C stands for core! When one says “core muscles”, most people think of their stomach, but in reality your core muscles are made up of several muscles that are broken up into stabilizer muscles and mover muscles. Your core stabilizer muscles consist of your Transverse Abdominis, Internal Obliques, Lumbar Multifidus, Pelvic Floor Muscles, Diaphragm, and Transverse Spinalis. Your mover muscles consist of your Rectus abdominis, External Obliques, Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Hamstrings, Hip Adductors, and Hip Abductors (Dr. Mike Clark, DPT). All of these muscles are what we refer to when we say squeeze your core.
Keep Your Lines
Great flyers understand the importance of maintaining a solid, straight line when up in the air. Whether the bases are dancing around like ballerinas or holding your foot like it’s a sandwich, great flyers not only know how to maintain that line, but have the strength required to maintain that line when stunts are moving. When in the air, a flyer should be able to draw a straight line from the center of her belly button through her hips, down to her posterior malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the outside of your ankle).
Muscles and Muscle Memory
So many people waste money by paying for private lessons for their athlete to be thrown into the air by two of the gym’s biggest guys. While private lessons can be very helpful when it comes to building confidence, it is important that your athlete develops the muscles and muscle memory required to hold a great straight line (also referred to as being hollow). The following exercises are great ways for flyers to practice at home, help to develop the muscles, as well as the muscle memory required to become that point flyer!
The flyer will get into a push up position, squeeze their core muscles and hold for 30 seconds up to 1-minute. You can have a partner push on the small of the back to make sure the athlete’s mid section does not move.
Hollow Hit Clean
Have your flyer lay on her back with her feet 6 inches off the floor, chin tucked in, and shoulders off the floor in a hollow body position. The flyer will count making sure to hit a high V motion on 5 and clean on 1. (The counts are not important, just make sure flyer is hitting clean, sharp motions, and cleaning tight) This will help to develop a strong core, while developing the muscle memory required for the flyer to hit their stunts tight.
Liberty Hollow Holds
This exercise is very similar to the hollow hold hits, but instead the flyer will hit a sharp liberty on 5 and clean on 1.
Liberty Twist Drills
The purpose of this drill is to teach the flyer how to twist with her hips. The drill is very similar to the Liberty Hollow Holds, but instead of cleaning on 1, the flyer will clean and perform a full twist on the floor. The twist should be initiated on 1,2 and be ready to hit the liberty by 5. Make sure that the flyer stays in a straight line. If their body starts to turn, the flyer is initiating the twist with their shoulders and not their hips!
Box Stretch Holds
You can use a couch or the end of a bed! Have the flyer lay with their shoulders on a box in an incline position. Make sure the flyer’s hips are in line with their knees, and ankles. On 5 the flyer will kick a stretch and hold until 7,8 and clean sharp on 1,2. It is important to watch the flyers hips when they kick to the stretch, if the flyer’s hips drop, then they are not squeezing their core and more than likely reaching down for the stretch.
At MGA Cheer Extreme, we use drills when teaching all aspects of cheerleading! Before we allow flyers to go into the air, we require our flyers to be able to perform these drills. We will start our stunting practice with 3 sets of 30 seconds to help our flyers build the muscles and muscle memory to fly tight. We have found by teaching flyers how to do the skills on the ground first, flyers gain a better understanding on how to perform the skill before going into the air. This understanding helps to make the flyers more confident, and most importantly has helped to prevent injuries.
If you have any questions regarding what your child can do to become a better flyer or need information about our tumbling classes, simply click here to set up a Free Skill assessment and gym tour.