In learning any new skill, there are bound to be mistakes – it’s part of the learning process. Jumps are no different. There are so many small elements to coordinate, that it can take some practice to get them all right.
In all my years of cheer and teaching jumps, I have seen a variety of mistakes and I’ve made quite a few of them myself. By catching them when first starting out, it will save a lot of time and frustration trying to break bad habits down the road.
To help out, I’ve compiled this list of some of the most common jump mistakes I’ve seen over the years. These are not limited to beginners, though. Even the most experienced cheerleaders can still struggle with some of these or may not even realize they are doing them.
I dive into each mistake below, but if you are more of a visual learner, scroll to the bottom for a video where I demonstrate each of these points.
1 | Throwing your arms back on the approach
A common error for beginners when doing the high V approach is to throw the arms back too far in the high V and stick the chest out. Sometimes in trying to make that motion really sharp, there is a little bit too much power and you can forget to stop the motion in front of your body.
2 | Breaking your arms on your swing
It is important to keep the arms straight throughout the swing as that is what helps with the upward momentum. When you bend your arms mid-swing, it zaps the power (and makes your jump less sharp).
3 | Double bouncing before your cheer jump
Another very common mistake is doing an extra bounce before the jump. This is especially common when doing an approach that incorporates a clap and squat. Always be sure your feet stay planted until it is time to actually do the jump!
4 | Punching out your arms
Similar to breaking your arms on the swing, some beginners may try to punch their arms out when hitting their cheer jump. Like I mentioned previously, the arms should stay straight throughout the swing. Avoid the urge to pull the arms into the chest and punch them out to the final motion.
5 | Forgetting to actually jump
Now this one may seem silly, but you may not believe how common it actually is, especially for beginners. When it comes to doing the actual jump motion, sometimes a cheerleader is so worried about getting to the final position that they try to pull their legs up before they have fully extended off the floor. This leads to a very low jump and not being able to get their legs as high as they’d like because of the lack of height.
6 | Misplaced arms
Though we often worry about how high we can get our legs, it is equally important to pay attention to arm placement while in the air. This was one of my biggest challenges that I only realized after seeing the action shots my mom took at games – and one of my arms was always just doing it’s own thing (see photo above ). Always know exactly where your arms should be in the air and don’t forget about them!
7 | Trying to actually touch your toes in a toe touch
Along the same lines as number 6 – but so important it needs its own point – is taking the term “toe touch” literally. Though it is called that, you should not actually be trying to touch your toes in the jump. Arms for a toe touch should be in a T. If your legs get high enough, you will put your arms in front of your legs.
8 | Dropping your chest
Another common mistake while doing cheer jumps is to drop the chest while in the air. This sometimes goes along with trying to reach for the toes, and really limits the height of the jump. Keeping your eyes up during the jump will also help to keep your chest up.
9 | Flexed feet
This next error can sneak up on cheerleaders at any level – forgetting to point your toes. No explanation needed.
10 | Messy landings
Another one that I personally had to work on is making sure you are landing with both feet together and at the same time. For the toe touch, it can be a challenge to get both feet all the way back together on the landing. Some cheerleaders (hi, it’s me) may have to work extra hard to make sure both feet are landing at the same time on their front hurdlers. It is easy for the back foot to land first since it is so much closer to the ground!
Share this video with your coach or teammates and be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel for more tips and drills. Let me know in the video comments what your biggest challenge is when it comes to jumps.