While it may be the flyers who the untrained eye looks to first when watching an impressive stunt, we all know who the real unsung heroes are: the bases. Stunts wouldn’t happen at all if we didn’t have some rock-solid bases underneath those flyers! Here are a few of the top traits each and every base needs in order to succeed in both practice and during competition.
Legs of Steel
While it might look like stunting is all arms, we know that isn’t the case. A base’s legs are the most important part of a stunt, as they control how much weight and pressure is being put on the base’s back. This is why building up leg strength is one of the most important parts of becoming a successful base.
We highly recommend lunges for this reason. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart with your toes both pointing straight forward. Pull your abdomen in towards your spine as you step forward with one leg and bend that knee. While keeping your back straight, bend down and lower your body until the back knee lightly taps the ground. Push through the legs to bring them back together and step forward with the other leg this time. If this feels too easy for you, add some dumbbells! Just remember to start with lighter weights and only increase the weight you are using as you get stronger.
While legs are the most important part of stunting, your arms are nothing to scoff at. Both arm and shoulder strength are important to help with stability of the stunt. In general, women do have a harder time building up these muscles than men do, so there is a little more work that goes into strengthening this area for female cheerleaders. We believe that pushups are one of the simplest and most effective exercises for building up this arm strength!
Of course, for some, pushups are pretty easy and no longer provide the challenge they need to become better bases. If this sounds like you, try upside down push-ups. Get into position by doing a handstand against the wall. You will want to be as close to the wall as possible, however. If you are too far away, you are more likely to experience strain. Once you are ready, begin to lower your body down by bending your elbows and keeping your body against the wall.Then, straighten your elbows to push back up. Do as many repetitions as possible!
A straight back is critical for stunting, as arching or curving it can often lead to injury or straight. We commonly see rounded shoulders in stunts (where everything is slumped forward). In order to keep your shoulder strength up, we recommend handstand blocks and practicing strong posture throughout the day. If you are an athlete, make sure to wear your backpack properly so as to not develop any negative habits.
Focus and Timing
You can be the strongest base in the world and still be a terrible stunter. Not only one person lifts these stunts in the air! That’s why it is essential for you to be watching your other bases and to maintain proper eye contact. Always count out your routine with the music so you stay on the beat and work at the exact same moment as your fellow bases and flyer. We highly recommend that all bases work on synchronizing their movements so that the stunt will remain clean and sharp. Unbalanced basing means a sloppy stunt!
Your coach will teach you the proper technique for basing, so it’s up to you to listen to that advice. Never lift with your back, as your legs and arms can handle the weight the best without risking injury. Also, make sure your flyers wear specialty cheer shoes that have been designed for grip enhancement. This can make all the difference while you are stunting, especially when you move onto trickier liberty stunts.
The Worldwide Spirit Association welcomes all All Star Cheerleaders to our national competitions and local ones! Take a look at our schedule to see when we will be in a city near you. We look forward to seeing your team take the floor and show us what sorts of stunts you have perfected. We will see you soon!