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.