What Makes a Good Cheerleading Flyer?
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While many assume the role of flyer is passive, it is actually a quite active position in stunting. The flyer, or top person, in a stunt does much more than just being lifted and tossed by the bases. Flyers climb, jump, balance and twist when they are stunting. By learning proper technique and asserting yourself, you can contribute a great deal to the success of a stunt as a flyer.
One of the most important skills a flyer must master is proper body awareness. You need to be able to sense whether your body is in proper alignment or not. In a two-foot stunt, your feet should be hip-width to shoulder-width apart, and the center of your body should be aligned over an imaginary point directly between your two feet. In a one-foot stunt, your body should be lined up over your standing foot. Make sure to do mental checks frequently to assess if your body is properly aligned while building a stunt, at the top of a stunt, and during the dismount.
As a flyer, you must be in control of your own body. When loading into a stunt, jump hard off the ground getting your feet up high before you land in the load-in position. Gently place your feet in the hands of your bases. Do not make them reach for your feet, and do not kick them in the stomach with your feet. As you ascend, stay in control of your weight by pulling your shoulders up to help the stunt rise. When you get to the top of your stunting position, pull your abdominal muscles in and squeeze your butt muscles to tighten your body, making yourself easier to base. In your dismount, keep your body tight and actively assist in your descent. Whether you are popping down to your feet or cradling to be caught in the arms of your bases, keep your body straight and do not flail your arms.
Good balance is important to every flyer. When you are at the top of a stunt, your body must learn to adapt to any shifting that goes on beneath you. The best way to teach your body to balance properly is on the ground. Practice your different stunting positions on the ground. Once you have mastered a stunting position, with perfect body alignment, while solidly on the ground, try the position while standing on a pillow or a wobble cushion. These props will throw your body off balance a little, forcing you to make adjustments to continue staying upright. Training like this will make it easier for you to make balance adjustments in your stunts.
To be a good flyer, you must have exceptional flexibility. One-foot stunting positions such as the heel stretch, where you grab the heel of your free foot extending it up by your head, and the scorpion, where you grab your free foot behind you and stretch it up toward the back of your head, require flexibility in your legs, back, shoulders, and arms. A good way to increase your flexibility for these positions is by stretching through execution of the positions on the ground. If you are unable to grab your foot in any of the positions, use a stunt strap and loop one end around your foot while grabbing the other loop with your hands.
- Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images