Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Improve your Toe Touch

Do you have what it takes to have the perfect toe touch? Do you want to improve your jumps and flexibility? Do you want to impress the judges during tryouts? Then this article is for you!
Having a clean and presentable jump is an essential part of cheerleading. You want the entire crowd to look at you and think wow, she has an awesome jump! Here are some crucial tips to perfecting your jumps and improving your flexibility:
1. Stretch Everyday! Go through a stretching routine that you have learned either at your squads practice or at a dance class. If your a beginner than their are countless stretches displayed all over the internet. I recommend stretching for at least 20 minutes a day, doing the same routine so as not to leave anything out.
2. Leg lifts, leg lifts, leg lifts! If you are a veteran cheerleader, than you know exactly what I am talking about. For the newbies: sit in a straddle on the floor as widely as possible. Rotate your feet so that your toes point behind you. Lift your right leg up off the ground using your heel and stomach muscles. Repeat 15 times not allowing your foot to touch the ground. Do the same for your left leg and then both legs. Repeat this everyday!
3. V-Ups! V-ups not only work your ab muscles but they also strengthen your core, and most importantly your legs! Lay flat on the ground with your legs and feet together and your arms above your ears. Crunching up have your arms and legs meet in the middle, imagine fold in half like a taco. Once you hit the middle you want your arms in a T position and your legs in a straddle or "V" position. Repeat 20 times not allowing your arms or feet to touch the ground. Do this everyday!
4. Clean and Proper Positioning! No matter how high your jump is, it is essential to have the proper form in a jump. For the sake of this article and because it is the most used jump, we will use the toe touch as an example. The best way to do a toe touch is to counts. For the newbies this is an 8-count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and repeat. You usually count the counts to a beat in your head. Clap 1 hold 2, high V 3 hold 4, Circle your arms from the high V down crossing at your knees on 5, Jump on 6, land with your feet together, arms straight by your sides with fists, knees bent on 7 hold 8, and for an added effect hit hands on hips on 1.
Now that we have covered the basics of the counts for the jump, let's move on to how it should look. Each time you hit a position you want it to be on that exact count. Don't move before the count and don't move on the holds. You want your arm positions to be straight and sharp using all of your energy and muscles. As you hit the jump on 6, you want your arms to hit a T on 6 as well (for the toe touch). Do not bring your arms to your legs, let your legs come up to your arms! This is extremely important and a misconception. A lot of cheerleaders think that if they reach for their toes the jump is higher. Not true! All this does is make you feel as though it is higher when in actuality it is the same. Chest should be up and your back should be straight at all times. Don't bend over towards your toes. Last but not least, SMILE!
Doing these stretches, muscle strengthening, and practicing your jumps everyday will not only make you more confident in your jumps, but also improve your jumps tremendously!
Amy Johnsen

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