List of cheerleading stunts
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Stunts are defined as building performances displaying a person's skill or dexterity. Stunting in cheerleading has been previously referred to as building pyramids. Stunts range from basic two-legged stunts, to one-legged extended stunts, and high flying basket tosses. There are numerous variations of each stunt with multiple entries and dismounts out of the stunt. Stunts vary at each level (level 1–6 according to the USASF). Each level increases the difficulty of the stunt. There are two recognized styles of stunting: coed and all-girl. Cheerleading teams are restricted to specific stunt rules based on the guidelines of certain associations and organizations. Therefore, some stunts may be permitted in certain divisions but illegal in others due to the different stunt regulations. The level of difficulty depends on where the teams stunt and practice as well as the organization they are a part of since cheer associations want to maintain the safety of the cheerleaders by restricting them to try stunts that are too advanced for their level.
A "group stunt" will typically involve a flyer, two bases (one main and one secondary), and a back spot, or occasionally include a front spot. A "partner stunt" will involve two athletes: one flyer and one base. A third athlete, a spotter, will be involved depending upon the skill level of the stunt executed and the rules and regulations for that skill.
Also known as a "top girl", the flyer is lifted into the air during a stunt and is on top of the stunt or pyramid. Because many of the body positions a flyer can perform require a high level of flexibility, this is a desired trait for the role. Flyers are also typically the shorter and leaner people on the team, but other members can act as a flyer depending on their abilities and the needs of the team.
Bases are the athletes that hold the flyer or top girl in the air during the stunt. Bases are very strong and are usually assigned together based on height to create a level platform for the flyer to perform an action.
This base supports the majority of the flyer's foot and weight. In a one-leg extension stunt, the main base will lift the toe and heel of the foot to increase stability and prevent the flyer from tilting forward or backward and will be almost directly under the stunt.
This position can also be referred to as "side base". The secondary bases help lift the flyer up into the air and support the flyer's foot.
Spotters are additional athletes whose primary responsibility is to watch the stunt and assist the flyer in the case of a fall or accident. Their main goal is to protect the flyer's head and neck from injury. Spotter involvement can range from nearly constantly holding the stunt, such as a back spot, to standing at the back of a cheerleading routine should an incident occur.
The back spot is also called a "third", and gets their name by standing behind the stunt. They will organize a stunt by calling out its name and the necessary counts to ensure group synchronization. Additionally, the back spot will actively stabilize the stunt, commonly supporting or lifting the flyer's ankles, calves, thighs, or buttocks. Due to the back spot's responsibilities, they are generally the tallest members of the stunt group.
Similar to the helping role of a back spot, the front spot will support and stabilize the stunt from the front. They are fairly rare, as most stunts are designed to be performed without one, but are sometimes added due to weaker bases or an uneven number of athletes.
Additional spots are typically used as a safety precaution, such as when a group is trying new or difficult stunts. Generally, they will only help the stunt if it shows serious signs of falling.
Types of stunts
This stunt uses both bases, a backspot, and a flyer. Sometimes a front spot.
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- A stunt in which the flyer stands on two bases' hands and is risen up to chest or chin height. The flyer may put her arms up into a high V.[verification needed] To enter into this skill, the bases should be apart no farther than the length of their flyer. They will then place their hands like an open book in front of them and dip together. The most common way that this is done is with the back spot to count, "One, two." The bases dip together on the “two” count and push through the legs and arms. The flyer's feet should be at the bases' chins in this stunt. An extension prep is the same thing as a prep but now the bases' and back spots arms are fully extended straight up. Keep in mind that for the flyer to be comfortable and stable in this stunt the bases should be spaced very close to together in order for the flyer's legs to be shoulder width apart. An elevator is a cheerleading stunt where both the bases start in the same position as a normal prep, but they are bent down more with their hands open like a book touching the ground. The flyer then steps into the bases hands, and the flyer slowly starts rising into the air, hence the name "elevator."
- Cupie or Awesome
- The Cupie is a partner stunt in which the flyer's feet are together, in one fully extended hand of a single base or with one foot each in the hands of a base. In a partner stunt, the difference between a cupie and an awesome has to do with what the male is doing with his free hand. If the free hand is on the hip then it is a cupie, if the free hand is in a high V then it is an awesome.
- Extension or Full
- In an Extension, the flyer stands with each foot in the hands of a base while her arms are in an extended overhead position. The back can either hold the ankles of the flyer, or support the wrists of the bases depending on state rules. In a single-based stunt, the base will hold both of the flyer's feet above his or her head, with their arms locked. The flyer must also be stable and confident in the air and also must lock their legs.
- Split-lift or Teddy Sit
- The flyer is in a seated straddle with the two side bases holding one hand on her thigh and one on her ankle/foot. The back base holds up her butt with her hands and holds most of the weight.[clarification needed] This stunt is sometimes called a straddle sit. The flexibility of the flyer is tested in this stunt because the appearance and the impressiveness of this stunt depends on how far apart the bases can spread the flyer's legs to create a better visual appearance. Along with that, flyer needs to keep their legs straight to help their bases and make sure their butt doesn't sag to not put too much pressure on the back spot.
- Thigh stand
- A thigh stand is one of the simplest stunts. The bases kneel on one leg or are in a lunge position with their front knees bent in order to make it easier for the flyer to stand. The bases have their feet touching each other by the sides of their shoes. The back spot will hold the flyer at the waist. She will then jump onto the pocket of the bases' thighs. The bases will then grasp their far hand on the toe of the flyer's foot and the closet arm around their leg and keep it close to their bodies so the flyer is secure within the stunt.
- Shoulder stand
- In a shoulder stand, somebody stands on another person's shoulders. The base grabs their calves or ankles. To get out of this stunt, the base must pop the flyer forward catching them by their hips and slowly lowering the top to the floor.
- Shoulder sit
- In a shoulder sit, the flyer sits on the base's shoulders and wraps her feet around the base's waist. There are many ways to enter into a shoulder sit, the most common is for the base to bend one knee while the flyer stands behind the base and places one foot on the base's bent leg and puts their hands on the base's shoulders to make it easier to pop into the stunt. Once the flyer and the base are ready, they both dip on the same count and the flyer will extend their arms and wrap their other leg that was on the ground around the base's shoulder, the base will focus on getting the other leg secure on their shoulder. To exit out of this stunt, the base must hold the flyer's hands while dipping and popping them off the base's shoulders. The flyer will land on the floor behind the base.
- Leapin' Lora
- The backspot is in a "rock" position, the flyer then jumps on the back of the backspot and bounces into the bases' hands.
- The main base brings the flyers left foot to belly button level, then the side base brings her right leg to half, then the main base lifts the foot to full, and the side base lifts the right foot to full. While doing this the back base is holding the flyers ankles and is helping each base pull up. This stunt looks like the flyer is climbing up stairs and is also called 'Step Up'.
- This is when both bases have a grip on one of the flyer's feet. One base has the normal open book grip and the other base has one hand placed under the foot in-between the other bases hands, the other hand is placed on top (also called hamburger grip). When the flyer goes up in the air, they are standing on one foot with the other foot bent placed by one's knee. This stunt is called a liberty because it is meant to look like lady liberty. The flyer must want to bring the free foot into the other knee so it looks more sophisticated and classy. This is shortened to a 'lib' and is the foundation of many other stunts. In All Start cheerleading, an extended liberty stunt is Level 3. This means it can only be performed by teams competing at level 3 or higher. Level 2 may perform this stunt, but the flyer must be 'braced' by one or two prep level stunts and with arm to arm connection of the flyers. This is often seen in level 2 pyramids.
- In this stunt the flyer begins in a Liberty stunt standing on one leg, and is gently thrown so they can switch to standing on the other leg. This can be performed in a group stunt with two bases and a backspot, or dual based with two bases, or as a single based stunt with just one base underneath. The action looks visually like a quick switch of legs, and the flyer appears to effortlessly hop from one foot to another. If performed at extended level, this stunt is classed as level 5 in All Star Cheerleading. It is classed as an elite level 5 skill if the flyer simultaneously performs stretches in the air (like a heel stretch, or an arabesque) and switches feet but also through two different body positions.
- This is a fundamental position for cheerleading stunts. It is a starting level position where the flyer has their weight through straight arms on the bases shoulders, and the bases are holding the flyers feet at their torso level. A group stunt usually jumps into this sponge position before dipping to move into another stunt position. It is a 'mount' or a way of entering into a stunt. This is also known as various things; notably a smoosh, or crunch.
- The flyer begins on the floor or in a sponge, and is basically just up in the air for a second and is brought back down. This passes through prep level to exended level usually. This can be performed standing on two feet, or on one in a liberty. It is often accompanied by arm motions to provide entertainment or performance value.
The rules for cheerleading are majority of the time the same but there could also be differences at the same time, the meaning behind this is that cheerleading has different levels for this sport so for the levels like high school, college, and all-star competitive cheerleading are different rules. For instance, high school cheer has different rules for stunting like there must be more than one spotter around the stunt group, unlike college and all-star cheer. High school cheer cannot do the same level skills in stunting like college and all-star cheer because someone could get very hurt or they might not be as trained in that skill like college or all-star cheerleaders are. College and all-star cheer are also different as well college cheerleading is more of level 5 through 6 skills and college cheerleading coaches do not just want someone who can just throw these skills sometimes, the athletes must be consistent in their skills each and every day because the skills that college cheerleaders are throwing could be very dangerous and the coaches need to know that they can depend on the athletes who already know how to do the skills when asked too. All-star cheer has different levels l from 1 through 6 but all-star cheer really depends on the tumbling skill that determines what level the athlete would be on then from there the athletes would work on stunting skills. All-star also care about stunting skills as well, but the coaches think you can work on stunting skills when it comes time to do it and will try to perfect the stunting skills later in the season, the coaches are more instead in tumbling more than anything now and days. The stunting skills in all-star cheerleading depend on the level team you are on at the time, so you cannot really know what stunting skills you are doing until you make a team then that's when the coaches will ask you do the appropriate skills for that level. The rules for high school, college, and all-star competitive cheerleading are the same for the safety in the sport for all athletes.
The safety rules for the sport of cheerleading are to ensure the safety of each athlete and encompass all aspects in any given routine. The safety rules are meant to ensure the athletes are trained correctly in each aspect of the sport. Athletes may typically practice up to 2–3 hours a day when learning new skills for their routine and must always have spotters present. The coaches or at least one coach must be present at every practice, tumbling class, stunting class, and competition; if the coaches or one coach is not present, then the athletes may not practice due to the potential risk of injury.
The athletes that go in the air which is called the “flyer” must way the proper weight for the girls who are at the bottom to keep them up in the air are called the “bases”, so no one will get hurt during the process of the skill they are learning and all of the members in the stunt group must pay attention to what they are doing so no one falls or get hurt doing the skills. Another safety rule for the athletes, is the athletes must learn the skills that are appropriate for their ages and maturity level as well because it's important for everyone to do the right skill level for their correct age, so no one can get hurt. The main reason why safety rules where created is to make sure every athlete is safe and okay during their routine, game days, and practices at the end of the day.
All of the body positions can be done at prep or extension level. Lib: One (or more) base(s) holds up the flyer by the standing foot (usually the right foot) and the flyer balances weight on the standing leg. The flyer's other leg is bent at a 90-degree angle, and the toe is pointed and touching the right knee. This stunt is named for the way it looks similar to the Statue of Liberty. The name of this stunt is often shortened to 'Lib'.
- One man
- This stunt is done with one base but other bases may be present to ease mounting. The flyer begins standing in front of the base. The base grabs the cheerleader's waist and the flyer puts their hands on their base's wrists to help push off. The base counts "1, 2" and throws the flyer up as high as possible, catching the middle of her feet at either chest level or full position. There are many variations that make this an elite stunt, such as adding a spin or tuck at the base throws.
- One or more bases holds up the flyer by the right foot and the flyer balances weight on the straightened right leg. The flyer then grabs the loose foot and bends that leg upward behind the body until the toes are close to the back of the head, in a position resembling a scorpion's tail. The foot is secured in place by the opposite hand. A more advanced variation of the scorpion is the "Chin-hold," where the flyer tucks her foot underneath her own chin and holds.
- One or more bases extend right foot. The flyer's other leg is held by his/her hand to the side and the leg is fully extended. The position is similar to the Scorpion, but one of the flyer's hands holds her ankle or calf (instead of her toes) and the other arm is in the High V position. Sometimes also called a 6 o'clock, or needle. When the flyer does the scale, the flyer would want to grab by the ankle and pull her leg into the scale.
- The same thing as doing a liberty, except executed with the torso facing to the side.
- Heel stretch
- It is a stunt in which the base/bases holds one foot of the flyer while she holds the other foot in her hand and brings it beside her head. Flyer's flexibility is very important for this skill in order for the stunt to look impressive as well as the flyer to be able to hold her balance.
- Bow and arrow
- Variation of a heel stretch. The flyer grabs her left foot with the right hand, and pulls her leg straight up beside her head. Then she pulls her left arm and upper torso through the hole the leg and arm made, holding it straight. This is another skill that take an enormous amount of flexibility because the flyer needs to hold her foot above her head parallel with her body. A bow and arrow is an advanced stunt that takes much practice and preparation before the flyer can try it.
- Variation of a bow and arrow. With the left foot still held by the right hand, the flyer wraps her left arm around her leg so her hand is behind her head. Then she grabs her left hand with her right hand, pulling her straight leg closer to her face.
- A needle is a variation of a scorpion. It is when the flyer is in a scorpion but the leg you are holding is completely straight and your arms are completely straight. Before starting this stunt, it is a good idea for the bases to stretch out their flyer's back and legs by holding her chest and one of her legs and pushing them together. By doing this, the flyer will be more prepared to pull the skill in the air.
- From a lib, the flyer points their leg out behind them and attempt to turn their hip socket out so when the leg is out straight, the side of the leg is facing the audience and their arms are in a "T" position. The flyer needs to arch her back too, so her torso is semi-straight up if not, too much of her weight will be tilted downward/too far forward and so the flyer along with the rest of the stunt will fall forward. The stunt group (the cheerleaders on the bottom) are usually facing the side so the audience will see the side of the flyer's body. But the flyer should always to remember to look at the crowd even though they are not facing straight.
- A hitch is a variation of the prep or extension, usually in a pyramid. 3–5 people form a hitch pyramid. The two out-side flyers are usually on one girl's shoulders (in a shoulder sit). The two middle flyers are in an extension and give their left or right foot (depending which side) to the girl in the middle who holds the feet by her shoulders. This can also be done in a prep stunt, where one base stays at prep level and the other goes up to extension.
- No-hands/Chin Chin/Cry Baby
- The flyer takes her foot, bends it under her chin, then lets it sit there without any helping hands.
- Running table-top
- When four flyers are bent over with a flat back, like table-tops, and the other flyer that is in a half quickly runs across their backs and goes into a half on the other side
- The basis for the stunt is for the base to lift the flyer onto their palm, which they then extend upwards into a Liberty position. To enter into this stunt, the base must use proper toss technique; which is popping the flyer in the air follow through leaving the right arm extended while dropping your left arm to your chest. The top person's hips should be a couple of inches above your extended arms at the end of your toss. If the top's hips are any lower, you will catch the flyer with your arm bent and be forced to press the chair up. While the flyer is lowering down, spot for their seat and grab the left ankle for balance. Make sure to keep the right arm overhead pressed against your ear, for stability, and locked out you also want to keep the flyer's left leg in close to the body to help balance the stunt. When you catch the chair, absorb with your legs (not your arm) to take the pressure off of the landing. As a flyer, jump slightly back over your base, bend your right leg, and assume a “chair” position. In the chair, your right leg should be resting on the base's right forearm, your shoulders are directly over your hips, and your left leg should be positioned slightly in front of your hip. The flyer stunts with her arms and free leg, usually by putting her foot in a 90-degree angle making a liberty pose and her arms in a high V position.
- Pretty Girl
- When the bases put the flyer in an extended position or half, and when the flyer gets thrown into the air, the flyer puts her hand behind her head and lifts her leg into the lib position while in the air. Another way of doing this stunt is by going into a liberty position and placing your hands on your knee like a proper "pretty girl" or with one hand on your knee and the other behind your head or on your hip.
- Basket toss
- The basic basket toss is not a difficult skill, but it is one that involves significant risk if not performed properly. Flyer is thrown from a set position or also called "smush" where the flyer then hits a position with her legs in the air and her arms are extended reaching for the maximum height possible then hitting a pose or hand position then landing in a cradle position. The bases support the flyer's feet with their hands held on to one of their own wrists and one wrist of the other base. The flyer's feet are placed side by side on top of the bases' hands. The backspot is supporting the flyer by holding onto her thighs. If a front spot is used, they will place their hands underneath the basket to add height to the toss.
- Pike basket
- The flyer is thrown from an extension where she fully extends her arms by her ears, using her shoulders to set up. Then, at the peak of the toss, the flyer will bring her chest to her knees and her knees to her chest (her body is now in a folded position). Subsequently, on the way down, the flyer will then arch her back (unfold) and land in a cradle position.
- Kick-single/Double full basket
- This is an advanced level basket toss skill that is legal at the high school level. The flyer is thrown from an extension where she fully extends her arms by her ears, using her shoulders to set up. At the peak of the toss, the flyer will kick their left leg up while their arms make an “L-like” motion (left arm in a punch, right arm in candlesticks), she will spin either once or twice by wrapping her leg over and looking the way she is spinning with her head, depending on the basket. The bases and back spot wait with arms extended to catch the top girl in the cradle. They remain in the same position the entire time. After executing the body position, the flyer will snap their legs back together for the cradle. The bases will begin to slow the flyer into the cradle as soon as they make contact with her body. As they catch, they will absorb with their legs to ease the pressure of gravity coming down on them. Like a regular cradle, the flyer pikes her body, keeping her shoulders up and catching herself on her bases’ shoulders.
- Straight ride basket
- The flyer is thrown from an extension where she fully extends her arms by her ears, using her shoulders to set up. Then, the flyer will stand slightly at a diagonal. After doing this, the flyer will land in a cradle position. This is the most basic position for all basket tosses and is usually used as a warm-up for stunts groups before they actually try the harder basket tosses.
- The X-Out basket
- The flyer is thrown from a regular basket toss and does a straight ride all the way to the peak of the toss. She does a back tuck at the peak of the basket. At the last second of the back tuck the flyer opens its arms and legs wide to make an "X" shape with its body. While performing the "X" part the flyer is 180 degrees flat and face down towards the ground like superman. After the "X" part the flyer rotates its body back to a normal cradle position ready to be caught by the bases.
Two-and-a-half high stunts
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- The A-frame
- Swedish Fall
- 2-1-1 (Technically a three-high pyramid if the top flier is in an extended stunt but still considered legal)
- Table top
- Wolf wall
- Bend over
- High split
- High chair (also high hands, lib, cupie)
- "Partner Stunts" (PDF). 2014-15 AACCA College Safety Rules. AACCA. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Safety - Cheer Glossary. U.S. All Star Federation.
- "Skills and Drills - Stunting Basics". Varsity.com. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "2007-08 USASF Glossary" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- "Rules And Divisions". nca.varsity.com. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "Rules And Divisions". nca.varsity.com. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
- "Cheerleading Safety News & Resources - CheerSafe". CheerSafe: Cheerleading safety resources for coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and media. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "Skills and Drills- Coed Stunts". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "Skills and Drills - Advanced Stunts". Retrieved 23 February 2014.