Heel stretch cheerleading stunts are an advanced stunt performed by flyers while balancing on one foot. The flyer is held up by one or two bases while performing the stunt. These stunts require balance, coordination and impressive flexibility, particularly of the hips, hamstrings and back. If you're just learning the stunt, make sure you practice under close supervision of a cheerleading coach to prevent any unnecessary injury.
Form for Heel Stretch Cheerleading Stunts
Depending on the makeup of your team, you might perform heel stretch cheerleading stunts as part of a coed partner stunt, or as an all-girl stunt with two or three bases. The stunt is performed essentially the same way in either case, but the arrangement of the stunt team could affect your dismount, so make sure you know exactly how your teammates expect you to come out of the stunt once you've hit it. The basic way to achieve heel stretch form:
- When you load into the stunt, you're going to balance on your right foot.
- To keep your left foot out of the way, point your toe backward slightly.
- After you've loaded into the stunt and you've achieved balance on your right leg, you're going to kick your left leg up as high as you can in front of your body, catching the bottom of your left foot with your left hand, pulling your leg even closer to your body.
- When you grab your foot, you want to grab the outside of your foot and the bottom of your heel, rather than grabbing the inside of your foot.
- After you have achieved your balance, hit the stunt with your right arm in a high "V" formation.
- Once you've held the stunt for several counts, dismount in the appropriate fashion.
Learning the Stunt
You can practice heel stretch cheerleading stunts while standing on solid ground. You practice the stunt on the ground just like you would perform it in a competition situation. Stand on your right leg, then kick your left leg as high into the air as you can, catching your heel and pulling your leg into your body. If you have the balance, coordination and flexibility to perform the exercise on the floor, chances are you'll have no problem learning the actual stunt.
If you find that your major hindrance to performance is your flexibility, spend some time stretching.
- Warm up sufficiently before practicing. Spend 10 to 20 minutes performing cardiovascular exercises that get your muscles loose before performing stunts.
- After warming up, stretch out for another 10 to 15 minutes, focusing on your hips, low back and hamstrings. Work on your splits, your straddle stretches and your hip flexor stretches, just to name a few.
- Use a yoga strap or towel to help you perform the exercise. One surefire way to improve your stunt performance is to perform the actual stunt. While standing on solid ground, tie a yoga strap or a long piece of material around your right heel and ankle. Hold the loose ends of the strap in each hand and kick your leg up into the air pulling the ends of the strap to bring your leg closer to your body. Hold as long as you can, then release the stunt. Continue practicing this movement, slowly increasing your flexibility.
- When first performing the stunt, grab your calf or ankle while maintaining otherwise good form, keeping your leg straight.
Many girls are tempted to grab their heel, but bend their knee if they lack the appropriate level of flexibility. This actually hinders form. By grabbing your calf or ankle, you don't need quite as much flexibility as if you were grabbing your heel, but you'll still maintain the proper form and prevent yourself from forming bad habits.
Like any other stunt, it's important that you allow yourself to build up gradually to the full heel stretch. Keep practicing and conferring with your coach to make sure you stay on track. You may be surprised at just how quickly your flexibility and balance improve and how quickly you're able to master the stunt.