The straddle splits are a form of splits where your torso faces forward while your legs reach out to either side. When you're able to perform a true straddle split, the entire expanse of your leg will touch the floor during the split. It takes a lot of flexibility and practice to learn this type of split, but once you've mastered the skill, many of your cheerleading jumps, stunts and lifts will benefit.
Learning the Straddle Splits
You'll want to work on your leg, back and hip flexibility as you learn to do the splits. Spend approximately 10 minutes getting yourself warmed up before you start a stretching routine. When your muscles are warm, you'll be able to reach deeper into your stretches and still prevent unnecessary injury. After you're nice and warm, try the following stretches:
Kneeling Groin Stretch
Kneel on the ground and step your knees out to the sides as far as you can, almost as if you were trying to perform a kneeling splits. Lean your torso forward and place your elbows and forearms on the ground for support. In this position, see if you can stretch your knees any farther apart for a deeper stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, relax, then perform the stretch again.
Standing Straddle Stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your torso facing forward. Start sliding both feet out to the sides as far as you can. You can lean your torso forward and place your hands on the ground for balance and support as needed. When you start feeling a stretch in your groin, stop sliding your feet outward and hold the position for 20 seconds. After 20 seconds, see if you can comfortably stretch your legs any further. If so, stretch and hold for another 20 seconds. If not, release the stretch, relax, then repeat the stretch a second time.
The butterfly stretch will stretch your groin and your inner thighs. Sit on the ground and draw your knees up to your chest, your feet on the floor. Grab the inside of your ankles and allow your thighs to open outwards so that your outer thigh is resting on the ground, the soles of your feet touching. Place your elbows on your knees and press your knees down toward the floor until you feel a good stretch. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds, then relax and repeat.
Seated Straddle Stretch
Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Move each leg out as far as you can to either side, keeping your torso upright. Lean your torso forward between your legs and reach as far forward as you can. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Sit up, then reach your right hand toward your right ankle as far as you can, keeping your torso facing forward. Next, reach your left arm up over your head as you lean your entire body toward your right ankle, trying to grab your right ankle with your left hand. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax the stretch. Perform the same stretch, but this time reach to your left side. After you've performed the entire series, try to move your legs further out to the sides, then perform the entire series a second time.
Using the Straddle Split in Cheerleading
After you've mastered your straddle splits, you'll find that your cheerleading jumps, like the toe touch and side hurdler, will become easier and more technically sound due to your increased flexibility. If you're a flyer, you can even incorporate the straddle splits into a basket toss with a toe touch, or into a lift with the split lift. Even though it will take time and effort to gain the flexibility necessary to perform this type of split, you'll end up being a better overall cheerleader because of your effort.