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Cheerleading Classes for Beginners

By Michelle Powell-Smith

Cheerleading classes provide the essential skills for a successful cheer tryout or cheer season, whether you cheer for school, a recreational team or a competitive team. Beginning cheer classes may focus solely on tumbling and jumps or may teach counts and routines. Beginning cheerleaders may be starting from scratch, or have a background in tumbling and dance.

Finding a Cheer Class

Many gymnastics facilities offer cheerleading or cheer skills classes. Classes for young children are typically recreational cheer, complete with uniforms, routines and occasional performances. If you're planning to cheer for a school team, look for a cheer skills class rather than recreational cheer classes. Skills classes focus solely on tumbling and jumps, without spending time teaching routines. These classes may or may not teach stunts.

Stretching and Warm Ups

All cheer classes should begin with stretching and warm-up exercises. Stretching is essential for all cheerleading classes, whether you're a beginner or more skilled. Stretching provides improved flexibility, which will help your tumbling passes, jumps and stunting. A good warm-up should work your shoulders, wrists, groin and hips, knees and ankles to reduce the risk of injury.

Preps

Preps are an essential first step in cheer skills. The motion of the prep provides essential momentum, height and strength for jumps. While there are a number of different preps, most are done with clenched fists and move the arms, ending with the arms by the sides, held together or crossed in front of the body. You should end a prep on your toes, ready to jump. Preps are also used before stunts, with the body position varying depending upon the stunt and your role in it.

Jumps

Once you know how to prep for a jump, you'll learn the basic jumps essential for cheer, including pikes, hurdlers, tuck jumps, spread eagles, and toe touches. Jumps should be high, strong and controlled. You may practice jumps on the mats, on a traditional trampoline or on a long, runway-style tumble-tramp.

Tumbling

Beginning cheer classes teach basic tumbling skills. You'll start with forward rolls and backbends, then learn cartwheels, round-offs and back walkovers. If you have some tumbling skills already, you'll work on back handsprings. More advanced skills include standing tucks and complex tumbling passes.

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