How to Stretch for a Needle in Cheerleading

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A great amount of flexibility is needed to be able to execute, or "pull," a needle stunt. Unlike the heel stretch or bow-and-arrow stunts, a needle requires flexibility in the back as well as the legs. Since a needle is basically an advanced version of a scorpion, with a straight leg instead of a bent leg, it is beneficial to practice to improve the scorpion first.

Scorpion Stretch to Improve Your Needle

  • While standing on your right leg, bend your left leg and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Pull your left leg up and as close to your head as you are able to. You can lean forward to catch your balance if you need to, but you should ultimately be able to stand with your back straight while performing this stretch.

  • When you have brought your foot up high enough to reach it with your right hand, use both hands to stretch your leg higher.

  • If you are already flexible enough to pull your leg to your head, stretch it as far above your head as you are able to without causing pain. Your leg should not move forward or backward, but should instead only travel vertically.

  • Continue pulling your leg straight up until your knee is locked and your leg is completely straight; you will have to grasp your ankle or calf when you can no longer reach your foot. When you have reached this position, hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds.

  • Perform blocks of this stretch at least once a day, for a minimum of five repetitions. Over time, your flexibility will increase and you will be able to pull your needle and hold the stretch for extended periods of time.

Split Stretches to Improve Your Needle

Tips & Warnings

  • Always warm up and stretch your legs, arms, and back before attempting these stretches. Stretching cold muscles could result in pulled or torn muscles.
  • Most flyers already have flexible legs so it is often very helpful for them to incorporate extra back stretches into the pre-existing stretching routine.
  • Since cheerleading stunts are primarily done while standing on the right leg and stretching the left leg, it will be most beneficial for you to be able to execute a needle on your left leg, since that is what you will use most often. It is best to be able to pull both, however, so it is a good idea to stretch both legs and both sides of your back.
  • Be sure not to stretch to the point of extreme pain. Some discomfort is normal because improving flexibility requires pushing the flyer out of her stretching comfort zone, but stretching too far too soon could result in pulled or torn muscles or ligaments.
  • Always master this skill on the ground before attempting to execute it while in a stunt. Make sure the stunt can be held stable for 15 seconds on the ground before putting it in the air.

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  • Photo Credit Stretching 2 image by Infs from Fotolia.com stretching girl image by Dmitri MIkitenko from Fotolia.com
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