Stunting is one of the most astounding and quickly evolving parts of cheerleading, but it is also one of the most intricate parts of the sport. Stunting requires a high degree of team work and the cooperation of at least two people, but in many cases four or more cheerleaders. Many times, when outsiders watch a stunt they will automatically credit or blame the flyer for the stunt’s success or failure, but in all actuality each person within the stunt serves equal importance. It is easy to illustrate the importance of each role by comparing stunting to a beautiful planted flower. The flower itself would represent the flyer. Most of the time, the flower attracts the majority of attention and is the focus whether the plant is just beginning to bloom or starting to wither. The bases are represented by the roots of the plant. Serving as a solid foundation for the flower to grow strong and although often unseen without the roots the flower would not survive. The backspot position can be compared to the sod or ground packed in around the flower holding everything together, cementing the bases and flyers into one cohesive unit.
This article will focus on the basics of basing and provide beginner bases (and potentially remind experienced bases) with tips to help establish a foundation that will allow them to progress to the ranks of advanced basing with ease.
When it comes to basing there are three rules that will help to build a solid foundation for any base.
The first rule is one that every base no matter the experience level should adhere to at all times.
Rule #1 – Protect the Flyer… Trust is a must! The relationship between a flyer and his or her bases is one that must be rooted in trust. Performing tricks far above the ground with a lack of trust in the people underneath you often creates a situation where the flyer can not perform at his or her best and hesitation while flying often leads to injury. In stunting, there are moves that must be performed in fractions of a second and late movements will disrupt the entire process. Essentially, confident bases and flyers are a must.
Stunting also involves a lot of trial and error there doesn’t exist a flyer who has never fallen from a stunt, especially when learning new skills. It is critical that a flyer know that no matter the outcome of the stunt the bases are going to do everything in their power to catch them. As a coach, it is important that your team understand the seriousness behind this issue. Improper stunting can be life threatening. Before stunting ever begins, it is a good idea to sit down with your team members and discuss why it so important to be a proactive stunter and how to develop these foundations of trust. There should also be consequences when a flyer hits the ground. Again, a flyer falling to the ground can be life threatening, so even if the flyer is not injured or even phased by the fall it still important to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability to all parties involved.
Rule #2 – A bases power and strength comes from the legs. At first glance it would appear that a base would need to be doing push ups for hours at a time to support their flyer, but in truth a base using proper technique paired with a flyer who holds their own weight should really be relying on their legs to do most of the work. For example, consider a base who is about to perform a show and go (In a show and go the bases take the flyer from a ready (or squish) position to fully extended and immediately return the flyer to the beginning position. The flyer is literally fully extended for only one count). To begin this stunt bases should have their feet shoulder width apart, thus allowing their leg strength to be maximized. Additionally, bases arms and elbows should be close in toward the body. This closeness will allow for an explosion of power from the legs to help catapult the flyer. The further away your arms are from the body the less likely you are to be able to utilize the power from your legs. To control the force of this incredibly fast stunt a base must return to a deep squat to best absorb the momentum. Attempting to use your arms, as opposed to your legs to propel these types of stunts usually results in a base trying to compensate with other muscles to gain control of the stunt. Overtime most bases who make this error will end up with back problems. Another great example of how important the legs are in stunting is basket tosses. Again, having your feet shoulder width apart is going to maximize your leg strength. Often times bases attempt to throw their using solely their arms and the flyer will barely make it above their heads. This stunt in particular will produce immediate soreness in the back if repeatedly done incorrectly. When bases fully utilize their leg power you will see them explode off the ground when the flyer is released from the basket. If you would like to see some incredible baskets and basing techniques check out some of the youtube videos of Top Gun’s Large Senior Co-ed Squads. As an organization, Top Gun routinely produces incredible stunts and baskets highlighting fantastic basing techniques.
Speaking of technique…
Rule #3 is technique always beats muscle. It is important to always learn the technique behind a stunt. It is much easier to do it correctly than to attempt to muscle a stunt up. Work smarter, not harder. A few tips for maintaining good technique while basing are listed below. Following these tips make basing a breeze!
1. When performing an extended stunt, lock your arms out immediately. Bent arms make the weight of a stunt feel much heavier.
2. When performing stunts at prep (or chest level) keep your elbows and arms as close to the body as possible. Additionally, your flyer’s feet (if doing a stunt where both legs are down) should never be further than shoulders width apart).
3. Maintain eye contact with your flyer’s body at all times. This allows you to anticipate movement and potential falls.
4. Allow the toe of the flyers shoe to completely fill the palm of your hand using only your fingers to tightly squeeze their toes (Ask your flyer first, but many flyers are most comfortable when their toes are being very tightly squeezed, it tends to help them counterbalance).
5. Communicate with your flyer and other bases within your stunt during the stunt. Do not yell at each other, but you can speak adjustments that need to be made… for instance, “Lock it out” may remind a flyer to lock out their base leg.
6. When double basing a stunt, share the weight. You are both there for a reason.
7. Keep your feet rooted in the ground. Movement beneath a flyer is magnified much more in the air compared to what is felt on the ground.
8. Allow your flyer to make adjustments… don’t try to make them for him or her because that often results in multiple adjustments being made and still ending up at square one.
9. When cradling catch high. The higher you catch a flyer the more time you have to absorb the weight. Your arms should be fully extended in anticipation of your flyers arrival.
10. When popping for a cradle never bend your arms. You lose all of your power the moment you bend your arms. Locked out arms allow the power from your legs to be transferred all the way through the arms.
11. Exude confidence… it’s contagious. Confidence is half the battle in stunting.