Cheerleading/stunting

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hey Chris, my name is Halle and I am a cheerleader, I just started cheering in April, and I tried out for my highschool team for freshman year so when school starts ill be cheering for them. anyways I made tryouts in April and weve be having practices and a home camp and more practices and pretty soon an away camp... so it has been confirmed that I am a flyer, and when I first started we did hang drills and then moved on to a half and I totally failed because ive never been a flyer before...etc. etc. so then we practiced more and so far ive done hang drills, a half, an extension, a show and go, a kewpi (idk how to spell it), a cradle from a half and a cradle from an extension...so sometimes I skip practice because I am terrified to stunt and yeah ive improved a lot even my team mates have told me, but its embarrassing when I mess up because all the other flyers were on the team times before and obviously know how to do all the flying...so I decided to take a private stunting class at Cheer Force Orange County, and we did a cradle from a half, a cradle from an extension and I did libs, and then a cradle from a lib. and now here is the actual question... I have to do a basket toss (toe touch) for the high school cheer not the private class and I'm very very very very very scared...im 14 and I weigh 79 pounds and I'm scared to get thrown up higher than I should X( please please please tell me everything about the toe touch basket toss because idk what I'm getting myself into, also tell me about a twist cradle I'm scared to do that too because I don't want to land in the bases arms on my stomach, so go into depth with both please and thank you. sorry for the long paragraph, just needed to explain what came before so you would understand, please answer asap thank you very much !

Answer
Halle, let me start by telling you, you're not the first to worry about this! The first time I had to do a basket toss I was so nervous I was literally sick! I'd been flying for 4 years by that time and was still terrified. It's a scary thing, but you'll be ok. I'm sure your coach appreciates the initiative you've already taken by going to a private stunting class. I know I would think really highly of one of my cheerleaders if they did that.

I'll start with the toss. The first thing they'll have you do is what's called a trophy drill. They might call it something different, but the idea is the bases will put their hands in a basket toss grip and you'll basically do a show and go in that position. I'll warn you, it's really awkward and rarely works like a show and go. It usually is pretty wobbly and weird. Not scary, just weird. Frankly, I don't think they're a very helpful drill for fliers, but coaches usually do them. I don't really know why, but usually safety protocols say we should, so we do. As a flier, stay tight and don't drop your butt on the way down. The back spot will be holding your ankles on the way up and down and may have trouble catching you if you drop your butt. Instead, keep it up and be ready to catch yourself on the bases shoulders. Keep your weight in your arms just like in a hang drill. If you drop your butt you may fall on it. You won't get injured, but it still kinda hurts!

Next they'll do a straight ride basket toss. The bases and back will throw you and you won't do a toe touch or anything in the air. You'll just go straight up and straight back down. You'll do a LOT of these as a flier. Usually, fliers do these every day to warm up. In a straight ride, the idea is to stay STRAIGHT! Don't let your feet go out in front of you. It's really common and if you do that you won't be learning the right technique for a toe touch later. Do not worry about them throwing you too high. When I was 12 (first time I tossed) I weighed 70 lbs and my bases were like 5' 8" tall. I was super tiny.  Bases can control the throw. If you keep your technique, you won't have a problem. You'll only have an issue if you don't stay tight. If you wiggle or don't keep your body straight your bases will have a hard time catching you. Even if something goes wrong, if you're tight, the bases or a spotter can still catch you.

They will not throw you out of the group or onto the floor. The toss is really not that scary. And I am scared of everything!!! You'll probably only go a few feet above the bases heads the first few times because until you know how to ride a toss, it won't have the height you've seen on basket tosses. As you learn, they'll get higher. And as you learn, they'll get less scary.

For a toe touch, they're fairly difficult to make look pretty. Here's a good drill. Lay on the floor with your feet together and your arms above your head (that's how you ride a toss). Then quickly snap up into a toe touch position. In a toe touch toss you want to be sitting up in a toe touch. So on the floor make sure when you go to the toe touch you sit all the way up until you're sitting up like you would if you sat down normally on the floor (I hope that makes sense). The part of your butt that you normally sit on will need to be the only part on the floor when you hit the toe touch part of the drill. So lay down, SNAP up into a toe touch. Don't forget to point your toes. Then SNAP back down to your starting position. Do this on a 1-2-3 count. Hit the toe touch on 2 and back to starting position on 3. It's fast in the air, so it needs to be fast on the ground. It's not easy. It takes ab muscles. It's a little easier in the air, but the drill on the ground is a great way to learn. An easier (but slight less effective) drill is to stand with your arms up like riding a toss. And on a 1-2-3 count, hit a toe touch (just with one leg and your arms) on 2 and snap back to start on 3.

Important to note that unlike in a jump, in a toe touch toss you should drop your chest.


Twist cradles......whew my least favorite thing to do! But I got pretty good at them. Let me start by saying that literally every flier ever has landed on their stomach. It doesn't hurt. I promise. Maybe a bruise here or there, but usually not even that. And I'm sure by now you've already gotten a few bruises. In a twist, look to the side but NOT DOWN! Wrap your arms (in whichever position you are told. There's a few that work so do whichever your team uses). Don't unwrap or stop looking until you see the front. The main reason for landing on your stomach is people get scared and stop twisting. So if you don't want to land on your stomach, wrap really tight and go for it.

A really important thing in twisting is to wait until they throw you. Every single flier I have taught to twist, including myself, has tried to twist right out of the bases hands. Since there's no height, they don't get around or at best they sort of just corkscrew to their feet. Wait until you are IN THE AIR and OUT OF THEIR HANDS to initiate the twist. It will feel like it's too late. It's not. You will be anxious and want to go sooner. Don't. You will remind yourself of this before you twist and do one of two things. Go early anyways, or wait with every intention of doing it properly and then feel like you waited too long and not twist. It takes a few tries to learn the timing.

Every time you get discouraged remember two things. These stunts are hard. You're learning them because you'll get points at competition. You only get those points because they're hard. Makes sense, right? Second, these are not normal things that humans are meant to do. Some crazy person thought hey, I'm going to have some other people throw me and I'm going to spin on the way down! And now all us fliers must suffer for it! :) So just because a certain technique or trick works for one person, it may not work for you. It's not like a math problem.

Now a bit go general flying advice. Always remember this. At all times, keep your head, shoulders, hips (especially hips), and ankles in one straight line. Experiment on the floor standing on one leg and sticking your hip out. You'll see how hard it is to stand that way. Your center of gravity is where your hips are. They are the most important part of your body when flying.

Next, how to stay tight. Locking your knees and squeezing your butt is easy (although if you ever feel like you can't keep your leg in in a lib make sure you're squeezing your butt), but the rest is tougher to get. Your stomach needs to be super tight. Gets friend or family member to help with this drill. Lay on the floor and get super tight like you're flying. Have someone grab your feet and lift you up until only your shoulders are touching the floor. You should come up straight, like one flat board. Your butt should not stay on the floor and there should be ABSOLUTELY NO bend at your hips. If there is, you're not squeezing your butt or stomach tightly enough. Do this until squeezing everything is second nature. If you're not tight, you'll feel heavy in the air to your bases and struggle with other stunts in the future.

Good luck and if you have another question feel free to ask!  

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Chris

Expertise

I can answer questions on partner stunts, dismounts, basket tosses, choreography, pyramids, jumps, motions, chants, and formations. I can answer questions on tryouts, coaching, general cheerleading, etc. I cannot answer questions on co-ed stunts/pyramids or tumbling. Aside from these areas I can usually answer, or direct you to an answer, on any other topic.

Experience

I've been cheerleading for 10 years. My teams consistently competed at the national level, placing many times. I've coached for the past 5 years, and the team I coached most recently became National Champions. I've cheered at the Pop Warner, High School, and All-Star levels. I coach alongside my mother and sister who have coached at the all-star level as well. I've been watching cheerleading since I was 4, and I can create routines, give advice, and help teach kids how to deal with competitions. I have a knack for coaching and giving advice. I'm always the coach designated to give the pep talks to the kids before competitions.

Education/Credentials
I have been living with cheerleading coaches for 10+ years which teaches more than anyone can imagine. I was captain of my Varsity High School squad which came with the responsibility of picking music, writing a cheer, creating and teaching the routine, and making the formations. I have also coached nationally ranked teams for 5 years.

Awards and Honors
Two-time All-State Cheerleader nominee All-State Class M Cheerleader Varsity Cheer Captain

Past/Present Clients
The 32 young girls I just helped coach to a national championship! :) It wasn't easy, but they'll all say the work was worth it in the end.

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