The music is in, choreography done, and conditioning is complete. The only step now is to fine-tune your routine by cleaning each individual section. The term “cleaning” refers to the process of tidying up small errors or correcting choreography to ensure the routine is at its best. Doing so will help ensure that you wow the crowds and/or score well at competition. So how do you go about cleaning a routine?
The first step is to break the routine down into sections and critique its present condition honestly and thoroughly. There are major factors that should be evaluated in each respective section (and we’ll highlight some of these below), but overall you are looking for clarity, quick and smooth transitions, and a mistake-free routine. Remember, once the routine is the way you’d like it to look, repetition is key to retain this appearance.
Stunt Sequences: There are several important factors to consider when cleaning a stunt sequence with multiple stunts.
- Body position – Individually evaluate each stunt group to make sure the flyer is hitting the correct body positions at the correct time. Be mindful of the minor details like arm placements, pointed toes, and where a flyer holds for skills that require arm support.
- Timing – Every position, motion, and movement should have a designated count. Timing errors are especially noticeable when it comes to stunting.
- Stability – Stunting is hard work, but it shouldn’t look like it to the audience. It should look effortless, as if the flyer is standing on a solid surface. This means there shouldn’t be noticeable balance checks or bobbles. Again, repetition is a key component in achieving this level of stability. Continuity is equally important to establishing a trust and comfort level among group members. Avoid changing group members once the routine has been set unless absolutely necessary.
Tumbling: There are many elements within the tumbling section of your routine that will be dictated by the level of skills you are performing. The items listed below are universal when any tumbling is involved.
- Timing – Any time you have multiple people tumbling at once, timing is critical. Effect is virtually lost when cheerleaders grouped together are not capable of tumbling in unison.
- Technique – Tumbling skills should be performed only when sound technique has been mastered. This not only preserves the “wow” factor, but also prevents injury. Be sure to correct technical errors (like bent arms, separated legs, lack of set, etc.) early to ensure these errors don’t become long-time habits.
- Stamina – Conditioning your squad to build adequate stamina will help to ensure that your athletes can successfully complete their tumbling skills. This is considered part of the cleaning process because when athletes lack the necessary stamina, tumbling, which requires significant strength and endurance, is the first area to suffer. Performing your skills while winded will ensure that the skills can be completed successfully in a true performance atmosphere.
Cleaning requires a watchful eye, patience, and a little tough love. Reaffirm with your athletes the importance of constructive criticism, and be mindful to offer praise throughout the process. Your main goal should be to fine-tune your routine by eliminating existing errors or potential mistakes.