Stunts in cheerleading look fascinating because of the stunning formations made by the cheer girls. The pyramid and stunts make the event visually enchanting. One of the most exciting parts of a pyramid stunt in cheerleading events is when those at the top are thrown into the air.
You can feel the thrill when you see girls thrown into the air, caught, and perfectly balanced on the palms of those at the base or middle. It looks scary, thrilling, and visually enthralling at the same time.
What are the requirements to be a flyer for cheerleading? There isn’t much that separates a flyer from any other cheerleader apart from the fact that the latter must have superb balancing techniques. A flyer must know the tactics to defy gravity, balance herself, and perform the stunts in the air with ease. To know what is special about flyers and what are the special requirements, please read the full article.
Who are Flyers in Cheerleading?
The cheer girls who are lifted into the air during a pyramid formation are called the flyers. You can only stare in awe when you see them twisting and jumping in the air, balancing themselves perfectly. They do it so effortlessly that you would not even feel the intense skill needed to achieve it, or the danger behind it.
There is a misconception among audiences and aspiring cheerleaders that flyers have the least work to do. People feel that since they are being lifted by the members at the base, there is nothing much a flyer has to do. However, that’s just a myth.
It is the flyer who has the potential to make the stunt or break it. If the flyer makes the slightest mistake, the entire formation will topple. She has the entire control over the stunt and must use her muscles strategically to help the people at the base to lift her into the air.
It is true that the base position demands immense labor and is a strenuous job. But, the flyer position is no less physically taxing and requires a huge effort in keeping the balance intact. It is also the most dangerous position in a cheerleading stunt.
A lot of parents dream to make their girls the perfect flyers in cheerleading. Many girls are enchanted by the flyers in stunts and dream to become one. If you wish to become a flyer, this article would help you out. Here, we will talk about the requirements to be a flyer in cheerleading, and how to prepare yourself for it.
What Is The Role Of A Flyer In Cheerleading?
There are three main positions in cheerleading stunts, namely, flying, basing, and spotting. Cheerleaders are allotted the positions and roles according to their capacities and only if they meet the necessary requirements.
The flyer position is also known by other names such as climber, mounter, and floater. It refers to the person or persons who get lifted high up in the air by those at the base. They perform movements and stunts while those at the base keep holding them.
At times, the choreography includes throwing the flyers in the air and catching them back in time. They land in the arms of the people assigned at the base position. Being a flyer is the most wanted position in cheerleading, offering thrill and attraction. At the same time, it also comes with its share of dangers.
Cheerleading is a team effort and each position has its own importance. The flyers cannot stay in the air or land safely if the bases do not offer proper support. Similarly, those at the base will not be able to support the flyers if they do not keep their bodies balanced and muscles tight.
They need to exercise full-body control and distribute the weight properly. A slight mistake can break the entire formation and cause grave accidents. Each member of the team must support the other to make the stunts and formations possible. However, which position you may be assigned depends on your height, weight, skills, and abilities.
Flyers require special skills to balance their bodies at the top position while also performing the heel stretch or the scorpion in the air. Precision and correct sense of timing help an advanced flyer flip in the air and land safely again. You also need immense confidence and a rocking attitude to carry out the stunts with a bright smile on your face.
What Are The Requirements To Be A Flyer In Cheerleading?
Not all cheerleaders with a perfect body and crisp stretches have body control and balance. They may be strong enough to form the base, but for the flyer position, a cheerleader must be agile and confident. Here are some of the key requirements to be a flyer in a cheerleading team:
Flexibility is the first quality a flyer must-have. A stunt feels heavier in the air because of gravity pulling you down. If the flyer isn’t really flexible, the stunt will feel much heavier than it should. The more flexible you are, the easier it would be to carry out the stunts in the air. It helps to maintain the line where the shoulders, torso, and hips form a straight line and help keep the balance.
The flyer must be able to bring the leg to the hand and touch the toes without bending the body or moving the other leg. Such a level of perfection is vital while the cheerleader performs in the air, balancing herself on the hands of those at the base.
A slight lack of flexibility in doing the stretches or jumps can look visually unpleasant on the ground, but they can be dangerous and topple the entire formation in the air.
These are some techniques that help flyers increase their flexibility:
Stretch every day
Practice stretching every day until you achieve an advanced level of flexibility and move your feet close to the hands as you can in a bridge position. Lie on your stomach and bring to feet as close as you can to the head as you move your chest upwards and backward. Practice the splits to make them look effortless.
The Bow-and-Arrow, Scale, and Heel Stretch moves will come with ease when you practice advanced levels of stretching each day. For a more detailed guide on cheerleading exercises and stretches have a look at this detailed post.
Flyers must practice squeezing the muscles. When you are performing stunts in the air, you must know the art of squeezing all your body muscles to make yourself lighter for the bases. It also helps to achieve balance and is the key to flying.
Practice standing on one foot
Start practicing standing on one foot on the ground, keeping the resting feet absolutely still in one position. There should be no bending, sickling, and shifting from the position. Gradually move on to climbing up an elevated surface and practice standing on one foot in the air.
The mark of a true flyer in cheerleading is her balance. Not all cheerleaders know the art of balancing. Coaches train the team with the tactics of balancing and those who show the best results obtain the position of the flyer. It is the most vital quality that sets the flyer apart from others in the team.
While those at the base lift up the cheer girl on their hands, a lot depends on the flyer’s balancing techniques. She has to distribute the weight evenly and keep the body firm in a straight line. Even while pulling a body position, she must maintain the line at all costs. Even a slight bend in the front or the side or shifting of the leg can result in a fall.
Coaches ensure that the flyer can pull the body position in the air without losing balance. They also check whether the flyer can hold the position to two to three counts of eight.
This test proves that the flyer has acquired the right flexibility and balance needed to perform and hold the body positions in the air without moving her weight.
Here are some balancing techniques that train cheer girls to become successful flyers:
Always keep the body tight while being flexible at the same time. Keep the hips tight and in line with the bust, legs, and shoulders. Do not bend the knee or keeps the hips out. Squeeze in the muscles, keeping the feet joined, and lock the legs when you stretch.
This is another technique of staying tight applied by flyers. The person must imagine that she is squeezing an imaginary penny between the hips and tighten the muscles so that it does not fall.
When you imagine it and start squeezing it, you can feel the body tightening up. This makes the weight lighter for the bases, and it is easier to lift the flyer and balance her for long.
Step, Lock, and Tighten
First, the flyer must ‘step’ with one foot on the base. Then, she must bring the other foot up and ‘lock’ the legs together. Finally, ‘tighten’ means that the flyer should finish the stunt while squeezing the muscles and keeping the body tightened. This technique helps the bases to lift the flyer without difficulty and carry out all the positions with ease.
Last but not the least important criterion to become a flyer is to have huge confidence in your abilities. The task of a flyer is not free from risks. In fact, it is the most dangerous position in a pyramid.
But when you go up in the air, all your face must show is a great smile and a positive attitude. Keep your confidence high, and it would become easier to complete the stunts gracefully.
A flyer must have an outgoing personality and be confident enough to carry out the stunts. When the bases start lifting, she must focus on maintaining the line. A less confident flyer may break the line at this point when the formation moves. Even when slight adjustments are needed in the air, the flyer shouldn’t panic or lose confidence.
A cheer girl who lacks confidence is bound to make mistakes by miscalculating the sense of timing. Do not look down while going up in the air or performing. Look straight at the audience with a smile and be fearless.
What Is The Ideal Height And Weight To Be A Flyer In Cheerleading?
Lifting a cheerleader depends on strong people at the bases. At the same time, it is obvious that light flyers are easier to lift, carry, and balance. However, that is not the sole criteria to become a flyer. Often, taller girls have more body control than short and light girls.
The average height can be 5 feet to 5’3 and weight should be between 90 to 125 pounds. That would be the ideal height and weight for the flyer position. On the whole, you should not be too heavy or too tall if you wish to be a flyer. That would make it difficult for the team members at the base position to lift up the flyers and balance them.
Given the height and weight requirements for cheerleading (detailed post), you must also note that flexibility is vital to being a flyer. You must be extremely flexible and have great balance to perform the moves in the air. These are the primary requirements to be a flyer, while the height and the weight can be secondary criteria.
You can be a little taller or heavier than the average required criteria if you have a great sense of timing, amazing body control, and superb flexibility. The better a cheer girl knows to balance and distribute her weight, the better are her chances as a flyer.
Common Mistakes Made By Flyers
As mentioned, flyers can make or break a stunt. Flyers can make some grave mistakes which may result in accidents. To be at the flyer position and perform excellently, here are some mistakes cheer girls must avoid:
If the flyer keeps bending the knees, it will lead to improper weight distribution. This will affect the formation and disrupt the stunt.
Out of Line
Maintaining the line is important for a flyer. She must keep the body straight, keeping the core and the hips pulled in. Even a slight bent on one side or bending the hips can result in shifting the centre of gravity and weight distribution. The shoulders, core, and hips must remain in a single vertical line. The feet should also be together ideally. Always remember to squeeze in the hips while performing a stunt.
Lack Of Flexibility
A vital mistake for a flyer would be the lack of a flexible body. A less flexible body will break the line and disrupt the balance while performing the stunt. For instance, ensure that the flyer doesn’t bend while reaching the leg for a body position. The cheerleader must bring the leg to the hand without bending and breaking the line.
Moreover, the other foot must not sickle when you stretch one leg in the air. Keeping the other foot firmly in position is vital to keep the line intact even while you stretch.
Swinging The Leg To The Side
If you face even the slightest difficulty in swinging the leg to the side during a heel stretch or the bow and arrow, you will fail when you do it in the air. It is three times tougher in the air when gravity pulls you down. You will most probably break the line and bend the body if you throw the leg sideways. Instead, you can finish the stunt easily if you swing the leg in the front for the stretch.
It can be dangerous if the flyer’s feet sickle while standing on one foot. At times, when the flyer goes up in the air and tries a stretch or a movement while balancing on one foot, it sickles, making her go out of line. It can make her lose her balance and even ruin the entire stunt. Lock the leg before kicking it in the air to reach the arms while squeezing the muscles on the other leg to avoid sickling.
Importance of Cheer Shoes for a Flyer
Wearing the right cheer shoes can be a deciding factor for your safety as a cheer flyer. You are thrown up in the air and then caught during most of your flyer stunts. Wearing comfortable lightweight shoes with the proper grip is extremely essential. I would recommend Chassé Apex Cheerleading Shoes to be the best shoes for cheer flyers. If you want a more detailed guide have a look at this post detailing the various nuances.
The concluding thought for flyers would be the same as cheerleading in general. Practice, practice, and practice some more. It is only hours and hours of dedicated practice, abiding by the safety tips and techniques that can make you a successful flyer.
The art of flying is one of the most difficult tasks on earth, and it doesn’t come so easily. It comes at the price of immense hard work and its share of dangers and risks. A flyer must achieve mastery over this art with practice and dedication to make the body as flexible as elastic and as light as a feather with the right balancing techniques.
Practice the splits, stretch as much as you can, and learn the art of squeezing the muscles to balance yourself effortlessly. Above all, it is your confidence that can help pull off this commendable feat and give you the wings to fly high. Look into the mirror and perfect your positions with a cheerful smile on your face.
Get Ready with Your Basic Cheerleading Kit
A basic cheerleading kit consists of the minimum requirements that a beginner cheerleader needs for his/her practice and events. Proper uniform and comfortable shoes are a must and they help the cheerleader for his/her overall well-being and safety. This section will help you choose the uniform and shoes as per your requirements.
Cheerleading Uniform: Uniforms form an important part as you can well understand. Choose the proper uniform as per your school/event specifications. However, do take care to choose a fabric that is breathable and helps you stay comfortable during the performance. Relevant helpful resources:
1. What Fabric Is Used For Cheer Uniforms? A Common Question
2. Best Cheerleading Uniforms For Toddlers: Too Cute To Avoid – If you need an awesome cheerleading uniform for Halloween!
3. What Do Cheerleaders Wear Under Their Spankies? Demystified – Innerwear is important in this sport.
4. Check out Amazon’s Webpage for Cheerleading Uniforms – They have a good collection
Cheer Shoes: If you want to perform confidently as a cheerleader, you need comfortable shoes. Just as any other field sport, wearing proper shoes can make or break your performance. Choose the best fitting shoes as per your requirement. Some helpful resources for you:
1. Best Nike Cheerleading Shoes That Are Comfortable And Cheap – Comfortable and cheap cheerleading shoes from the best brand in this domain.
2. Best Cheer Shoes For Wide Feet That Fit The Way You Want – There are shoes specially designed for wide feet. This article helps you choose the proper one.
3. Check out Amazon’s Webpage for Cheerleading Shoes – They have shoes fitting everyone’s needs.
4. Check out the 7 Best Shoes For High School Cheer that are cheap yet comfortable.
Cheer Backpacks: Arranging things every time before your practice can be tedious. Keeping everything organized neatly in a backpack can be the key and help you save time and effort. I have made an exhaustive guide for you to choose the right cheer backpack for yourself at various price points. Do check it out if you need help.