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“That looks like fun, throwing around some little girls! They’re like half your size, right? I could do this.” Especially from men, this is something I hear quite often.
I think at this point, we’ve already established that flyers are not just good looking, tiny girls. A well-trained flyer can easily outweigh their base if they have the skill to hold themselves up. Now let’s look at what our bases need to do to get a stunt up in the air!
Feel the rock, be the rock
A base, as the name implies, is the solid ground on which the flyer stands. Bases are responsible for getting a stunt up and holding it there, carrying the main weight. Of course, the back spot helps them in everything they do, don’t forget this. To keep things short and focused, I won’t mention that anymore in this post.
Basing requires exceptional physical fitness. A certain amount of strength and power is necessary to implement perfect technique; a base who is preoccupied with fighting the weight of the flyer cannot do her job properly. Still, technique is invaluable and should always be the focus of every base. Using the right muscle groups and perfect positioning to create momentum makes lifting a lot easier. Speed is key – slow stunting is the beginning of the end in every routine.
Technique is not only used to hit stunts perfectly, but also to protect the base. Joints like the knees, hips, shoulders and wrists have to endure high impacts regularly. The spines of our bases are also a huge concern. Stunting with improper technique, for example lifting while having a hunched back, can lead to serious injury. Even with good technique, many bases feel the strain after years of stunting. This is why complementary strength training is vital for bases (and everyone else, for that matter).
Feeling the stunt
In a perfect stunt, every movement has a place and a time. When you’re counting a stunt, the base knows exactly what to do when: push on one, lock on three, squat on five, etc. But perfect stunts don’t happen all the time; things go wrong. A good base can feel a stunt going wrong from the moment it starts, because she feels the flyer’s weight shift in her hands. Then, it’s time to react. Can she still get the stunt? Maybe she needs to change her grip, walk a few steps, or squat a little lower. The stunt can’t be saved? She needs to find a way to get her flyer down to safety without hurting anyone.
When a pair of bases is well attuned, they can even feel each other through the stunt. If your flyer suddenly seems very light, it might be because the other base is carrying all the weight – maybe she’s further down than you, and you need to squat to her level so you can push the stunt up together. When a main base misses a hand on a grip and the side base spots it fast enough, she can adjust her own grip and help out. Perfecting this art can take years of practice. Each time you’re paired with a different base, you need to adjust your height and speed to match her.
Just like the back spot, a base should give her flyer confidence. Through fast and controlled pushes, stable stances and grips that cover the flyer’s foot completely, a base tells her flyer: “Don’t worry. I got you. Do your thing.”
Here’s an example of two strong bases who’ve worked together for the past 2 years. You’ll notice they stunt without a back spot; this just makes it all the more challenging.
There’s no “I” in TEAM
Now that you know all the different positions within a stunt group, let’s focus on the big picture. Next week, we will discuss why cheerleading is hands down THE best team sport there is.