Master the Fabulous Full Down in Cheerleading

Indiana Hoosiers cheerleaders perform during a game
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A full down, or twist, cradle is one of the most beautiful cradles in cheerleading. The United States All Star Federation, or USASF, defines a full as a 360 degree twisting rotation.

Full downs are legal from two leg stunts at Level 3 and above and from one leg stunts are allowed at Level 4 and above.  

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Set It Up!

cheerleaders preparing for the move

  Christy Mitchinson

Before learning to full down, the stunt group should be proficient in straight cradles from both prep and extension. In addition, the full down should always be mastered from two legs before moving on to one-leg full downs. This tutorial assumes that your stunt group already knows how to do these skills and starts from the prep.

**Note: This tutorial is not a replacement for training by a certified, insured coach. Always stunt under the supervision of a qualified coach, using the appropriate safety equipment—in this case, floor mats.**

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Step 1: The Sponge

cheerleaders starting the move

  Christy Mitchinson

Count 1:

Bases: Make sure that flyer’s feet are no more than shoulder’s width apart. Sponge, by bending deeply with your knees.

Back Spot: Maintain contact at ankles during the sponge.

Flyer: Place arms in a High ‘V’ motion. Maintain a straight, tight body position throughout the sponge, being careful not to bend knees.

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Step 2: The Pop

cheerleaders preparing to throw

 Christy Mitchinson 

Count 2:

Bases: Explode up through your legs and push the flyer’s feet upward by extending your arms and releasing her feet to throw her above your head. Keep arms outstretched overhead to reach for the flyer as she comes back down.

Back Spot: Release ankles pushing upwards and raising your arms above your head to reach for the flyer.

Flyer: Stay tight and extend arms above your head as you ride the pop to the full height of the cradle. Remind yourself to ride the pop by thinking ‘ride it up, twist it down.’

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Step 3: The Twist

cheerleaders doing the throw

  Christy Mitchinson

Count 3:

Bases & Back Spot: Maintain your position with your arms extended to reach your flyer. Make certain to follow her if she turns to the side by turning your entire stunt group.

Flyer: Initiate the twist, at the peak of the ride, by pulling your arms into your chest. Your arms should come down tight and straight by your body. To twist left, lift and pull your right hip up and over to the left and turning your head to look left. To twist right, lift your left hip and look right. Keep your eyes open as you follow through the twist, spotting the ceiling as you finish one complete rotation.

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Step 4: The Catch

cheerleaders completing the move

 Christy Mitchinson

Count 3:

Bases: As soon as you can touch the flyer, grab her and pull her into you, sponging with her weight. Tilt your head slightly to the right to avoid bumping heads. Your back arm should be behind her back and your front arm should be under her thighs.

Back Spot: As soon as you can touch the flyer, grab her by placing your arms, outstretched as in candlesticks, under her arms and pull her to your chest, sponging with her weight.

Flyer: Quickly clean the cradle by pulling your body into a tight, straight position with your arms by your side. Lean back slightly, bend at the waist and pull legs up to form a ‘V’ shape with your body. This is referred to as a ‘V-Sit.’ It is especially important when twisting to use your ab muscles to pull you into a tight V-sit during the cradle. Failing to hold that position could cause you to tip backward in the cradle.