There are a couple of moments from cheerleading that I will always remember. For instance, I will always remember being amazed to the point of disbelief the first time I saw a Toss Cupie. Over time I came to learn that this was not nearly as difficult as I thought, but as a cheerleading novice, I was floored by it. Another one of those moments was when I was a first year cheerleader attending college camp and Pat Wedge demonstrated a Tick Tock. For those that do not know, Pat had just won his second consecutive partner stunt title. In his championship routine, he performed a left to right Heel Stretch Tick Tock (not Lib to Lib like we mostly see these days). Seeing the inventor of the trick performing it live right in front of me was exceedingly impressive. I have been somewhat fascinated with Ticks Tocks ever since.
There are many, many varieties of Tick Tocks. They can be done as a coed stunt, or in an all-girl stunt group. They can be done from right to left or left to right. They can done from Stretch to Lib, from Arabesque to Stretch (one of my favorites!), or the more traditional Lib to Lib or Stretch to Stretch. They can be done from the shoulder level up to an extended level (sometimes called a power press). They can even be done from the ground up to the top (sometimes called a switch-up, or a giddy-up). But with all of these variations, there are still a few techniques that you can count on to help you in every Tick Tock that you perform.
The first technique is the use of “air-time.” I did an entire article about “air-time” and it is available under the Stunts tab, so I won’t go into too much detail. But basically, how this relates to Tick Tocks is that you want the bases to release the flyer’s foot and re-establish their grip on the new foot while the flyer is still weightless. That is at the point in the “pop” before the flyer really starts coming down again. In other words, it is at the top of “pop.” Again, please see the previous article for more explanation of this point.
Another technique is for the bases to only “pop” with their legs and by shrugging their shoulders. They should never bend their arms to pop. This is because you want your bases to catch the Tick Tock with locked out arms. If they catch it with bent arms it is much harder to keep the stunt in the air. The bases can absorb the shock of the catch with their legs, but should not do so with their arms.
One other point for bases is to try not to change their grips. In coed stunts this is pretty simple. You would only change your grip if the Tick Tock involved switching from an Arabesque grip to a Lib or Stretch grip. But with all-girl stunt groups, we are accustomed to having a “main base grip” for the base that is on the side of the flyer’s locked out leg and a “side base grip” for the base on the other side. During a Tick Tock, the flyer changes the leg she is standing on, so it seems intuitive that the bases might change their grips. You can have your bases do so it you like, but all of that fumbling of hands makes it much harder than it needs to be. I have found that it is much simpler to have the bases keep their hands in whatever grip positions they started in.
For the flyers, it is important to put your second foot in the exact same place that your first foot was. A lot of flyers try to “step over” to the other base. Remember that in a Tick Tock, you should not travel. Also, your bases do not want to have to move to go get you. They just want to pop you straight up, have you pick one foot up and put the other foot right back in the same place where the first foot was (and where their hands are waiting).
Another important issue for the flyers is to make sure your leg is locked out by the time you have your foot in the bases hands. If the flyers leg is bent when the bases catch the foot, it will be a less stable stunt. Also, when the flyer stands up on the bent leg, that will momentarily increase the weight on the bases and make it harder to support the flyer.
If you are trying to learn a Tick Tock, there are several ways you can work up to it that might make it easier. If you are doing extended Tick Tocks, start off with the flyer holding the hands of a “post” (or two) who is in an elevator (half). Gradually have the post offer less and less support until the post is no longer needed. Before I even get to that point, I like to teach the Switch-Up where the flyer loads into the bases on her left foot and switched to a right footed Lib on the way up to the top. This gives the stunt group the feel of a Tick Tock but without having to balance a Lib before the transition to the second leg and without so much impact at the end of the trick.
Probably the most fundamental drill I use for Tick Tocks is simply having the flyer stand in a left Lib on a line on the floor and having her switch to her right Lib with her foot landing in the exact same spot on the line. In doing this, the flyer is practicing landing in the same spot, landing with a locked out leg and performing the transition quickly enough to still be weightless if she had been “popped” in a real Tick Tock.
Most stunts, including Tick Tocks, are way too complicated to cover everything in just one article, so I am cutting this one off now. Please feel free to post any specific issues or questions about Tick Tocks that I have not touched on (there are MANY), and I will try to post a useful reply.