Subject: High School Try-Out!
hello there! my high school cheer tryouts are on monday through friday next week. and i just wanted to ask how i can get my jumps higher because right now i can barely get any of them off the ground. i know the stretches and the positions to sit in but none of them have shown any help. and my toe touch’s stink!!!!!!!!!!!! i need to figure out how to twist my legs out when i jump and i just really need help with all my jumps. please (: thanks!
Thanks for writing to us. But every year we get letters like this with cheerleaders wanting to know what they can do in the last week before tryouts to learn a back handspring in a week or build their strength or learn a new skill in a week. Generally, it just can’t be done. You need to start training and getting ready for tryouts way earlier than the week before. Mainly, because you will be competing against people who have been working and training much longer. Hopefully, you have been working out and training for tryouts already.
Normally, I would be telling you about the strength training you could do to increase your vertical jump and what plyometric training you could do to improve your jumps and things like that, but it is too late for any of that. Literally, nothing you do this week is going to make you any stronger by next week that would show up in tryouts. You can’t get your jumps higher in four days.
So all I can do is tell you some strategies to maximize what you already have.
Strategy 1: Since you can’t go higher, you have to do your jumps faster, more quickly. Fortunately, control of this is as much mental as physical. By focused and intense mental concentration, you can do your jumps quicker. Force yourself to move faster and do the jump movement quicker. You can practice that in the next 4 days. Practice getting to the jump position – toe touch, herkie, etc. as fast as possible and then quickly get your feet back under you to land. Faster up to the jump position, faster feet down to the landing.
Strategy 2: For toe touches, modify your toe touch position to the most comfortable and easily reachable toe touch position possible. To figure out exactly what this position is, sit on the ground in a comfortable straddle position (preferably in front of a mirror). Notice that your legs are not straight to the side, but straddled in front of you. Now imagine yourself 4 feet up in the air in that position. Your legs are up even with your hips and are in a “straddle toe touch position” (actually a piked straddle) and this is exactly the position you should be jumping to in your toe touch. Most cheerleaders try to bring their legs up straight to the side, instead of forward, and this is so, so much harder to do well. By bringing your legs to the front, you can get them higher and more quickly and go to your “natural” straddle position. This is something you can and need to practice in the next 4 days.
Strategy 3: Bend and jump your jumps. Make sure when you do jumps, even in a routine that you bend your legs and then jump and don’t try to punch-jump which is much harder to do. You can practice this as well.
Strategy 4: When you make cheer the cheer squad (or even if you don’t), right after tryouts are over, start doing the strength training and conditioning and cheer skill practice, you could and should have been doing for all of the last year. You will either be a better cheerleader this year or you will be really ready for next year’s tryouts.
Good luck, let me know how you do and if there is anything else I can help with.