Your primary role as a cheerleader is to keep your crowd interested and spirited-and nothing is more eye-catching than a well-executed jump. Any advanced cheerleader will tell you that performing good jumps is one of the most important abilities a cheerleader should possess.
Jumps are used continuously thorughout games because they are exciting to watch, can be executed quickly in a limited space, and look difficult to the ordinary sports spectator. Since they are impressive and interesting to watch, they will do much to gain the respect of your crowd. In addition, the spirit and enthusiasm they represent will help establish a line of communication between you and your crowd. Jumps can be used in any of the following game situations:
1. before, during, or after cheer and chants
2. as part of a fight song or dance routine
3. during player introductions
4. following exciting plays
5. in combination with gymnastic tricks
Jumps should never be used in negative situations, such as opposing players fouling out or being inujured.
You should use a variety of jumps thoughout a game, as they are used more often than any other cheerleading skills. In addition to the standard jumps, emphasis should be placed on the use of combination jumps and unique jumps or arm positions, as they are especially effective in gaining your crowd’s attention.
A great deal of energy and skill is needed for jumping, so proper preparation is a must. Although some people have natural jumping ability, more often than not, the skill has to be learned and practiced regulary. Before you can even begin practicing the different types of jumps, you must be thoroughly warmed up. Start with the basic exercises.
1. Stand in place and jump straight up and down ten times. Next, do the same ten jumps on your right leg, then on your left leg. Continue this exercise, decreasing each time the number of times you jump on each foot (10, then 9, then 8, etc. ). Remember to flex your knees as you land and rebound.
2) Practice kicking as high as possible, keeping your legs and back straight. Start with low to medium kicks and work up to your highest. Remember as you are doing this exercise to point your toes and keep your chin up.
3) Stand behind a chair and hold on to the top of it. As you hold, bend your knees, press down, and jump off the floor, spreading your legs as far part as possible. This exercise can also be done with a partner-who takes the place of the chair by bending at the waist and grasping her knees-and is particulary good for helping you extend on the spread eagle, split, and herkie jumps.
4) Practice your approach for both single and combination jumps by doing a “pyramid” of straight jumps. Begin with a single straight jump, then a double, a triple…up to ten. Then reverse the order going to 9, 8, 7.. back down to a single jump. Emphasize use of the arms and correct timing of arms and legs.
These exercises will limber you up and prepare you for more advanced jumps. Work on them consistently, as they will firm your leg muscles, improve your spring, develop good coordination of arms and legs, and make your kicks straighter and higher.
Proper execution of a jump includes good height and correcto form. Both aspects of jumping should be practiced separately before beginning actualy jumps.
Correct form is the result of proper arm and leg position during a jump. The positioning of the body can be learned most easily by assuming the final jump position on the ground.