There are two types of cheerleaders – those who love jumps and those who try to avoid them at all costs. I am definitely a jump person! Jumps are a relatively simple way to add excitement and visual interest to your cheers, routines, and general spiriting. Though it may take some cheerleaders a little bit of time to get the hang of proper jump technique (and to build up their strength and flexibility), the good news is that once you get it, it becomes second nature quickly!
In this post, we will focus on learning the most common cheerleading jumps, breaking down the proper placement for arms and legs. I did intentionally leave out a couple jumps that are usually included in these lists, such as the double nine and double hook. I’m not sure these have been widely used since at least the late 90s or very early 2000s. As cheerleading continues to evolve some skills and techniques may evolve or fade out, and that’s ok. I would wager that the herkie is next on the endangered skills list, but I have left it for now because I feel it is important to help understand the difference between a herkie and a side hurdler.
Anyway, let’s dive in!
Though the straight jump (also called a T jump) will probably never be used in a routine, it is a great tool for learning the counts for a jump and for working on arm placement and timing.
The tuck jump is great for beginners and young cheerleaders to work on pulling their legs up while in the air. The knees should come up to the chest and arms should be in a high V or a high touchdown. Tuck jumps are also a great tool to help build core strength for tucks in tumbling.
A spread eagle is the next step for beginners to start learning how to hit a position while in the air. Legs should come out to the sides only as far they are able while keeping the hips rotated forward and toes facing the front.
For the side hurdler, one leg extends to the side, while the other bends toward the back with the knee facing out. Arms should be in a “T” motion. If the straight leg comes up high enough, it should go behind the arm. The straight leg determines whether it is a “right” or “left” hurdler.
The Herkie is named after the Father of Modern Cheerleading, Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer. Legend has it that ole Herk was not able to do a proper hurdler, so this was his version. The difference between the herkie and the hurdler is that the bent knee points down, and the hips turn to the side ever-so-slightly with arms in a punch. This was my first time ever doing a Herkie, and let me tell you, it was so much harder than it looks!
The front hurdler is performed at an angle to the audience or facing the side. The leg furthest from the crowd will come up straight in front as high as possible, while the other bends behind. Arms can be in a touchdown (pictured) or in a high V. Like the side, The straight leg straight leg determines whether it is a “right” or “left” front.
For the toe touch, both legs should come up as high as possible in a straddle position, with hips rotated back. Contrary to the name, arms should be in a “T” motion and should not actually try to touch the toes. When the legs get high enough, arms should go in front of the legs.
To do a pike, both legs will come up straight in front with arms in candlesticks. This jump is performed facing the side so the crowd can really see the shape.
Though not very common, the around the world is extremely impressive when performed well. This jump consists of pulling the legs up in a pike position, then rotating them out to a toe touch before landing.
(Full disclosure, I haven’t attempted one of these since high school. I’m too old to break an ankle so i reused the toe touch picture, clearly!)
I have also created this poster with all of the above jumps for you to share and save for easy reference.
Now that you know the different cheerleading jumps, let’s learn how to actually do one. Check out these posts for a how-to guide, as well as tips and trick to improve your jumps (links coming soon!):
- How to do a Cheerleading Jump
- 10 Common Cheer Jump Mistakes