1. First athlete then cheerleader
When athletes start cheerleading it is important to build their strength, flexibility, agility and awareness first. It is easier to pick on technique and make corrections when your body is strong and has awareness.
2. When demonstrating as a coach, make sure it looks perfect
Visual aspect of coaching is one of the most important ways of passing information/technique to athletes. If a movement is demonstrated incorrectly (i.e., with bent arms), athletes will see and repeat that movement. This is especially important when it comes to demonstrating tumbling and stunting technique. The more an athlete sees it done correctly, the more they will start mimicking this movement.
3. Have athletes fix corrections themselves
When an athlete is given a correction, they should be the ones adjusting their body parts/movement in the desired way. This helps the athlete use their own brain to send the signal to their muscles allowing them to recognize the correct movement and be able to execute it again. If we do it for them, they do not get the needed experience and understanding of what needs to happen.
Example: when we lightly spot them for a back bend and they want to throw their head out, we encourage them to put their head in the correct position with words and not by moving their head in that position by ourselves. We can put our hand in front of their forehead and tell them to try and touch it.
Tip: using resistance will help athletes tighten the muscles needed to execute the skill even more, resulting in them mastering the movement faster.
4. Teach simple movements to complex movements
Start with breaking down the skill into multiple parts. Athletes should understand each part that makes up a skill before putting parts together. If they do not understand a certain part of the skill, we cannot expect them to do it correctly when all parts are connected. Once they understand each part, we can start connecting parts together. When this happens, we want to execute it in a slow and controlled way on a surface that will allow them to feel safe and will allow athletes to feel what is going on with their body when they are moving through all the parts of the skill. After that, we start speeding up the movement in increments that still allow athletes to execute all the movements correctly. When speed is good and movement looks good, we start changing the surface – we move from soft and bouncy surface to hard surface.
Example: Standing handspring
· Teach different parts:
- Standing position to athletic stance
- Athletic stance to jump
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