Archive for October 2011

Single-Base to Hands

October 23, 2011

It’s one thing to see three bases holding a little girl in the air in a stunt.  It is another thing entirely to see one base supporting the flyer.  As cheerleaders, I think we take the sight of a single-base stunt for granted.  To most people, seeing one person balancing another person in air really gets their attention.  This, by the way, is true for judges too!  Score some extra points by throwing a single-base stunt in your routine somewhere.

The thing about single-base stunts is that they are not nearly as hard as they look, once you get them in the air.  I’ll talk about that a little more later in this article.  But once the flyer is at the extended level, a single-base stunt can actually be easier.  In terms of balancing the flyer, you have one base keeping the flyer’s feet level instead of two bases trying to do so.  Also, a single base can stand perfectly directly under the flyer.  That means that once they lock out their arms and legs, all the flyer’s weight is being supported by the base’s skeletal structure (bones) instead of with their muscles.  And trust me, your bones are stronger than your muscles!  In multi-base stunts, although the bases are supposed to get as close to each other as possible, positioning themselves under the flyer as much as possible, in real life, bases rarely execute this perfectly and usually have their hand slightly out in front of their faces meaning the weight of the flyer is held in their shoulder muscles and not in their skeleton.

Moving on to the technique portion of this article, we are going to look at a basic technique to get your flyer from the ground up to the shoulder level in a single base stunt.  It is called a J-up.  This is the method I usually teach to beginning coed stunt groups because it is basically an assisted coed-style toss-to-hands.  However, this technique works fine with an all-girl group as well.

In the J-up, your main base and your flyer assume a standard coed toss position.  This is where the base places their hands on the flyers hips.  The flyer holds onto the wrists of the base.  The main difference between this technique and a regular toss is that a secondary flyer is involved.  The secondary flyer is in a crouch to the right side of the flyer in about the position they would be if they were standing up spotting the stunt.  The flyer holds their right foot up so that their knee is bent at or less than 90 degrees.  The crouching secondary base holds the flyer’s right foot using the same grip they would for a double-base.  It is important to note that the bases right foot is going to be slightly out in front of her left foot because her knee is bent.

Now for the toss.  The main base and the flyer execute a regular toss-to-hands.  Without getting into too much detail, they dip with their legs, they drive with their legs, pushing off their toes.  All the while, the flyer is pushing their down with their hands on the bases wrist, which transfers their body weight to the wrists.  As the flyer rises, as the main bases’ arms fulling extend, the flyer pushes (flicks) with her arms straight down her body.  At this point, the flyer would usually be fully released and in flight.  Here is the difference with the J-up.  First, the flyer is only jumping off of one foot.  As the flyer jumps, they will feel the secondary bases stand up and drive their right foot up and underneath them.  This is where the name J-up comes into play.  Because the flyers foot is slightly out in front of her, the secondary base has to “hook” the flyers foot back towards the main base to get it directly beneath, while the base is driving the foot up.  From the side, this movement would somewhat resemble the letter “J.”  Anyway, the secondary bases drives the foot they as high as they can.  At the same time, the flyer is standing up strong on that leg.  The flyer will be weightless on the way up.  As the stunt comes back down to the shoulder level, the flyer should have all of their weight on the right foot.

It is important to note that there are a lot of moving parts involved.  The flyer has to perfectly execute elements of a coed toss and elements of a multi-base load into a double base.  This is not a simple thing!  So expect that it will take some trial and error to get the timing down.  The timing for a toss is tricky enough.  The timing for the secondary base knowing when to drive takes practice to get down.  Probably the biggest trick is the flyer figuring out when to stand up and get their weight onto to the secondary base.  So take your time and be patient.  You’ll get it sooner or later.

Once you have all of that figured out, you should consistently be “tossing” the flyer so that their feet are at least eye-level to the main base.  Eventually, you want to be able to get the toss to an extended level!  Wherever the highest level of your toss is, that is when the main base should catch the feet of the flyer.  Generally, that is going to involve a grip in the center of the flyer’s foot with the base’s index finger beneath the heel of the flyer’s foot.  You might be wondering how that happens on the right foot since the secondary base is holding the heel and toe of that foot.  The answer is simple.  At the highest point where the flyer is still weightless, the secondary base should release the heel of the flyer with their left hand, but maintain their grip on the toe with their right hand.  This should happen exactly before the main base catches the flyer’s feet.  Once the main base has their grip, the secondary base should assist either the flyer’s right ankle or the main bases right wrist with their left hand, depending on how high the secondary base can reach.  Also, once the main base has their grip on the flyer’s feet, the flyer should transfer about 1/3 of their weight into their left foot.  In doing so, 2/3 of the flyer’s weight is being supported by 3 hands (right hand of the main base and both hands of the secondary base), and 1/3 of the flyer’s weight is being supported by one hand (the left hand of the main base).

This technique is extremely versatile once it is perfected.  You can use this for toss liberties.  You can modify it for full-ups.  As earlier stated, you can toss to should height or to a fully extended level.

As always, make sure that you aware of safety and spotting requirements of whatever event you compete at related to single-base stunts.  You may be required to have an additional spotter behind this stunt.  Also, as always, make sure you have perfected all necessary progressions that lead up to this technique before attempting it.  Success in stunting is all about taking your time and perfecting each level of skill difficulty as you go.

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