Have you ever seen something and just thought ‘I want to try that?’ We, at the Vertical Studio often just want the opportunity to try things we’ve never done before. We’ve all seen the American High School based films where the cheerleaders have amazing moves, jumps, flips and tumbling passes and the high flying stunt tricks. How many of you have wished you could have tried it growing up? Well, even as 30 something aged adults, we decided that we’d love to try Cheerleading. I mean, why not? Right?
Our aim is to make fitness fun, and doesn’t it seem like fun to fly through the air, and create amazing shapes with your body, and have an amazing team of people you trust around you enabling you to do so? We think it does. So that’s what we did.
We’re not stupid; we know that it’s a highly skilled sport. What we needed was an instructor who was willing to take us through the basics and teach us from scratch. Someone who would have the patience to help us, not only learn the moves, but the correct forms and posture for them. And that’s who we found in Hayley.
Meet The Instructor
Hayley started cheerleading in 2003 so has been committed to the sport for 14 years now. At high school she was part of the Blackburn Panthers team and hasn’t looked back, it is now a permanent passion of her life. In 2007 she came 2nd at the UKCA National Championships and won the bid to represent the UK at the Europeans. In 2007 she went to Hull University and joined Hull Sharkettes Cheerleading team (Level 3) where she became captain in her second year! Once leaving university she joined Lancashire Twisters (Level 5 team) in 2010 which to this day remain unbeaten consecutive National and European Champions – sadly they are no longer around. In 2012 she went to the World Cheerleading Championships in Disneyland, Florida – it was the most amazing atmosphere and best experience ever. When Twisters sadly folded she joined Cheer Valley (Level 4) in 2012 where I became an assistant coach and coached till I was 8 months pregnant. She moved to Scunthorpe from Blackburn, Lancashire and is now a level 5 qualified coach.
To get us to the high flying stunt tricks she is teaching us the correct techniques for lifting each other, containing ourselves in the correct posture to be able to be safely lifted, thrown, and caught by our team mates.
What we’ve learned so far, is that most moves in Cheerleading are an extension of a basic move, so it’s always good to learn through progression starting with the basics.
It’s not as easy as just lifting someone up on your hands, or being thrown about with impunity, there is technique to everything, from your hand positions in the way you lift someone, to the way you turn your wrists together once the flyer is elevated. You work in conjunction with at least one other person at all times, and to synchronise a lift is actually very hard. And yet Hayley broke it down into bite sized pieces, enabling us to actually lift flyers in our first ever lesson.
Starting Out In Cheerleading
Cheerleading starts with perfecting the floor work. So lots of cart wheels, somersaults and dance choreography. You will learn the positions for lifting team mates in the air but this is mixed with learning those pike jumps and acrobatic holds on the floor first! Progress starts slow but there is a role for everyone and different people tend to be better at different aspects of cheer.
We’re learning as we go, so you’ll probably get another blog in a couple of weeks with a progress update, but here’s what we know so far….
- Positive attitude is a MUST! ‘Can’t is not part of your vocabulary for Cheer. Instead it is replaced by ‘I’ll give it a go’.
- The people who get thrown about are called Flyers.
- The people who throw other people are called Bases.
- Cheer motions are important. (For non-cheer people this is basically the positioning of your arms) They not only signify the stance you are in, and the message you want to send, but are important for safety when being lifted and caught. These motions can be used while a cheerleader is on the ground or when she is up in a stunt, so the position of the feet will vary from being shoulder width apart to being together, depending on when and how it is being used.
- Laughing while lifting someone can make you and them wobble. (Probably best not to be cracking jokes, at such a time as you are being lifted).
- If you’re going to be a flyer wear trainers/plimsolls with as smooth a sole as you can find. Heavy treads are going to tear up the hands of those who are your Base.
We had a crazy time at our first session, filled with laughter and fun, some self-doubt that we ultimately overcame, and a growing appreciation for all things Cheer. So in preparation for the next class, I’m leaving a little overview of some basic Cheer motions for us all to review and practice. Looking forward to seeing you all there Thursday nights 8-9pm.
The Basics Of Cheer
Some basic cheer motions with the focus on the position of the arms. You may perform them, or see them performed, slightly differently.
Extend your arms upwards and at a 45-degree angle from your head with your hands in fists. Keep your thumbs facing out and your pinkies facing back.
Extend your arms downwards and at a 45-degree angle from your body with your hands in fists. Keep your thumbs facing out and your pinkies facing back.
Extend both arms straight up, and bring them in line with your body so that your arms touch your ears. Keep your hands in fists, with your fingers facing in and your knuckles facing out.
Extend both arms straight down, and bring them in tight with your body. Arms should be in line with, but pulled slightly in front of the legs. Keep your hands in fists, with your thumbs facing the crowd and your pinkies facing your body, with your fingers facing each other.
Bend your elbows and bring your arms in tight to your body. Your elbows should be pulled in and pointed down, and your hands should be just below your chin. Keep your hands in fists, with your fingers facing in and your knuckles facing out. Your thumbs will be toward your body, and your pinkies will be away from your body.
Extend one arm straight up (into the Touchdown position). The other arm is resting on the hip, with the hand in a fist. That elbow should be pointing to your side. The punch can be done as a right punch or left punch. The arm in the Touchdown position determines which move it is (if the right arm is in a Touchdown, it is a right punch).
That’s all for now, though I’m sure I’ll keep you updated on class progress from time to time. In the mean time, here’s some class photos, of us learning to lift and catch each other.