A Cheerleaders voice
Whether you're trying out or shouting out to a crowd, a cheerleaders voice is an important part of Cheerleading. And although you might not give it a lot of thought since talking is almost second nature to us, the proper care and use of a cheerleaders voice is a must to cheer successfully. By following these tips on warming your voice up, breathing correctly and avoiding misuse/abuse of your voice, you can help keep it in top shape and ensure that it will always be there when you need it.
Warming Up - Warming Down - Cheerleaders Voice
Mark Baxter of www.voicelesson.com explains it this way, "Just as your limbs require stretching before you begin a routine, your voice needs some prep time as well. You'll get more projection power and last longer if you warm up your voice. Make simple low volume siren swoops while humming, trilling the lips (brrrrrrr), rolling the tongue (trrrrrrr), buzzing the tongue (zzzzzzz) and singing EE. The same routine is good for soothing the voice after cheering, too."
Cheerleaders Breathing Exercise - Diaphragm Breathing
You've all heard the advice "use your voice from your diaphragm". Well, this exercise will help you utilize your diaphragm in an efficient way and help to strengthen this muscle. Here's how to do it:
- Lie flat on your back and bend your knees.
- Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest.
- Now, inhale through your nose, but while doing so, move your stomach out and keep your chest still.
- As you exhale, purse your lips and make your stomach go in. Again your chest should remain still.
Do this exercise for about 5-10 minutes. When you feel like you've accomplished this correctly you can add some weight to your abdomen (like laying a phone book on it) or practice the exercise in an upright sitting position or standing.
Cheerleaders Voice Misuse and Abuse - Things to Avoid
- Never cheer when your voice is hoarse.
- Do not cheer if you have a cold, allergies or an infection and stay away from people that have them.
- Do not tighten your neck muscles when cheering.
- Avoid using a fake, tense smile while cheering.
- Never eat chocolate or drink milk before you cheer. They will coat your throat and your voice won't sound as clear.
- Try not to cough or clear your throat. Instead try swallowing or taking a drink of water.
- If you think you're losing your voice, don't whisper, just talk softly.
- Avoid using unusual pitches. Don't go too high or too low with your voice.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Avoid yelling while you're running, during strenuous activity and if you're out of breath.
What You Should Do
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid germs.
- Eat properly, exercise and get plenty of rest.
- Warm up your voice and warm it down.
- Cheer while you are exhaling air and not when you're inhaling. Be sure to inhale deeply so that your lungs are filled.
- Pay attention to your voice so you can realize when you might have a problem.
Signs You Might Have a Voice Problem
- Dry scratchy voice.
- Soreness in the throat or neck.
- The feeling of a lump in your throat.
Cheering can put a lot of strain on your throat and your vocal cords, but what is a cheerleader without her voice? So, use some common sense and these preventative measures to be sure that cheerleading voice is always there whenever you open your mouth and shout it out.
Focus On Flexibility
Flexibility takes lots of work and determination. Follow these tips, focus on your flexibility, and you'll improve your Cheerleading.
It doesn't take long to figure out flexibility plays a major role in Cheerleading. Just watch any Cheerleader perform a jump, do a high kick or slide down into the splits and the fact that flexibility is important to the sport becomes very obvious. So any time spent on flexibility will definitely improve your Cheerleading. Focus on your flexibility.
Why Become More Flexible?
The benefits of improving your flexibility are many. Here are just a few good reasons:
- Flexibility improves your performance. When a joint is flexible it will take less energy to move it in a greater range of motion.
- Prevents injury and soreness. Stretching improves muscular balance and relaxation and also decreases the resistance of your tissues, therefore you are less likely to become injured or sore.
- Flexibility (stretching) increases blood supply and nutrients to your joints and surrounding tissue. This in turn promotes greater elasticity and improved performance.
- Improves muscle coordination. Stretching improves the time a nerve impulse takes to travel to your brain and back. This helps muscle groups to work together and improves coordination.
How To Increase Your Flexibility
There are two sayings that are you should keep in mind when trying to improve your flexibility. The first one is - "Use It or Lose It" - Your muscles, tendons and ligaments need a constant reminder of their ability to stretch. It is important to stretch all groups from your neck to your toes. And the second saying is - "Over Time, Not Overnight" - Increased flexibility takes time, it does not happen overnight. Work at it every chance you get, while you're watching TV, talking on the phone, reading a magazine, or sitting at your computer. Keep stretching. Here are some tips to keep in mind while stretching:
- Stretch every day, more if possible.
- Warm-up before you stretch. Never stretch a cold muscle.
- Stretch only to the point that you feel a tug. You should not feel pain and should never bounce.
- Hold each stretch 10 -30 seconds then relax and repeat. As you improve, take your stretch a little further, but never to the point of extreme pain.
- Always stretch both sides of your body in the same way and stretch all muscles groups (i.e. calf, hamstrings, arms, shoulders, groin).
- Breathe correctly. Exhale as you begin your stretch and then relax and breath normally. Do not hold your breath while stretching or tense up. Relax and concentrate.
What makes a good Cheerleader into a great Cheerleader? Why do some people make it at tryouts and others don't? When you're watching that awesome squad on TV, what makes them stand out and look like a picture of perfection? Well, mostly these questions can be answered with "they know the basics." Sure, a terrific jump or stunt might wow a crowd, but when you're careless or lazy in your fundamental Cheerleading skills like motions, you're sure to lose points on any judging sheet.
Motions are one of the basic foundations of Cheerleading and a essential skill all Cheerleaders should master and more importantly keep mastered. So, whether you're a beginning Cheerleader just learning or an experienced one whose picked up some sloppy habits, get back to the basics, follow these tips and put the magic in your motions.
Tips on Motions:
- Sharp 'n Snappy - We've probably all heard this before when referring to motions, but what does it truly mean. It means your arms should be stiff and your muscles tight. Your transitions should be smooth, snappy and quick. You should punch your motions out with a lot of strength.
- Never bend your wrists - Your wrists should never be bent, cocked or out of alignment with your arms.
- Elbows - If you're in an extended motion, your elbows should be locked.
- Arm placement - Your arms should always be slightly in front of you and level. Know exactly where the spot is to hit a motion and don't settle for anything else than that spot. Again, keep your arms stiff and muscles tight. Don't let your arms bounce or jiggle.
- Shoulders - Your shoulders should be relaxed and not raised up like in a shrug.
- Fists - Know in what direction your fist should be facing (Examples: In a High V your thumbs should be facing towards the crowd. In a Touchdown your thumbs should be facing away from the crowd). Always keep your thumb outside your fist. If ever in doubt, ask your coach.
- Transition -Take the shortest distance to the next motion and wait until the last second to make it. Move quickly and precisely.
- Synchronize your motions - Your motions should correspond with the syllables of the words in your cheer/chant or the count of your dance routines and stunts.
- The clap or clasp motion - This simple motion is often overlooked. Your hands should be under your chin, your elbows in tightly and your fingers close together. It should look clean and neat.
Exercises to Improve Your Motions:
- Arm Strengthening - Do arm strengthening exercises like push ups and weight lifting. They offer some great ways to improve the strength in your arms and shoulders. Good motions are made with strong arms.
- Hit your motions quickly - Then hold it for about 30 seconds as tight as you can. One tip in the forum also mentions tightening your butt muscles when you do this. As that will tighten your other muscles.
- Work in front of a mirror or video yourself - Stand in front of a mirror and watch as you hit your motions. Look for arm position, fist position and any extra unnecessary movements. Then close your eyes and hit the motion again. Open your eyes and look in the mirror to see how you did.
- Even when practicing other things, be sure you're completing your motions. Don't get lazy and halfway do them. Always complete each motion to the end.
- Practice with your squad - Coordinate your motions and make sure you're doing them in unison.
- Most motions have an opposite or reverse corresponding motion. Be sure to practice both.
- Use your imagination, you can combine motions. Try different and unique sequences. Be creative.