I Believe that everybody is pretty much familiar with the word “Stunt” because we all being in touch to some extent means by watching theater, television or movies and it is a very common word and feature use in action movies. But I would still like to define and elaborate this word as the first step of my article and draw a clear vision and then move on to my actual target Cheer Stunts.
A stunt is an unusual, exciting and dangerous act require a specially skilled person who can take a risk and perform to get rectify and gain publicity. Still, I have to do some touch bases and then jump to a real topic because Cheer Stunts have some history and it linked to Cheerleading.
Cheer means to motivate and encourage someone by praising and shouting with joy and Cheerleading is an activity in which participants known as cheerleaders perform an organized athletic skill, dance and chanting to motivate and cheer their sports team and to amuse the audience.
The Beginning of Cheer Stunts
Basically cheerleading performance initiated to stimulate and build the team strength at the beginning of the game plus waving the pompoms on the sideline to attract the crowd but later on when stunting became a part of chanting and cheering it leads cheerleading itself toward a competition and cheerleaders found a new platform to show their talent and get recognized with unique innovations.
Cheerleading originated in the US at the school level. And the cheer stunting, a guy named Lawrence Herkimer played a vital role to make it popular. He founded a place known as cheerleading camp where he works on creating and teaching new stunts and finally distribute to all cheerleading teams.
Trust and communication is the key factor of cheer stunt because every athlete relies upon and link to other.
Types of Cheer Stunts
There is a number of cheer stunts which cheerleader add to their routines for more excitement whether they performing at the school level to cheer the team and audience or in competition for scoring. To be a part of cheer stunts ones have to be physically fit to carry out demanding acrobatic performances.
To be the best in cheer stunts you have to be best in basics means that you don’t really have to perform advanced nature stunt to impress the audience, a simple but well performed can capture the attention easily. Once you had a full command of beginner’s stunts than later on, you can move to an advance and challenging stunts.
Athletes involve in cheerleading stunts work as a group and the presence of each person is really important, if anyone is missing then the stunt cannot be performed or practiced. Trust and communication is the key factor of cheer stunt because every athlete relies upon and link to other. It can be elaborate further by explaining cheerleader’s positions.
Bases are those cheerleaders who stand on the ground and hold the flyers and provide primary support to them while performing the cheer stunts. They are the responsible persons who going to keep an eye on flyers to make sure that they are is safe hands and also keep an eye contact with other bases to be on one pace. Bases are not gendered conscious means it can be either male or female but are assure that athletes who are going to stand on those positions must be a strong cheerleader of the squad.
Holds majority part of the flyer’s foot and stand straight under the flyer by bearing most of her weight. To stabilize, the main base will lift his/her heel and toe of the foot up from the ground from moving forward or backward in one leg extension stunt. The main base is known as a powerhouse in one-legged stunt because he or she carries 80% of the weight of flyer. They hold the flyer foot from toe to heel by forming a cup shape hand under their foot to provide the more stable platform to jump.
It is also identified as a side base and use in the one-legged stunt where he/she hold the flyer’s foot from the middle /arch of the foot to throw and catch the flyer while main base griping to spin the flyer.
It is also called as pony mount and it can be the first stunt to start with. For details or if anyone interested need to get professional training.
Photo by Adam Burke
Back spot is the position where cheerleader stands behind the cheer stunts to ensure the safety of the flyer. Back spot person attentively observes the Flyer’s shoulder and hip to watch the leaning position of the flyer and work as a barrier between the flyer and the ground in case of any unwanted event. They boost up the flyer in one leg stunt plus stabilize their ankles and also have the responsibility to do the count for the stunt.
This is the position where cheerleader stands in front of the stunt facing back toward the audience for preventing flyer to fall forward. A front spot is an optional support which cheerleader normally use as an extra help when they require to lift the flyer for higher jumps such as basket toss. This position usually assigns to those people of the squad who are not quite flexible to be a flyer.
This person is used as a safety precaution in the stunt. He/she just stand beside, front or behind the stunt to observe the flyer and rush into the stunt in case of any mishap. This position in the stunt usually stay vacant but it occupied when they working on some new stunts or cheerleaders are new to each other in the group.
Double Thigh Stand
This is the most important beginner stunt and one should learn this essential because it is the base to create numerous cheer stunts.
Thigh Stand Variation
Once you get a perfect hold on Double thigh stand then u can play around and execute various variations.
This stunt use can use by itself or you can attach with double thigh stand.
Basic and Advanced Cheerleading Stunts
The level of cheerleading motions toward the high jumps varies and restrict to some extent to the schools, for example, the junior school’s cheerleaders are not allowed to perform difficult stunt due to the risk of injury, same goes to high school and so on. Anyway, the advance cheers stunts are mainly the extensions of the basics so every cheerleader needs to be a master in their nuts and bolts if they looking forward their career as a cheerleader, Following are some of the easy stunts that beginners can perform but it can be dangerous so the presence of supervisor is obligatory.
Photo by Denise Wauters
Can be well explained through the picture
Can be carried out by two cheerleaders but if you want you can use the front spotter.
Based on double thigh stands to perform L standing stunt.
The base holds the thigh of the flyer tile he/she heard from the back spotter to release.
Advanced Cheerleading Stunts
Synchronization and trust among the team members play an important role to perform an advanced proficient stunt and it does take some time when the cheerleader are new to each other and of course the practice makes the man perfect. I will mention the names of some stunts such as toss to hands, chair, ground up full, liberty, scorpion, bow, and arrow, Superman, basket toss, pyramids, kick basket toss and many more because the cheerleader squads can come up with any practical idea and then they all can work on it under the supervision.
Cheerleading Guideline/Rules and Safety
As we all know that when cheerleading originated it was not introduced as a sport so there was not a certain set of rules and regulation but now cheerleading has grown into a sport which demands more strength and gymnastic skills with the risk of injuries.
The AACCA (American Association of Cheerleading Coached and Administrator) have designed a safety program which includes some general guidelines for cheerleading such as
- Trained by a qualified coach or advisor
- Practice should be supervised and carried out in a safe environment.
- Each team member should be accessed to check the capability of individuals to plan the stunts according to their level.
- Jewelry should not be allowed
- Professional training in spotting should be compulsory
- Warm up routine should be carried out by the supervisor before and after the game
- Right surfaces should be used for pyramids, tumbling, partner stunts and jumps
- Evaluation of individuals should be done quite often to keep a track that they have mastered the skills
Cheerleading initiated in 1898 and since then it start earning popularity plus technical complexity involves gymnastic tumbling and complex high flying stunts that put these athletes at the high risk for injuries.
Research shows that Pediatric lately exposed that cheerleading injuries are more severe as compared to other sport plays at high schools such as football, basketball, volleyball etc. The most common injuries are
The most frequent type of injury occur in cheer stunts is the ankle sprain which usually takes place when the flyer unable to balance herself and land on the outside of the foot and twisting ankle inside. Use rice treatment straight away to reduce the swelling but if athletes feel severe pain and cannot walk on the twisted ankle then need to consult the doctor because it is common to have bone injuries rather than ligament especially in younger athletes, so X-Ray might require.
Normally occur when cheerleader lands awkwardly from a jump which might tear the ligament and you will feel a sudden pain. Knee injury must be looked after properly because it takes time to heal and can get worst if not being looked after. There are some other knee injuries can happen too due to the overuse of knee such as patellar tendonitis very obvious in such kind of jumping sport.
Wrist and Elbow Injuries
While performing tumbling moves flyers support the whole weight of the body on the wrist and elbow which can end up in an injury and same applies to the cheerleaders standing in the bases to support the flyers. In this situation the ligament tear, wrist fracture can take place but it happens mostly when falling on the outstretched hand.
Falling from the height leads to vertebrae fracture and severity depends on what sort of damage happens to the vertebrae. Usually, it causes spine instability which requires an operation and once the surgery is done, the cheerleader would not be able to continue her/his career in cheerleading.
If the cheerleader while performing accidentally fall and during the fall if its head hits the ground, an injury called concussions can occur disrupt normal brain function on the temporary or permanent basis.
Photo by John Martinez Pavliga
Cheer stunts are not an easy task, it requires plenty of practice to learn and polish the stunt to get the best out of it on the day of competition. Most cheerleaders have a uniform with the school logo to represent their school for the day but as I mentioned that they need regular practice so uniform cannot be worn on daily bases otherwise it will be ruined. During regular practice, it is advisable to have comfortable and breathable clothes such as microfiber pants and tops because they are very flexible plus its wick away your sweat and keep you cool during the practice. Cheer stunts are the activity that requires maximum movement so Soffe shorts introduced because it has maximum stretchability.
Some routines and dances that include gymnastic techniques barefoot are preferable but you can wear running shoes with anti-slip sole. Once you join the cheerleading, the coach will guide you in details about their requirement. Hair needs to tie up nicely so it does not play a hurdle role while practicing or performing.