Point Your FEET
Ok, I’ll admit it, I suffer slightly from a cheer disorder that can only be described as anal OCD perfectionist coaching syndrome. I can’t stand to see even a thumb out of place, a motion out of sync, a bent leg, and most of all I cannot stand to see flexed feet. I came from a background of military style gymnastics and disciplined ballet and pointe…where coaches and instructors demanded every last fraction of every element to be perfect.
Perfectionism is engraved into my DNA at this point, and for the past 20 years the cheer world has been ever so lucky to deal with my crazy obsession of striving for perfect technique and form.
Most often in cheer you don’t hear ‘point your feet’, instead you hear the infamous ‘point your toes’. It’s heard echoing throughout the walls of every gym, every night. How many of your athlete’s know how to properly point their ‘toes’? It seems so simple, but yet it is one of the most common things that is done incorrectly and once fixed can make a significant impact in overall form and execution of skills.
Have your cheerleader’s take their shoes off, then have them sit in a straddle or a pike and point their toes. You may notice many have a common problem. If not shown how to properly point the feet, most athletes curl their toes, which flattens the arch and creates too much tension in the back of the ankle in the Achilles tendon. Have you ever had athlete’s complain about pointing their toes in their cheer shoes? Or that it even hurts in the back in their Achilles when they do? That is a good sign that they are not executing proper toe point. The image shown is the incorrect way to point your toes.
Here is a helpful Step by Step Exercise for proper toe point by danceclass.com
1. Start by sitting in a comfortable straddle or pike position with relaxed feet.
2. Now tighten your leg muscles flexing your feet and pulling your toes toward you. It’s ok if your heels come off the floor. Your legs should be straight and tight.
3. While keeping your leg muscles activated and taut, push the balls of your feet away from you (as if you are pushing hard on a gas pedal). Your heels may rest on the floor during this part of the exercise. Do not loosen your leg muscles. Keep them activated and keep your legs straight and tight. Bend your ankles as far as you can, keeping them in line and not allowing them to curve inward or outward.
4. Now while still keeping the leg muscles tight, slowly extend your toes away from you. Do not allow your toes to curl up or crunch together, instead focus on making them an extension of the curves of your feet. Stretch them as far as you can making the longest lines possible.
A correctly point foot is stretched through the ankle, the arch and carried down into the toes. It’s about stretching and tensing every muscle in your leg as well to create clean body lines. When you execute proper toe point it shows in every aspect of a skill. Have a Level 1 athlete with a walkover with bent legs and poor form? Take a look at their toe point and if they are using proper technique to point their feet and activating the muscles up the leg to keep them straight. Have a Level 2 athlete with a back handspring with poor form and bent legs? Visit our handstand article here Heart of Cheer Handstand Technique. Examine their toe point. Practice executing proper toe point and activating the leg muscles to keep them straight, tight and together while throwing handsprings over a barrel or other training aid until the correction has been made and is consistent, then return the skill to the floor.
Proper toe point is not only essential in tumbling, but also in hitting stunt positions and in jumps as well. The cherry on the top of that heel stretch or scorpion is having clean lines and a properly pointed toe. To have clean lines and synchronized jumps, every athlete must be on point with straight legs and proper toe point throughout.
Have a great cheer season!