnastics gym and sign up for a few classes.There are dozens of self help articles on tumbling but unless you have a trained professional with you do not u try any gymnastics tricks at home. If you can't afford gymnastics lessons then start building your upper body strength and work on obtaining a perfect handstand. Start by using a wall for support and as you gain muscle in your arms move to a freestanding handstand. Some teams are willing to train those who show potential. If you can do a back handspring or even a back tuck keep pushing yourself to do Fulls or Layouts, the more tricks you can correctly perform the greater your chances of qualifying for your choice of an all star cheerleading team.
Cheer Outfits for You and Your Pet
Do you know your vowels?
Being a good cheerleader means being a great performer. At a typical cheerleading competition you are highly judged on your overall performance. Cheerleaders often refer to the excited smiles and kisses they blow to the crowd as "facials". A good way to keep your performance up and smile on without distracting yourself too much is to recite vowels! Simply mouthing A-E-I-O-U will give great natural looking facials. Performance and facials should be practiced often in front of a mirror to make sure you look natural and like your having the best time! A trick that some cheerleaders use, and may be outdated, is applying petroleum jelly to their teeth just before performing or auditioning. The horrible taste forces the wearer to keep smiling to avoid getting any of the jelly on their lips or tongue. Be sure to always look at the judges, and if this terrifies you to no end, you can look just above their heads for the same effect. In large competition venues you won't be able to see much of the crowd because of bright lighting just remember to keep your head up and a smile on your face.
In conclusion, being an All Star Cheerleader means a lot of hard work and dedication. So if after reading this your still up for the challenge; put on a big smile, adorn your ponytail with an over sized bow and start tumbling, jumping and stunting your way to the top of the pyramid.