A proper warm-up is important for any sport, but especially when it comes to cheering. The high impact of tumbling skills and flexibility required for jumps and body positions takes a big toll on the body. If you're not warmed up properly, injury is a high likelihood. Preparing for practice is more than just the warm-up before. As an athlete, you have to make sure that you are not only preparing right before, but throughout the day as well.
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and hydrating yourself in preparation for the sweat that is sure to come later. You can also drink BCAAs, which help to hydrate the muscles and keep them from fatiguing as fast as they normally would. You can drink these before, during, or after practice.
Going along with drinking water, you need to properly fuel your body as well. Calories are the fuel that is going to get you through practice. Be sure to choose healthy, energy promoting foods such as carbohydrates like oatmeal and toast for breakfast. You can eat things such as sandwiches on whole-grain bread, burrito or rice bowls, or chicken salads. Try to include some fruits like a banana or an apple as a snack before or during practice.
Attached below is a link to 7 amazing resources for proper athlete nutrition. Nutrition is one of the most important things, not only for athletes in general but especially for cheerleaders. Cheerleading is a sport that puts a lot of pressure on maintaining a certain body type for both males and females. In order to maintain this body type in a healthy way, nutrition is the most important thing. Proper nutrition will allow you to push your body to its max, and it will help prevent injury.
Now, to actually warm-up for practice, you want to be sure that your whole body is warm and ready to move around. Before jumping straight into stunting, tumbling, and stretching, you can perform some of these moves to get your body moving. I suggest an active warm-up.
Jogging for about 10+ minutes before practice is a great way to get your body moving and active. It ensures that your legs, arms, and lungs are ready to go to the max during practice. (If you're sweating a little bit, that's a good thing.)
- high knees (down and back across the mat)
- butt kicks (down and back down and back across the mat)
- broad jumps (down and back across the mat)
- lunges (down and back across the mat)
- 10 push-ups
- 10 jump squats
- 10 fire hydrants (each leg)
- 10 iron cross (each side)
- 20 sec hollow hold
- 20 sit-ups
- 20 glute bridges
For male cheerleaders, it is important to warm up the legs, back, shoulders, arms, and wrists. Partner stunting and pyramid work put a large toll on all of these body parts. Remember to follow stunt progressions when warming up to prevent injury to the body.
For female cheerleaders, it is important to warm up ankles, hamstrings, knees, shoulders, wrists, and back. It is especially important if you are doing body positions. Attempting body positions while cold increases the likelihood of muscle pulls and tears exponentially. Make sure that after your warm-up, you get a good stretch in before attempting body positions.
The most important part of preparation is mental preparation. There are a few things you can do to check yourself mentally for practice.
The first is to have a positive attitude. Be open and willing to whatever your coach may ask of you during each practice. Never use the word can't and always believe that you are able to do something. The more you say can't, the more likely you will struggle at the task.
Go into each practice with an open mind. Don't be afraid to try a new skill, position, or a new way of doing things. You never know what you might learn. Your potential is way beyond what you can imagine yourself, and having an open mind will help you excel far beyond what you thought was possible.
Lastly, be prepared for trials and hardships. Practice is going to be hard. You may feel like you are unable to do another rep of a skill, or your muscles may be aching, but your mind is stronger than your body. If you prepare your mind to meet each challenge