Coordinating the count series, timing and motions of a cheerleading stunt is only the beginning of mastering a move. Once the flyer is in position for the stunt, what next? Well, she needs to be able to come back down to the ground safely, and the dismount should be performed as cleanly as the stunt itself.
The cradle is a basic stunt dismount used in cheerleading that adds a little flare to your stunt. Unlike the pop down dismount, the cradle involves the flyer going completely airborne. Once a stunt group is more advanced, they can add other moves to the cradle, like tumbling skills such as a twist or flip, to make it more exciting.
Though a basic dismount, the cradle still requires strength, agility, skill and trust among squad members. Members of cheerleading stunt groups need to have a fitness and strengthening routine to keep their bodies and muscles conditioned for the demands of stunting. Stunts and dismounts should only be performed under proper, trained supervision to ensure the safety of everyone.
Before any group attempts a stunt or dismount, they should discuss and decide on a standard count series. Each and every stunt and dismount a group performs should be done on counts, and it is typically the responsibility of the spotter to keep the beat and call it out. Timing is critical in stunting and dismounting, and new teams need to practice their timing as much as they practice their actual stunts.
How To Perform A Basic Cradle Dismount From The Elevator Position
- The bases must keep their eyes up, on the flyer, at all times during any stunt or dismount.
- The bases should lower the flyer back into the elevator position by dropping their hands down to their shoulders or chins.
- The bases will then perform the ‘dip and pop’ using the muscles of the legs (not the arms or back). The dip consists of them bending their knees (while keeping their backs straight) to help them gain momentum for the pop. As they are returning to the standing position, they should ‘pop’ by powerfully exploding in an upward motion. The pop is meant to be powerful, and the bases toes are likely to almost leave the ground, though the pop should not be jumping motion.
- Simultaneously to the dip and pop, the bases’ arms should extend straight upward in a locked position to propel the flyer into the air. As the base’s arms go up, they should naturally go into a criss-cross pattern with each other, which creates the ‘bridge’ that the flyer will land in.
- As the flyer descends, the bases catch should catch her at the highest point possible to decelerate her and absorb the motion and power of the landing. The bases’ back arms will catch the flyer on her upper to middle back, while their front arms will catch her just below and above her knees. The bases’ knees should bend with the catch.
- After the catch and a brief pause, the bases will gently pop the flyer back into a standing position so that she lands in front of them. Once the flyer has landed and is stable the bases should release their inside arm, which should be gripping the flyer’s waist and the entire group faces forward with the feet together and their arms at their side.
- During the entire dismount, the flyer should stay tight, keeping all muscles squeezed.
- The bases will perform the ‘dip and pop’. During the dip, the flyer will stay tight and let the bases dip slightly.
- On the pop, the flyer should pull herself upwards as she is being released from the bases’ arms. Her body should lean backwards, never forwards, with her back arched and belly facing the ceiling. Arm positioning is up to the flyer but must always remain tight and locked. Never pike during the stunt.
- At the top of the toss, as soon as she begins to descend, the flyer should shift into a V position, bending at the hips with her legs straight out and toes pointed. The flyer should always keep her abdominals engaged to support her back.
- The flyer must trust her bases, and should never look down during the cradle. The flyer will land in the arm ‘bridge’ of the bases, then allow them to pop her off into a sharp, finished position. Once the flyer has landed and is stable, the bases and spotter will release her and the entire group faces forward with the feet together and their arms at their side.
- The spotter’s main responsibility during the cradle dismount is to support the flyer’s head and neck, and of course be there to keep her from hitting the floor if anything goes wrong.
- The spotter will perform the ‘dip and pop’ with the bases, using the muscles of the legs (not the arms or back). As the group is returning to the standing position from the dip, the spotter will help the bases propel the flyer into the air by pushing her ankles up.
- The spotter’s arms will go straight up and prepare to catch the flyer on the highest point of her descent. The spotter’s arms will go underneath and push through the flyer’s arms, so it is important for the spotter to keep their hands in fists so they don’t scratch the flyer. The spotter’s knees should bend with the catch.
- After the catch and a brief pause, the bases and the spotter will gently pop the flyer back into a standing position so that she lands in front of them. Once the flyer has landed and is stable the spotter should release the flyer and the entire group faces forward with the feet together and their arms at their side.
Remember! It it is important for cheerleaders that are active in stunting to wear the proper cheerleading shoes and attire, for support and to reduce injury. When looking for shoes for cheerleading, it’s important to have finger grips, heel grooves, smoother traction on the bottom and flexible support. Your practice wear and uniforms need to be fitted so that no one gets tangled up in extra material.