Mastering cheerleading stunt progressions is crucial for the safety of your team. Fortunately, once you get to the elite level, few things will be able to stop you if you master these cheerleading stunts. So let’s dive in with the stunts, drills, and variations.
Elite Cheerleading Stunt Skills
The extension is a crucial building block for cheerleading stunts. It begins like the elevator prep. The two bases will bend their knees and offer their hands for the flyer’s feet. The flyer will step in or jump into their hands into a sponge or load-in position. The backspot will lift the flyer in with the waist then go to the ankles. Once both of the flyer’s feet are in the bases hands, they will dip and lift her all the way up with their arms extended above their heads as their hands turn to grip the toe and heel of the flyer.
The dismount is a sponge, cradle, or pop down. The sponge is simply taking a small dip for timing and going back to the loaded position. We will cover the cradle next, but a pop down is when the bases dip and toss the flyer. She comes down feet first with the bases and backspot slowing her descent.
Variations: Walk-in extension, quick toss to extension, hitch, prep sponge extension, half up extension, show-n-go
Drills: hang drill, sponge drill, timing drill
Full Down Cradle
A full twisting cradle is a fun dismount that adds a little bit of flair and difficulty to your cheerleading stunt sequences. It can be done from extension or elevator prep as well as one-legged stunts such as liberties. I’ve even seen it from a gut and thigh stand before which is a fun way to teach spinning and spice up some of your easy stunts.
For the bases and back spotter, it works just like a regular cradle dismount. They will dip and throw at the same pace. The flyer will reach up, riding the toss to the very top, then lower her arm to her left side and look over her left shoulder which should initiate the spin. She’ll also need to lean back just a little as she would in a typical cradle.
Drills: Barrel roll, cradle pop, timing drill
Variations: For some one-legged stunts, the spin will be a 1 1/4 spin, other variations include the double down which is two full spins (however, that is being considered illegal at the high school level now)
The liberty is a one-legged, extended stunt. They look great, but they are also often a challenge for flyers and bases since they shift the balance and the grips from the ones they are accustomed to. The main base will grip like normal. The side base will grip under the foot in between the other bases hands with her right hand. Her left hand can go on top to control the rolling of the foot, if that’s a problem your flyer has, or on the wrist of the main base to assist the front. The back spotter starts with her right hand on the flyer’s ankle and the left hand on the seat of the flyer. The flyer puts her hands on her bases shoulders and offers her right foot only.
Once the flyer is in load position, everyone will dip together. The bases will stand up, extending their arms fully. The back spotter will push the seat of the flyer to help her stand up then put her left hand on the ankle as well. The flyer will need to step and lock her leg immediately. When the stunt hits, the flyer should have a completely locked out right leg and her left knee pulled up with the foot resting next to her right knee and the left thigh flat across the top.
The dismount can be a cradle or sponge. The sponge involves the stunt coming down precisely as it went up. The bases dip and sponge, the flyer steps back keeping the weight over her right foot, and the back spot will keep the right hand on the ankle and place the left on the flyer’s seat to slow her descent.
Drills: Step lock, Prep-level liberty
Variations: Arabesque, Heel Stretch, Scorpion, Torch, Scale
A basket toss is perhaps the most crowd-pleasing stunt out there. They are easy, in some respects, but they are an elite stunt because when they have the potential to go terribly wrong. It is crucial to go through all of the steps at the right time to make this stunt work, but when you get it, the crowd will go wild!
Both bases will grasp their own left wrist with their own right hand. Then their left hand will grasp the right wrist of the other base. This creates a woven appearance which earns the name “basket.” The flyer will step in or jump in, whichever is most comfortable. The back spotter will help the flyer step into the stunt by holding the waist then place her hands under the basket to lift. Also a front spot can be used to increase height of the toss. They will also need to go under the basket and push all the way through.
To perform the stunt, the bases will dip as the flyer gets in. They will quickly extend their arms maintaining the “basket” until the very top where they release to complete the toss. The flyer gets in and stands up as the basket goes up, reaching to the ceiling to ride the toss to the top where she’ll hit her skill. The back spotter and front spotter both move up with the basket and push through the hands of the bases. The catch is a cradle catch. The front spot will step to the side, and the flyer, bases, and back spotter all catch like normal.
Drills: Trophy drill
Variations: Toe touch, tuck open, pike open, kick, scissor kick, full twist, star, and many more
Elite Cheerleading Stunt Drills
Step Lock Drill
A step lock drill is the first part of a double base thigh stand. The bases both take their side lunge stance, and the flyer steps and locks out her legs one at a time–making sure to lock the leg completely before stepping down and completing the drill on the other side.
A hang drill prepares a flyer to load in properly. The back spot will assist her in and she will lock out her arms on the bases’ shoulders and hold a load position without the aid of bases.
The sponge position is the same as the hang drill, but this time the bases get to practice their positions. It might be good to try some sponge bounces to get their timing together as well.
A cradle pop involves the bases and back spot holding the flyer in the finish position of a cradle. They will dip and toss the flyer in between them but above their shoulders. The flyer will go from the “v” position to a flat body position by pushing her hips forward. She may assist with the toss by pushing off of the bases’ shoulders at the beginning. The back spot will toss from under the armpits and catch like normal. I suggest doing this several times in a row to ensure consistent technique from each cheerleader.
A timing drill is very simple. The bases and back spot demonstrate the elevator prep position (or other stunt position) without a flyer. They then practice the motions of the desired stunt to ensure consistency of speed and technique before using a flyer.
The trophy drill is a drill specifically for a basket toss. It involves loading for the basket toss, extending upwards with the flyer standing then returning to the sponge position without tossing. It helps with timing and body positions, but it is painful so keep it to a minimum.
The log roll is for the full down cradle. The flyer starts in a cradle position. Her bases toss her, and she complete a full twist horizontally before she catches in a cradle once more.
The prep-level liberty works exactly like an extended liberty except the bases will stop at shoulder level. This gives the flyer the chance to adjust to standing quickly and allows the back spotter to provide additional support by grasping higher on the flyer’s leg.