Liberties – How to be Solid
A Liberty is sort of the entry-level advanced stunt. Unbraced extended Liberties are only legal at Level 3 and above. Advanced Stunt Class at many camps require a solid Liberty to participate. The Liberty is the gateway stunt. Hitting your Libs means you have arrived. You are in the game. So it is more than important that you master your Liberty. This article is going to offer some suggestions for things to try to get more consistent and confident in your Liberties.
Starting with the bases, it is important that you make your flyer feel as secure as possible. This starts with your grip. For the main base, try to cover as much of the sole of your flyer’s shoe as possible. In other words, do not ONLY hold the extreme heel and toe of her shoes. The more your flyer has to stand on, the more secure they will feel.
For the side base, one of your hands should be between the main bases 2 hands, covering whatever is left of the flyer’s shoe’s sole. The other hand should either on the ankle of the flyer if you can reach that high, or on one of the wrists of the main base to help support the flyer’s weight. What I think generally works the best is to place the left hand on the main bases right wrist, which is the hand on the flyer’s toe. This is because the back spot can assist with the ankle/heel section of the foot.
One more word on the bases. Unlike with 2-legged stunts where you should be spaced as far apart as the flyer’s hips, in Liberties, you should be as close to each other as possible, chest to chest, so that you can both be under the flyer and providing the strongest support possible.
For the back spots, you have a key role in getting the flyer in the air. You should have your left hand under the flyer’s seat (that’s cheer-talk for “butt”), and your right hand on the flyer’s ankle. Many back spots make the mistake of setting up a step behind the flyer. This means you will either have to step in as the stunt goes up, or you will be pushing the flyer forward on the way up. It is better to set up as far under the flyer as possible. Try to position your flat hand on your shoulder, like you are carrying a platter. That way, you will be doing most of the lifting with your legs.
All bases and back spots, remember to squeeze whatever ankle, wrist or foot that you are holding good and hard. The tighter you squeeze, the more secure your flyer will feel. Also, that reminds the flyer that they need to squeeze too.
Flyers, you are going to get most of the advice. Lucky you! 🙂
Getting up, not only are you going to “step and lock” with your main (usually right) leg, not only are you going to push-off of the bases shoulders (or sometimes heads) with you arms, you are also going to take a big, strong jump off the ground with your back leg. The back leg is the one that flyers tend to forget about. I think this is because they just let the back spot lift them rather than pushing themselves. You want your Liberty to “shoot” up to the top as fast and aggressively as possible. The combination of a strong back leg push and good boost from the back spot is what makes that happen.
One you’re in the air there are a couple of things that you need to do that are standard for most stunts. You need to hollow out. Check out the article on flyer technique if you have questions about that. You have to lock your base leg. You have to NOT look down. But there are also a few things that you have to choose how and what to do…
First, what do you do with your free leg/foot? Some people teach a Liberty to dangle the free leg, get balanced, and then pull it up. This is done because one thing you NEVER want to do is pull the Lib leg too early. The earliest the Lib leg should be lifted is at the top of the stunt, after the bases have locked out. However, that means shifting your weight to lift your leg after the bases have already become settled. I find that this sometimes destabilizes the flyer. You can do either, but I prefer to pull the Lib leg at the top without hesitation.
When you “hit the Lib,” you should think about lifting your leg, NOT your foot. Your foot will obviously come up underneath you, but that should be a result of the leg lifting and not the other way around. Also, think about lifting you thigh so that it becomes flat like a table, instead of lifting your knee. Thinking about lifting the knee sometimes causes the flyer to stick the knee forward which has all kinds of bad side effects. Also, be careful to keep your hips level. If you lift or lower the hip of your Lib leg you are going to lose your balance.
Some people teach to place the foot of your Lib leg against you base leg. I think this makes the Lib look prettier. But be careful. You do not want to REST your foot against your leg. If you rest your foot there, is can cause your base leg’s knee to bend or your hip to drop. You must continue to hold you leg up using the hip flexor muscles and not just press it against your leg.
One other suggestion. I usually start teaching Liberties with the flyer NOT pulling a high V. I want the flyer to focus on their hips and on hollowing out. Pulling a high V while lifting the leg frequently leads the flyer to stick her knee forward and roll her shoulders forward and the stunt falls off the front. Once the flyer is consistently staying in the air without the high V, adding arm motions is usually simple enough.
I hope some of those suggestions and observations are useful to you. Feel free to leave your own in the comments section!