Although every college cheerleading squad will have at least slightly different requirements for tumbling, stunting, and even body size, they do share many of the same requisites. In general, college cheerleaders are expected to have at least basic standing and running tumbling, along with the ability to participate in a variety of stunts as either a base or a flyer. Male stunters and tumblers will have different strength and body size expectations, as will female bases and flyers.
How to Train to Make a College Cheerleading Squad
It is extremely important for all college cheerleaders to be in good cardiovascular shape, since they have to have the stamina to continue tumbling, stunting, and cheering through games that can run four hours long. This is achieved through continuous, challenging aerobic exercise, such as running, biking, and swimming, or playing sports like basketball or soccer. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends employing cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week, with each session varying in duration from 20 to 60 minutes. (see first reference)
It is imperative for all cheerleaders, but especially for bases, to use weights or resistance training to gain and improve muscle tone. Tumbling and stunting, although they are aerobically demanding, require a great deal of muscle. Doing either of these consistently (at least a couple times a week) is a great way to increase cardiovascular and muscular fitness.
Flexibility is a must for flyers, especially in the back, hamstrings, and hip flexors. The best way to increase this is to practice straddle sits, splits on both sides and in the middle, and back bends (bridges) at least once a day. After stretching, begin slowly attempting to pull stunts such as heel stretches, scorpions, and bow-n-arrows.
Balance is a key element to hitting and perfecting stunts, both for the bases and for the flyer. A flyer has to be able to keep her balance in the air, often on one foot and in positions most people could not even balance on the ground. Bases, on the other hand, have to be able to help balance the flyer and keep their own balance while holding another person up. (Please refer to the resource at bottom for balance drills.)
Some colleges have weight or body fat percentage requirements for their cheerleading squads, partly to maintain a standard of fitness and partly because many of them use crop-top uniforms. You can check the cheer guidelines, which can often be found on the school's cheerleading website, to determine whether or not your weight currently falls into an acceptable range.
If you do not have experience tumbling or stunting, you can easily find cheerleading and gymnastics gyms in your area via the internet. Most gyms offer tumbling classes for tumblers of all levels, and many have staff on-hand that can assist in teaching stunting techniques.
Tips & Warnings
- It is best to keep in shape by doing something you enjoy, since you will be more likely to continue faithfully in that activity.
- Begin training at least a couple months in advance. This will ensure gradual, healthy changes in your weight and/or body composition.
- If you need to lose weight, never attempt to lose more than one to two pounds a week.
- Do not begin a diet or exercise program without first consulting a doctor or other trained professional.
- Photo Credit (www.flikr.com, www.udel.com
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