Get Higher Basket Tosses

Basket Tosses are one of the most exciting, dynamic skills performed in cheerleading.  Whether you’re talking about complex, kick double full baskets, or a simple toe touch, nothing gets the crowd to “ohhh” and “ahhh” like height.  There are lots of moving parts in a basket toss, and they all play a part in determining how high the flyer will travel.  This article is going to talk about two of them.  Follow these two, simple rules and you will soon be hearing the crowd “ohhh” and “ahhh” for your basket tosses too.

First, we will talk about the bases.  There are many different elements about the bases and their technique that will all impact the height of their toss.  There is the issue of physical strength.  There is the issue of timing.  There is the issue of experience.  However, there is one, simple factor that will override every other basing issue in terms of basket toss height.  That factor is how high the bases’ hands are at the moment they “break” the basket and the flyer’s feet lose contact with the bases.

The reason for this is simple.  Suppose two base groups are equally strong and have equal flyers.  They throw a basket at the same time.  One base group is taller.  They have longer legs and longer arms.  When they fully extend their arms while their hands are locked in the basket, their hands are 8 feet off the ground.  If their toss generates 4 feet of thrust, the flyer will reach a height of 12 feet.  Suppose the other group with shorter arms and legs stretches up to a mere height of 7 feet.  If they toss just as hard as the first group, their basket will still be a foot lower, just because their release point for the basket was lower.  Make sense?

So now the question is how to go about raising the release point for the bases.  No, you can’t always just go out and get taller bases.  Nice try.  But here are some things you CAN do.

First, make sure the bases are close together.  At the moment they release their grip, they should be chest to chest.  This will allow their arms to be straight up, perpendicular to the ground.  And separation between the bases will cause their arms to be angled a little more.  In order to be as close together as possible (without banging heads when the flyer loads in), make sure to use good posture, keeping your shoulders directly over your hips.  Do not lean forward and absorb the flyer’s weight with your back.  Instead, absorb with your legs.  Not only does this help you stay close to each other, it also protects your back from injury.

Second, when you are tossing your basket, you want the bases to literally jump.  A lot of people are surprised by this, but it makes perfect sense.  For one thing, if you are throwing with your legs (pushing) as hard as you can, you will jump.  So if you aren’t jumping, you still aren’t pushing your best.  Secondly, if you jump 4 inches off the ground, that raises your release point 4 inches in the air.  Every inch makes a difference when your flyer is trying to learn a new skill, so don’t give them away with bad technique.

Finally, toss straight up, following through by “flicking” your fingers straight up in the air.  Sometimes, you will see bases follow through by throwing their heads and hands back.  They might be jumping, but instead of jumping straight up (in the direction they want the flyer to travel), they do a  “C” jump with arching backs.  This greatly lowers the release point of the basket.  It also disperses all of that momentum out to the sides instead of concentrating it directly under the flyers feet.  If might feel, and even look, like a more powerful toss, but it is inefficient.  Most of the energy is being wasted instead of used.  Don’t make that mistake.  By the way, it can also cause the flyer to by thrown behind the head of whichever base is arching the most because the following through of their hands behind their head will take the flyer in that direction.  Do that and you’ll wind up on YouTube, in a bad way.

As for the flyer, your job is to capture as much of the energy generated by the bases as possible.  You do this by doing two basic things.  First, you stay in contact with the bases hands as long as you possible can.  In other words, do not jump!  As you feel the bases driving up, you should be standing up on the balls of your feet.  Squeeze your legs and feet together.  If your legs separate, your feet can start to slide off the basket before the bases release their grip.  Sliding off the side of the basket can waste the majority of the power generated by the bases, so squeeze those feet together. 

Also, make sure to keep good body position, staying perpendicular to the floor.  Your shoulders, hips and toes should be in a straight line at the moment the bases release.  If anything is out of alignment, some of the energy of the toss will be used to take you in that direction instead of it all being used to take you straight up.

Like I said, there are many other considerations in baskets.  But follow these basics and you’ll probably start seeing better height.  Also, always, always, always use good spotting and cradling technique in baskets.  If people start getting hurt, they lose confidence, and then technique goes out the window.  When the flyer is confident that she will be caught, she will keep her hands and elbows to herself and the bases won’t be getting black eyes or busted lips.  It is a win-win.  And that is not only good for safety, it will also get you the “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” that translate to better scores for your routine.

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13 Comments on “Get Higher Basket Tosses”

  1. Romeo Says:

    GREAT POST!! keep up the great blog

  2. Holly Says:

    I thought this was very useful. I will definitely try this tomorrow.

  3. Savannah Says:

    Greash! Have been a cheerleader for one year and we have started doing basket tosses. We couldn’t get the correct height, but as soon as I stood on the balls of my toes before flying and then jumped, we got more height. Have to let my coach know about the bases jumping. Saw cheer stunts on YouTube and payed attention to the bases feet, and they do jump! Thanks a lot, and keep this up — I will definitely be reading this more often!

  4. Courtney Says:

    I understand what you mean about technique going out of the window if the flyer is scared it is usually more dangerous coz they are all over the place and making life really hard for the bases and backspots then when they get told they could hurt someone it makes them even more less confident, whereas if the flyer is confident and trusts their bases everything will be so much easier and no one will get hurt.

  5. kelsey Says:

    is there any advice for a backspot?


    • That depends on which technique you use as a backspot. I think most high school backspots assist the flyer by pushing under the seat (which is cheer talk for butt). If that is how you like to backspot, my advice is just to make sure you follow through straight to the top and jump, just like the bases. If you place your hands under the hands of the bases (which I think is a harder technique, but more effective once you have it down), it’s really the same thing. Either way, just be really careful about the follow through. If you follow through in any direction other than straight up, you might sweep the flyer’s feet out from under her and cause a problem.
      Of course, as ALWAYS, the main priority of the backspot is the safety of the flyer. Always keep your eyes on the head and shoulders of the flyer so you will be there to catch her!

  6. Lauren Says:

    Thanks! But what if th flyer is short but there bases are tall!?

  7. Sara Albinus Says:

    Thank you! I am a flyer and I really want to get a higher basket because I barely leave my bases’ hands. These tips are super helpful 🙂

  8. Ashley Says:

    Hello I need help… I’m a flyer, and I have a bad habit of “jumping” after the dip before the launch. I’m not sure why, even though I tried telling myself to literally stand up. I think it feels awkward when they DIPPED, and it feels like my feet and weight went down as they dip so I don’t know how to avoid jumping. They told me to “stand up” but it’s hard to not jump when they dipped. Also When do I push their shoulders with my arms? I


    • Ashley, good news. I think your second question is the answer to your first. You should be pushing with your arms (supporting your weight) on your bases shoulders the whole time from when you load into the basket until you are standing up in the toss. If you are supporting your weights with your arms while your bases dip, you wont feel the impulse to dip with them and “jump.” While they are dipping, your knees should be bent less than 90 degrees. If you are supporting your weight with your arms and your knees bend more than that, there might be a problem with your bases positioning. Make sure the bases are standing as close together as possible. You should just barely fit between then. Also, make sure your bases are keeping their backs upright and they are dipping only with their legs. If they dip with their backs, that can cause you to bend your elbows, losing support of your weight which will make you bottom out/jump off their hands. I know I just threw a lot at you. I hope some of that helps.

  9. Lacie Says:

    So I’m a base, and my stunt group can’t even hit a simple straight up basket. We don’t know if it’s bases or our flyer; maybe even a combination of both. Every single time we go up our flyer can’t stand up and she bends her knees like she slipped over our hands. I don’t knew if bases aren’t dipping enough but I can’t figure out what’s going on. We also have a problem about when we are getting set for a basket our flyers feet are like getting thrown over our hands. Do have any advice on how to fix this?


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