The Three Main Roles of Cheerleading
Before you embark into a new sport, the biggest question you might have is, what do you exactly need to do?
For other sports, it is often straightforward – pick up the racquet and hit the ball or chase after the ball and kick it into the goal. But for cheerleading, it is rather complicated. Different athletes who do different cheerleading positions will be required to different things depending on their roles.
The three main roles in cheerleading are the bases, the flyers and the spotters. A truly versatile cheerleader will be able to do any of these roles even though it is more common for cheerleaders to be focused to only one or two roles. However, with the breakdown of each roles, you might end up being interested in trying all three roles!
Bases are known as the foundation of any stunt – they lift the flyers up into the air! Unless, by some magical force, the flyers are able to just float in the air.
Bases generally tend to be the taller and stronger members of the team but don’t be misled! Good bases are not judged based on their size but rather, their techniques. As bases, it is important to have good techniques and form because without that, you will definitely be victim to all the unexplained aches on your body.
To have proper techniques, bases should use both their legs and arms – not just completely rely on arm strength. The majority of the strength should come from the legs. As the bases push off the ground with their legs, the momentum gained will be transfer to the shoulders then the arms, driving the stunt up. If you are a base and feel like the stunt is too heavy for you, chances are, you just have the wrong technique!
As for the form, the bases back should remain straight, never bending back or leaning forward. This is important as it ensures the momentum is transferred in a straight line from feet to hand. If your back isn’t straight, your backbone may be injured as the force will be directed there!
This is a really useful picture that illustrates how your form should be as a base!
Remember, techniques and form are equally as important as strength! Practice good techniques and form and remember to complete your strength work. It will help make the stunt tremendously easier!
Spotters are extremely similar to bases as they help lift the stunt up but what differs is their placement in the stunt. They are usually placed at the back and sometimes at the front of the stunt.
Spotters are not the primary support of the stunt but they assist the stunt by helping to make it steady or balanced. They are also the first point of contact for the flyer when they dismount or fall.
The picture on the right shows how to engage the stronger muscles for backspots.
Normally, spotters call the shot during the stunt as they have a better vision of the overall stunt compared to the flyers and bases. Being a spotter is extremely tricky – if you help too little, the bases might be overwhelmed but if you help too much, the flyer might not be able to stand!
Being a backspot myself, there were many instances where the stunt failed because of me. I always had the idea that to be a good spotter, I had to put all my strength into lifting the flyer up so that my bases would feel ‘lighter’ weight. But by doing that, it is actually detrimental to the stunt as the flyer is unable to stand on the bases hand and their balance would be affected. Being a good spot is not by lifting all the weight off the bases hand, but to help balance the flyer and ease some of the weight off your bases!
These are some pictures which provides tips that are extremely practical for both bases and spotters!
Image ,,, : Credits to Cheer Conditioning Academy and Cheermoji
Flyers are the people you see being lifted or thrown in a stunt. This role is often full of thrill and is extremely exhilarating, however, not everyone have the guts to do it!
It may seem that the easiest position in cheerleading is the flyer. Wrong! The assumption that because they aren’t required to lift anyone up in the air, it isn’t as hard as being a base. But the truth is, being a flyer is also very physically demanding.
They need to have full body control. It is important that flyers are aware of their own body and weight distribution. If their weight distribution is slightly off, it can affect the entire stunt and possibly cause it to fall. And being mindful of all these is no easy task!
Besides that, certain stunts require special skills from flyers. For instance, liberty stunts are usually coupled with stretches such as scorpion, heel stretch and scale. Pulling these stretches when you are on the ground is already a challenge by itself, yet alone having to pull it when you are in the air!
I mean, look at that! Not only they make it look so easy when they pull their stretch, they even have such a wide smile on their face!
More advanced levels require flyers to flip in the air whether it is for a dismount or as a skill. Not only must the flyers know how to flip, they have to be extremely precise with the timing they are doing it at and their landing position! Any miscalculation and it might end in injuries.
Sounds scary? Don’t worry!
If you are an aspiring flyer, use this acronym!
Tight – Stay tight! Keep your feet close to each other and try to make your whole body as one cohesive piece as much as you can
Arms – Use your arms to hold your own weight by lifting them!
Balance – Try to find your own center and balance. It is easier on your bases and also less frightening for you
Eye contact – Always keep eye contact with the crowd! Never ever look down from your stunt.
This is an overview of the three main roles in cheerleading and truth be told, you can be good at any role with proper techniques and practice. So go ahead and give cheerleading a try if you haven’t already! If you are currently a cheerleader, practice these techniques I have shared with you and you will be sure to perform better!