Sadly, bases don't always get the glory like flyers. But, bases are so important and a cheer team couldn't complete stunts and routines without them. One common misconception is that being a flyer is more dangerous than being a base. However, that's most certainly not true. Bases can tell you horror stories of injuries and nearly every base has been hit in the face by a flyer's foot, scratched, bruised, and kicked. Not just anyone can be a base; one must have the strength, confidence, and many other traits to base well and safely.
Here are a few traits bases must have and should always be working on:
- Leg Strength
Having strong legs will minimize weight and pressure on the back. It's very important for bases to lift with the legs to prevent any back strain or other very serious injury. Building up leg strength will become one of your main lifelines for basing. One of the most basic exercises that really builds muscle in the legs is lunges. Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Place your right leg a step ahead and bend your right knee. Remember to keep your back straight while you lower your body until your left knee touches the ground. Finally bring your legs together and repeat the exercise by alternating legs. You can add dumbbells once you're ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge.
Another really good one (and by good I mean really hard) is squats. Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Pull your belly button towards your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Slowly lower your body until your butt is in line with your knees (knees at 90 degree angles). If you can't go down that low, go as low as you can. You might also find it helpful to extend your arms straight out in front of you for balance. As you are lowering, make sure your knees are behind your toes. While keeping your weight in your heels, slowly push your body back to starting position. Make sure not to lock your knees when you reach the top of the starting position. Perform in repetitions and increase the repetitions gradually as your body adapts to the exercise. You can add dumbbells once you're ready to progress. Remember to start off with lighter weights and increase when you are ready for a challenge.
- Arm Strength
If you're a base for a cheerleading team, you are well aware that arm strength is crucial to becoming a better base. Tossing, lifting, twisting and catching other girls in the air is not for the faint or weak. Many females, in general, tend to lack the arm strength their male counter parts have, so arm strengthening is the key ingredient to a cheerleading base's exercise routine. Pushups are the most obvious exercise to build up your arms.
A more advanced exercise is upside down pushups. Get into position by doing a handstand against the wall (you'll be using the wall to help you keep your balance). When you do the handstand, make sure your not too far away from the wall by placing your finger tips as close to it as possible. Positioning yourself too far away will cause back and neck strain. Lower your body by bending your elbows and keeping your body straight against the wall. Then straighten your elbows to push back up. This exercise will have better results when done in multiple repetitions.
- Straight Backs
Good posture is important for bases. Not only does it help strengthen your back, but it also helps prevent injuries. One of the most common types of bad posture is having rounded shoulders (this is when you're slumped forward and your back is slightly curved). Here's one way to help fix that, thanks to Women's Health Magazine: "Lie facedown on the floor, with each arm at a 90-degree angle in the high-five position. Without changing your elbow angle, raise both arms by pulling your shoulders back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds. That's one rep; do two or three sets of 12 reps daily."
- Extreme Focus and Timing
It's crucial for bases to maintain proper eye contact and to always be alert. If you need to, count out your routine in your head so you stay on beat. Bases should practice synchronizing their moves together. If you lift just a moment to early or late, the lift looks sloppy.
- Properly Lifting and Catching
This is what your coach will teach you. As we mentioned before, never left with your back; rely on your legs and your arms. Stand as still as possible while the flyer is lifted and in the air and always keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Look for cheer shoes that have enhanced gripping so you never have to worry about slipping.
Don't forget to focus on your safety and the safety of your flyers! Here's a great video that briefly discusses safety tips for bases: