Even though stunting is a cheer team involvement and flyers would be nothing without their back spotters or bases, there is still a huge responsibility of performance on the individual flyer. You not only need to have core strength, strong legs, and extreme flexibility, but you also need to have impeccable balance and know techniques to help make the bases' jobs easier and prevent injury. Below is a compiled list of exercises you can do on your own to increase your core and your balance. Plus tips you'll need to know once your in the air to prevent your team from looking like a pile of dominoes!
Exercises to practice on your own:
Practice standing on one foot in the liberty position. Start on the floor and use a chair if you need extra stability. As your balance progresses, you can take this exercise to the next level by using a safe and stable object to stand on such as a parking spot curb or a soup can. The best way to gain balance is to actually put it into practice and gain muscle memory. Also, whether your practicing on the ground, on an object or in the air, don't look down. This will throw off your balance.
Once you have mastered the above exercise, practice standing and holding your position in liberties, arabesques, heal stretches, bow and arrows, and scorpions on the floor. You need to feel comfortable performing these movements on the ground before you can take them to the air. Once your muscle memory has developed and you can easily perform each of these positions, practice transitioning between combinations of movements. Depending on how advanced your squad is, flyers may be expected to perform multiple positions in one lift.
Tips to remember when you are in the air:
- Make sure to lock your knees.
- Don't try to balance yourself. You may over correct and cause injury to you and your team. The bases will balance you and you'll need to trust them.
- If the ball of your foot is lower than the rest of your foot, lift your big toe to lift the front of your foot.
- If you heel heavy and your toes are higher than the rest of your foot, curl your toes or push them downward to level your feet. You want to keep your feet as flat as possible and provide your bases with a platform that's easy to work with.
- If you roll your ankles when in the air, you need to spend time strengthening them. This can cause serious injury that can prevent you from flying in the future. See the past article about strengthening your legs. If you are in the process of strengthening your ankles and your still having issues, you can curl your toes under while in the air. Also, your back spotters should have a firm grip on your ankles.
- Remember to lock your legs after push off and pinch your booty together. This will stiffen your legs and help your center of balance.
- If you collapse at the top of your stunt, you could be not locking your legs soon enough. Work on locking your legs immediately after you push off and make sure your butt isn't below your knees during loading into the stunt.
- If you're just not able to hit the stunt at all, have your coach and backs spotters time your groups on the lift and work on hitting you times in unison. Practice counting and mimicking the motions on the floor before actually putting it in the air.
- If you don't feel balanced once your up and you've tried all of the above, it could be the way the bases are holding your feet. Have your coach and back spotters make sure both feet are being held at the same level and the bases are actually making a platform with their hands.
So there you have it. A list of everything you need have in your arsenal to be a successful flyer. Add these tips and exercises to your daily fitness regiment to see specific results for your position on the cheer squad.