Stunting and Safety: Who’s Responsible?

Cheerleaders at the college and high school level often perform impressive feats. Do you ever wonder how cheerleaders perform particular stunts so flawlessly and seemingly effortlessly? Three major positions are responsible for the synchronization required to safely pull off cheerleading aerial stunts.

Spotter

The spotter is the most important position in terms of cheerleading safety. He or she calls the movements or tricks and assists the flyer into the lift or launch. Spotters must stabilize the pyramid in those tense moments immediately preceding a stunt. They also must catch a flyer, preventing falls. About 66 percent of all catastrophic injuries in high school or college athletes were from cheerleading accidents last year. A spotter, also known as the scoop, should always be attentive to the flyer during a stunt. Therefore, a spotter must be alert with great attention to details, assertive, and physically strong. Spotters may be taller even than the base people. Nevertheless, they must be able to react with lightning speed. They must be able to fearlessly catch flyers with no regard for pain or injury to themselves. Confidence in their spotters is crucial for flyers’ successful execution of stunts. One tip essential for spotters is to always keep contact with flyers until they take off. Also, if you or the base attempt to catch a fall at the highest point you can, you will slow the descent. Therefore, if there is a fall, it will be much less serious.

Base

The base is like the foundation of a pyramid. The people who form the base of a cheerleading squad lift and launch the flyers and provide the main support. Skills are just as important for the base as they are for flyers and spotters. Intuitively, people in the base need to be strong and big enough to lift someone else. Often there will be a significant size differential between flyers and the base, but skill can compensate if there is not. An important tip is to keep a straight back. Strengthen your core as well as your arms and legs. Timing is as important for participants in the base as it is for flyers. You must provide the utmost stability, best-achieved by forming a congruent line from shoulders to hips to feet. As the base, you must be focused and ever-alert. If the spotter misses a cue for whatever reason, it is your job to catch the flyer. An excellent drill is to practice many movements without going through with lifting or throwing the flyer. This fine-tunes synchronicity for the real deal.

Flyer

A flyer, as the name would suggest, gets lifted, thrown, or tossed through the air. The flyer may very well be seen as the star of the show. A flyer must be a confident and self-assured person. Self-esteem is not enough, though. Flyers must be trusting of their spotters and the base. In turn, people in the other major positions of the team must be able to trust their flyer. It is very similar in that respect to other team lifting sports like ice dancing. Moreover, other requirements of a flyer’s personality are accurate timing and fearlessness when it comes to heights. Your responsibilities to your team as a flyer are to have excellent body tone and control so you can maintain your balance. Maintaining physical fitness and core strength is as crucial for a flyer as for the base. It is easier to hold someone who is poised without being rigid. You also need great flexibility and body awareness in space. There are exercises available for flyers to improve these skills. Finally, a flyer should be extroverted, for it is his or her duty to engage the fans with eye contact and smiles.

Although seen as the more frivolous and light-hearted side of sports, cheerleading requires as much fitness, discipline, organization, and focus on safety as other athletic endeavors. Whether you are a spotter, part of the base, or a flyer, you must hone your skills and fulfill your roles to ensure the safe execution of dazzling cheerleading tricks.

To perfect your cheerleading skills, consider enrolling in one of our classes!