If you’re a tumbler for a cheerleading team, you understand the importance of having high and technically correct jumps. Even if you aren’t a tumbler on your cheer team, you still know the importance on having impeccable jumps. Higher jumps plus lots of practice equals a uniform cheerleading team that is on point at cheer competition or any other performance. Working toward the goal of having higher jumps is a little more complicated than just going to the gym and obsessively performing leg exercises. Having high jumps with perfect execution of leg extension and pointed toes is a sign of a true athlete that has spent a lot of time fine tuning their body with exercising, stretching and practice. Stretch! Not only is this a requirement to perform jumps such as toes touches and herkies, but multiple studies over the past few years have shown that stretching can help improve the height of your jump. According to active.com, regular, everyday stretching increases “muscle force production and contraction velocity, suggesting that the benefits resulted from muscle strengthening.” So what does all of this scientific jargon mean? Stretching actually makes muscles strong! Create a daily stretching routine (if you’re a cheerleader, you should already be practicing this!) and stick to it. Jump! This may sound like the overly obvious exercise to practice, but muscle memory is the best way to work towards your fitness goal. This is the literal meaning behind the “practice makes perfect” saying. You’re not only practicing repetitive movements to perfect your technique, but you’re also working every muscle it takes to perform jumps. Work on repetitive jumping drills. Get into a standing position with your legs together and arms straight by your side. For counting purposes, and keeping good cheer form, clap then put your arms into a high “V” with your fist closed. Bend your knees and execute a simple jump into the air by straightening your legs. Land and return to your starting position with your feet together, legs straight, and arms by your side. Perform in repetitions to build your muscles. Work your way from just a simple jump to pikes and toe touches as well. Core Essentials. Build your core to perfect jumps. When you perform cheerleading jumps, you should not be lowering your upper body to your toes. That will prevent you from reaching your maximum height while jumping. The proper way to execute a jump is by using your abs to pull your legs up. Having a physical routine of ab focused exercises will help build the muscles that are dominant during jumps. Check out The Weekly Fitness Post: Core Building for Flyers and The Weekly Fitness Post: Rock Hard Abs for Cheerleading Bases. Get the leg up on jumps! No pun intended! Leg exercises that include lifts focus on leg muscles that will be active during jumps and engage abdominals. Sit on the floor with your knees straight and legs in a “V” position, with your hands behind you for support. Lift both legs about a foot off the floor while leaning back to help you keep your balance. Remember to keep your legs and back as straight as possible. Hold this position for a few seconds, release and rest for a couple of seconds, and then repeat. Another great exercise for legs is Leg Circles. In the same position as the previous exercise, lift your right leg a foot off of the ground and move your leg in a circular motion clockwise 20 times. Reverse into a counter-clockwise motion 20 times and repeat both motions on your left leg. Other great exercises to practice for jumps are lunges, jumping jacks and adding light ankle lifts to your leg exercises to help build resistance. Adding all of the above points to your physical regiment will not only help you obtain higher jumps, but also help you become a better athlete!