How to Stretch for a Needle in Cheerleading

By Sarah Clinton

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

Since you often stand on your right leg in stunts, the right splits help simulate the required body position in the air.

After warming up your muscles adequately, slide into the splits with your right leg in front of you and your left leg behind you.

Bend your back as far as you can toward your back leg. The object of this is to try to touch the back of your head to the back of your left knee, simulating the body position you are in when you pull your needle.

Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then repeat two more times.

Improving flexibilty in both legs and both sides of the back enables a flyer to perform twice as many stunts as if she only stretched one side.

When you have performed all three repetitions in your right split, switch legs and execute the same stretch with your left leg in front of you and your right leg behind you.

Just as you perform this stretch in the left splits, hold the position for at least 10 seconds and repeat two more times.

About the Author

Sarah Clinton is a graduate student at the University of Missouri, where she holds a graduate assistant position at the University of Missouri News Bureau. She will obtain her Master of Education in sport psychology in May of 2015. She completed her Bachelor of Arts at Vanderbilt University.

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