Step up your cheer skills
Improve your outlook
Whether you’re a rookie or the team captain, put last year behind you. Take time to get to know this year’s squad—there might be lotsa fresh faces—and to practice some new skills—the latest routines, cheers and chants. “Be open to change,” says Misty Hodges, a coach for the 2012 USA All-Girl Team. “It takes time to learn the ropes.”
Show off better facials
Cheering is all about getting the crowd pumped, whether you’re rooting on your school’s basketball team or competing in regionals. So, um, you’ve got to look like you’re having a blast. But between all the mental gymnastics (5, 6, 7, 8…where the heck am I supposed to be now?) and the super-physical stunting, it can be tough to look like you’re genuinely stoked. So rehearse your game face in the mirror before brushing your teeth. Your smile will be bigger, and you’ll perfect that ’tude-filled head toss. Wink!
Get higher jumps
“Flexibility will allow one to improve the height of her jumps,” Coach Hodges clues us in. Make some time in your schedule for a stretch sesh. Feeling crunched for time? We won’t tell anyone if you limber up in front of the tube. When asked how she gets her jumps sky-high, Samantha, 14, whose rec squad won major competitions last year, says, “I stretch every day to stay flexible, which really helps. Leg lifts help, too.”
Make your motions knife-sharp
If your coach has told ya once, she’s hollered it 100 times: Keep those arms rigid! It’s time to grab a pair of free weights for curls, or drop and do some push-ups. The more toned your arms are, the easier it’ll be to make those high V’s sharp. Make it a point to really practice them—don’t just mock the motions when you’re rehearsing a cheer. Going full-out will help you be more prepared come competition time.
Roll with it
If you really want to impress the masses, kick your tumbling skills up a few notches. Your round-off might have cut it in the past, but now the team is attempting to stick back handsprings. “Always learn the proper technique before moving on to more difficult skills,” Coach Hodges reminds us.
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