Cheerleaders jumping around on the sidelines may seem arbitrary and random, but really, jumps are skills that require athleticism, flexibility, and strength. Jumps are used to accentuate a point in a cheer or chant, grab your attention during a routine, show spirit at the end of a great play or show of spirit from the crowd.
There are eight different jumps that cheerleaders perform. Tuck, Star (also called a straddle or spread eagle), Left and Right Side Hurdlers, Toe Touch, Left and Right Front Hurdlers, and Pike.
All of the jumps are performed the same way with the difference being the body position at the top of the jump. The performance of the jumps can be broken into 4 parts; The Approach, Height, Form and the Landing. I’ll go through each of these, with some input from the NCA & UCA staff on technique.
The approach creates the momentum to follow through and help get height when jumping off the ground. It is controlled and distinct in the movement.
Start your up with your feet together and arms in a High V position. On a designated count, swing both arms downward in front of your face. As your arms cross dip down a little with your legs. Timing is key here. Your arms should be at their lowest point of the swing when the legs are at the deepest part of the dip. This allows the arms and legs to quickly explode into the air at the same time.
You should try to jump off the ground and get as much height as possible to give your body time to hit the jump and land safely. This happens when you get an explosive jump timed with the lift of the arms.
Proper jump technique puts your chest up with your shoulders slightly in front of the hips. The arms (for most jumps) should be in a strong T motion. Make sure that leg muscles are flexed and straight and toes are pointed. As flexibility increases, allow your legs to extend as high as possible and relax the hips.
If you have given yourself enough height to hit the motion at the top of the jump, you should have enough time to land properly. When landing, you should land with both feet together at the same time. If you don’t land even you can put unnecessary stress on your knees and ankles. If you are not landing with your feet together lower the height of the skill at the top of the jump until the flexibility and strength have been developed to maintain safety.
Here is a definition of each of the eight jumps:
|Cheerleading Jump Positions|
At the top of the jump, pull your knees up to your chest and point your toes. The arms should be in a High V.
Straddle / Star / Spread Eagle
At the top of the jump, the legs should come out to a Low V position with the shoelaces pointed at the crowd. The arms should be in a tight High V.
Left and Right Side Hurdlers
At the top of the jump, raise either the left or right leg to a straight position out to the side of the body. The other leg will be in a bent position to the other side parallel with the ground. The arms should be in a T motion and the chest up.
In a toe touch, you do not actually touch your toes. You want to reach for the instep of the shoe. Bring both legs up and out to the sides. Try and roll the hips back so that the shoelaces are pointed behind you. The arms should be in a T motion and the chest up.
Left and Right Front Hurdlers
This jump is performed at a 45-degree angle to the crowd in the direction of the straight leg. At the top of the jump, raise either the left or right leg to a straight position in front of the body. The other leg will be in a bent position with the knee stretched out almost like the splits. The foot of the bent leg will try to kick the seat of the jumper. The arms should be in a Touchdown motion and the chest up.
This jump is also performed at a 45-degree angle to the crowd in either direction. At the top of the jump, lift both legs to a straight position in front of the body. The arms should be in a Candlestick motion and the chest up.
Please remember that stretching before these types of strenuous activities are KEY! Make sure that you have warmed up all the muscles and worked the ankles, knees, and shoulders.
Flexibility and Core strength training will play a key role in improving the height and extension of your jumps. Practice them EVERY DAY!