Cheerleading ranges from chanting, to intense physical activity for sports team motivation, audience entertainment, or competition based upon organized routines. Competitive routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes, and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting. Cheerleading originated in the United States, and remains predominantly in America, with an estimated 1.5 million participants in all-star cheerleading. The global presentation of cheerleading was led by the 1997 broadcast of ESPN’s International cheerleading competition, and the worldwide release of the 2000 film Bring It On. Due in part to this recent exposure, there are now an estimated 100,000 participants scattered around the globe in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Cheerleading carries the highest rate of catastrophic injuries in sports. The risks of cheerleading were highlighted when Kristi Yamaoka, a cheerleader for Southern Illinois University, suffered a fractured vertebra when she hit her head after falling from a human pyramid. She also suffered from a concussion, and a bruised lung. The fall occurred when Yamaoka lost her balance during a basketball game between Southern Illinois University and Bradley University at the Savvis Center in St. Louis on March 5, 2006. The fall gained “national attention”, because Yamaoka continued to perform from a stretcher as she was moved away from the game. Yamaoka has since made a full recovery.

Athletes involved

A flyer, 2 bases (usually, side and main base), and a backspot. Sometimes there may be a frontspot as well. A partner stunt will involve two athletes: one flyer and one base. A third athlete, a spotter, will be involved depending upon the skill level of the stunt executed and the rules and regulations for that skill. Every person in the group is important. The stunt will not be performed or practiced if one person is missing.

  • Flyer
  • Bases and Spotters
  • Main Base
  • Secondary Base
  • Back Spot
  • Front Spot
  • Additional Spot

Types of stunts

This stunt uses both bases, a backspot, and a flyer. Sometimes a front spot.

  • Prep

A stunt in which the flyer stands on two bases’ hands and is risen up to chin length height. The flyer may put her arms up into a high V. To enter into this skill, the bases should be apart no farther than the length of their flyer. They will then place their hands like an open book in front of them and dip together. The most common way that this is done is with the back spot to count, “One, two.” The bases dip together on the “two” count and push through the legs and arms afterwards. An extension prep is the same thing as a prep but now the bases’ and back spots arms are fully extended straight up. Keep in mind that for the flyer to be comfortable and stable in this stunt the bases should be spaced fairly close to together in order for the flyer’s legs to be shoulder with apart. An elevator is a cheerleading stunt where both the bases start in the same position as a normal prep, but they are bent down more with their hands open like a book touching the ground. The flyer then steps into the bases hands, and the flyer slowly starts rising into the air, hence the name “elevator.”

  • Cupie or an Awesome

The Cupie is almost identical to the full extension except that the flyer’s feet are together, in one hand of a single base or with one foot each in the hands of two bases. In a partner stunt the difference between a cupie and an awesome has to do with what the male is doing with his free hand. If the free hand is on the hip then it is a cupie, if the free hand is in a high V then it is an awesome.

  • Extension or Full

In an Extension,the flyer stands with each foot in the hands of a base while her arms are in an extended overhead position. The back can either hold the ankles of the flyer, or support the wrists of the bases depending on state rules. In a single-based stunt, the base will hold both of the flyer’s feet above his or her head, with their arms locked. The flyer must also be stable and confident in the air and also must lock their legs.

  • Split-lift or Teddy Sit

The flier is in a seated straddle with the two side bases holding one hand on her thigh and one on her ankle. The back base holds up her butt with her hands and holds most of the weight. This stunt is sometimes called a straddle sit. The flexibility of the flyer is tested in this stunt because the appearance and the impressiveness of this stunt depends on how far apart the bases can spread the flyer’s legs to create a better visual appearance. Along with that, flyer needs to keep their legs straight to help their bases and make sure their butt doesn’t sag to not put too much pressure on the back spot.

  • Thigh stand

A thigh stand is one of the simplest stunts. The bases kneel on one leg or are in a lunge position with their front knees bent in order to make it easier for the flyer to stand. The bases have their feet touching each other by the sides of their shoes. The back spot will hold the flyer at the waist. She will then jump onto the pocket of the bases’ thighs. The bases will then grasp their far hand on the toe of the flyer’s foot and the closet arm around their leg and keep it close to their bodies so the flyer is secure within the stunt.

  • Shoulder stand

In a shoulder stand, somebody stands on another person’s shoulders. The base grabs their calves or ankles. To get out of this stunt, the base must pop the flyer forward catching them by their hips and slowly lowering the top to the floor.

  • Shoulder sit

In a shoulder sit, the flyer sits on the base’s shoulders and wraps her feet around the base’s waist. There are many ways to enter into a shoulder sit, the most common is for the base to bend one knee while the flyer stands behind the base and places one foot on the base’s bent leg and puts their hands on the base’s shoulders to make it easier to pop into the stunt. Once the flyer and the base are ready, they both dip on the same count and the flyer will extend their arms and wrap their other leg that was on the ground around the base’s shoulder, the base will focus on getting the other leg secure on their shoulder. To exit out of this stunt, the base must hold the flyers hands while dipping and popping them off the base’s shoulders. The flyer will land on the floor behind the base.

  • Leapin’ Lora

The backspot is in a “rock” position, the flyer then jumps on the back of the backspot and bounces into the bases’ hands.

  • Steppers

The main base brings the flyers left foot to belly button level, then the side bass brings her right leg to half, then the main base lifts the foot to full, and the side base lifts the right foot to full. While doing this the back base is holding the flyers ankles and is helping each base pull up. This stunt looks like the flyer is climbing up stairs and is also called ‘Step Up’.

  • Liberty

This is when both bases have grip on one of the flyer’s feet. One bases has the normal open book grip and the other base has one hand placed under the foot in-between the other bases hands, the other hand is placed on top (also called hamburger grip). When the flyer goes up in the air, they are standing on one foot with the other foot bent placed by ones knee. This stunt is called a liberty because it is meant to look like lady liberty. The flyer must want to bring the free foot into the other knee so it looks more sophisticated and classy.

  • Tick-tock

In this stunt the flyer is on one leg on both of the bases hands and jumps from one leg to the other.

  • Show-n-go

The flyer is basically just up in the air for like a second and is brought back down.