How to Do a Toe Touch

Three Methods:Preparing for a Toe TouchPerforming the Toe TouchImproving a Toe Touch

The toe touch is a classic cheerleading move. You'll basically need to jump from a crouch as you raise and spread your legs. This trick shows up in a lot of standard cheerleading and gymnastic routines, so it may help to learn it sooner rather than later. Read on to learn how to do a toe touch!

Method 1
Preparing for a Toe Touch

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    Understand the toe touch jump. In order to execute this standard gymnastic move, you'll need to swing your arms down and bend your legs into a crouch, then spring up into the air with a sharp motion. You will extend your arms in a "T," and you will spread and raise your legs in a sort of aerial "splits." You'll reach toward your toes, but you don't need to actually touch them. Beyond practicing the move itself, you can prepare for a successful toe touch by stretching all of the muscles and tendons that you will use: your quads, your calves, your back, your arms, your shoulders.
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    Touch your toes. This basic stretch is sometimes referred to as a "toe touch" as well, and it is a great way to prepare yourself for the cheerleading "toe touch" move. Start by standing with your feet together, your back straight, and your hands hanging loosely at your sides. Bend forward at the waist, and reach your hands down toward your toes. Reach as far as you can, then hold your arms and hands steady where they fall. Gradually bend and unbend at the waist, reaching further down each time, until you can touch your toes.
    • Be sure to keep your knees straight. Bending your knees will make it easier to touch your toes, but it won't help you build flexibility.
    • You may not be able to touch your toes on the first day, or at all. Everyone's body is different. Even if you can't physically touch your toes, however, the act of reaching further and further toward the ground should improve your flexibility.
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    Do jumping jacks. Dynamic stretching is one of the best ways to prepare for an active move like the toe touch. Jumping jacks are relatively easy to do, and they simulate some of the motions that you'll go through as you execute your toe touch. Try to snap sharply through the jumping jacks – you want to be tight and precise, not loose and sloppy.
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    Stretch first. Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Then, slowly spread your legs into a "V," as far as they will go without lifting them from the ground. Gently reach your arms down toward one foot, and lean into the stretch as far as feels comfortable. Touch your toe and hold it for 10-60 seconds. Then, straighten back up and repeat with the other foot.[1]
    • After you've stretched each side, try bending your torso forward and extending your arms down the center of the leg "V." Then, try bending forward with one arm reaching down each leg. Hold and repeat these poses until you no longer feel tight.
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    Stretch your hip flexors. You'll need to rotate your hips backward as you jump in order to spread your legs in the way you want. Build strength in your hip joints before you try to toe touch to reduce the risk of pulling a muscle. Sit on the ground with your legs spread and your back straight, and place one hand by each knee. Then, point your toes and raise your legs a few inches off of the ground.[2]
    • Do not hold this stretch for long. Lift your legs, then lower them – then lift them again, then lower them. Perform 10 repetitions of the lift-lower cycle, then give yourself a short break before continuing.
    • Work your hip flexors every couple of days to build power and flexibility. This is one of the most important motions that you'll need for your toe touch. Take it seriously!

Method 2
Performing the Toe Touch

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    Begin with your arms above your head. Reach up and wide in a high "V," or clasp your hands straight above your shoulders. Prepare to swing your arms down for momentum. This motion should build the power that you need to jump higher.
    • You can also start by holding your hands together in front of your chest. If you are performing the toe touch as part of a routine, however, it'll make most sense to swing your arms up first.
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    Swing your arms in and down. Bring your hands together in one smooth motion, straight out in front of your body. Bend your knees into a slight crouch. Rest your weight on the balls of your feet, as a springboard for the jump.[3] Clench your fists and let them hang down before your knees – ready to swing back up.[4]
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    Snap into a "T." Swing your arms up and out into a "T" position at your sides. Try to "snap" sharply into shape; the motion should be tight and precise, not fluid and loose. Your arms should form a crisp angle: straight out from the shoulders, perfectly parallel to the ground, and perpendicular to your torso. Keep your fists clenched. As you form the "T," begin to rise up out of your half-crouch.[5]
    • You may be told to lower your arms in order to bring your legs higher. Don't bother. It will just make your form look sloppy.
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    Jump. As your arms reach the level of the "T," use the momentum of the arm swing to burst up into the air. Jump off of the balls of your feet, and keep your toes pointed. Try to make the leap a fluid motion: from crouch to "T" to jump.
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    Spread your legs as you jump. As soon as you leave the ground, swing your feet out wide. Roll your hips backward to expose your inner thighs. Try to bring your feet slightly higher than your hips.[6]
    • The rolling motion may happen naturally, but noticing the way that it feels might help you gain more control over your technique.
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    Reach for your toes. At the same time as you spread your legs, reach your arms out toward your toes. Bend forward slightly, if that helps. Don't worry about actually touching your toes – just reach down your legs as far as you can. At the "top" or zenith of the toe touch jump, you should reach perfect toe-touching form.[7]
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    Snap back down. From the top of your jump, snap your arms and legs back together as you begin to fall to the ground. Land with your feet together, your knees slightly bent, your back straight, your fists held in front of your knees, and your arms extended fully forward. Hold this position for a moment, then stand up straight. You have completed a toe touch!

Method 3
Improving a Toe Touch

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    Practice with resistance bands. If you have access to resistance bands, wrap these loose rubber loops around your ankles as you work on your toe touch. Then, try to perform your toe touches as normal. It will be much harder to fully extend your legs. However, the bands will bring your legs back together more quickly once they're spread, which might help you perfect the sharp "snapping" motion.[8] As an added bonus, this should strengthen your legs.
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    Count time as you toe touch. If you are going to be doing a toe touch as part of a cheerleading or gymnastics routine, you'll probably need to do it to the beat of a song. Try giving each "position" of the toe touch a number from one through eight. On 1 and 2, keep your hands clasped in front of you; on 3, swing into the 'high "V"' pose, and hold it through 4; on 5, snap down into the crouch; on 6, begin your jump and swing your arms into the "T"; on 7, hit the peak of your jump; and land on the count of 8.
    • Listen to a short section of the song on loop, and try to figure out the tempo – the number of beats per minute (BPM). Count to eight in your head as the song loops: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Try to reach each position of the toe touch in time with the beat of the song.
    • Even if you aren't doing a toe touch to a song, the act of counting might help you space out the movements. Practice counting in your head until you do not need to think about the numbers separately from the positions.
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    Work on your toe touch every day. The best way to improve is to practice regularly. Stretch before and after to build strength and flexibility. Make sure that you have plenty of room to perform the full jump!
    • Consider practicing the move in front of a mirror so that you can analyze and improve your form. Otherwise, try working on your form with a partner, for feedback – perhaps a coach, a friend, or another member of your gymnastics/cheer team.

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Categories: Gymnastics