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GOING FROM GOOD TO GREAT!
Home | BECOMING A CHEERLEADER - PART 1 | Learn How To Become A Cheerleader Part 2 | CONDITIONING FOR MANEUVERS | GYMNASTICS | IS CHEERLEADING A SPORT? | GOING FROM GOOD TO GREAT! | THE HISTORY OF CHEERLEADING | CHEERLEADING TERMINOLOGY | CHEERLEADING TRYOUTS | YOU KNOW YOU ARE A CHEERLEADER WHEN...

Have you ever wondered what sets a great cheerleader apart from the rest of the squad? What makes them so special? How can you raise the level of your cheering from good to great? The best cheerleaders are dedicated and very determined; you should be as well.

Let us look at some things and then you can analyze the differences so you can determine if you are lacking on what it takes to be a great cheerleader.

Are you willing to try new things? Not just for yourself, but for the overall benefit of your squad? Do you help your teammates? If you see a squad member struggling with a skill, will you stop to offer constructive advice and help? Do you work on your cheerleading skills every day? Do you realize you can always improve something? You should realize that Cheerleading is made up of a lot different aspects, i.e. voice, motions, jumps, dance, stunts, and gymnastics, that all need fine-tuning. Are you aware that your behavior and attitude are a big part of being a cheerleader? Do you work on these areas? Are you involved in the community? Do you volunteer to help younger people?

Have you reached the point that you know you are not just a cheerleader at practice, a game, or a performance? You are a cheerleader all the time, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Can you follow directions and take constructive criticism? Some of the best cheerleaders have to work the hardest on their skills, but they have what it takes to be great on the inside. They have a cheerleading heart and attitude. A squad can only be as good as its weakest member, so it benefits everyone to raise the level of cheerleading throughout the whole team and this is what being a team player is all about.

A good cheerleader must have a wide repertoire of skills, which should include precision movements, gymnastics, and tumbling, lifting and pyramids, and dancing ability. These techniques all involve coordination and timing, but each has its own distinctive flavor too. Most competitive teams have cheerleaders who specialize in one or another of these skills, so if you have one that is your favorite, you may be able to become a specialist in it. First, though, you should be sure you know and try each of them, if only to get a sense of what your options are.

Nowadays, many cheerleaders are excellent dancers, but the classic cheerleader spends a good deal of time performing precision movements. These involve strict timing and sharp, defined motions. There are only a few basic arm movements: daggers, vertical-up, high v, horizontal, low v, vertical-down, hands on hips, punch, and diagonal. It is like synchronized swimming , but on a muddy football field. By adding small variations to the position of your hands, and varying what you do with each arm; you can build a huge array of motions. You will want to practice these motions in a mirror to work on your precision. Also be aware of your presentation, which should always involve your smiling, keeping your head up, keeping the motions sharp and snappy, and refraining from staring at one point.

Gymnastics and tumbling are skills that are sports in their own right. Because they add so much to any cheerleader's skills, though, we recommend that you pursue these skills with specialists. The most spectacular movements are often tumbling runs involving back-to-back handsprings, but you will want to be sure to have a trained coach educate you. You can work a variety of jumps into your routine without specialized training. There are ten classic jumps, tuck c, spread, herkie, stag, toe touch, split, hurdler, pike, and doubles. Again, you can add to these any variety of hand motions to make your routines unique.

Working with a partner can open up an even broader range of cheerleading movements, and many excellent squads rely on partner and double stunts as a mainstay of their routines. These are best practiced with the assistance of trained coaches and spotters, as the risks of injury are high for novices. The most exciting thing about working on these motions is that they can quickly lead to elaborate pyramids if you combine various partner pairs. There are a few basic rules to keep in mind whenever you attempt a pyramid.

Be sure you have plenty of experienced spotters. Build the pyramid one level at a time; do not move up until the entire base is formed. Plan the building order beforehand and disassemble the pyramid in the reverse order that you built it. Keep your cheer progressing as you build, using various new levels to accentuate parts of the cheer. Always finish with a flourish, emphasizing the final words of the cheer. Oh, and always smile, you want this to look easy.

Dance in many ways is the opposite of precision movement. Rather than punctuating each motion as a separate move, dance focuses on smooth and flowing routines. Many cheerleading squads combine dance with precision movements, by using dance moves for the legs, for instance, while using the arms for precision movements. Many schools now have entirely different squads for cheerleading and for dance, which demonstrates how different these two disciplines can be. However, music can be such an excellent asset for any routine, that every squad should consider choreographing a few dance moves.

No matter what element of cheerleading you choose to specialize in, you and your squad will benefit a great deal if you take the time to experiment with all your possibilities. If you have a background in gymnastics, you should have a friend teach you some dance moves. Similarly, if you have never participated in any strength moves, you may discover that you have a great skill with partner movements and building pyramids. So explore all your options, and become the best cheerleader you can be.