Top Cheerleading Positions: Flying, Basing, and Spotting

Find out which position fits you best with this breakdown

Teenage girls high school cheerleading team performing double nine jump on sunny football field

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If you want to pursue the sport of cheerleading, you'll need to know all you can about the three main positions: flying, basing and spotting. With this breakdown, find out which role best suits you. When you try out for the team, you'll know what to expect before your competition does. 

How to Fly

The position of flyer in cheerleading goes by many names, including mounter, top, climber or floater. Regardless of what you call it, this position refers to the person who gets lifted or thrown into the air. It is probably the most sought-after position in cheerleading in that it offers the thrill and exhilaration of gracefully flying through the air and becoming the center of attention.

But cheerleading is a team sport and each position on a squad has its importance. No flyer can go up or come down safely without bases or spotters. And although weight and height might play a part in what role you fill on a team, it is your ability and skill that should ultimately determine your position.

Versatile cheerleaders should be able to fill any job they are needed in and will be an asset to their squad. Never limit yourself by thinking you can only do one thing. Under the right circumstances, anything is possible. By trying other positions you'll gain a better understanding of the responsibilities involved in each. This will make for a stronger squad.

Being a flyer requires several skills and abilities. First and foremost, you'll need confidence. Attitude is everything. Know you can do it because if you don't think you can, you probably won't. Moreover, you must trust your teammates and them you. If you trust them totally, you know that if you were to fall, someone will be there to catch you. With that out of the way, you can concentrate on what needs to be done.

This is a given, but it's worth repeating: If you want to fly, you can't be afraid of heights. You'll also need a good sense of timing. Everyone in a stunt should know what to do and when to do it. All stunting should be done to a count. The flyer should know that when the proper level has been reached to stick, hit or pull the stunt. The tips below can ensure your stunt goes smoothly.

  • Stay tight - Keep your hips and thighs tight (pinch a penny). Don't push out with your legs, this could spread your bases apart.
  • Use your arms - You should be able to hold your own weight. Lift yourself with your arms and help your bases.
  • Balance - It's much harder to hold someone up when they are wiggling around. Stay as stiff as you can and let your bases help balance you.
  • Keep eye contact with the crowd. When the flyer is up she should motivate and involve the crowd.

All About That Base

The base in cheerleading serves as the foundation of the stunt. Without bases, the flyer wouldn't go up, as it's the base's job to lift or throw the flyer. Although physical attributes may play a part in what position you fill (bases tend to be taller and stronger), it is your skill and ability that is important. And well-rounded cheerleaders can step in wherever they're needed.

To be successful, bases will need to use both their legs and arms. That is where the majority of your strength should come from. It should progress from your legs to your shoulders and then your arms. It's also important to keep your back straight, as bending your back or leaning will cause you to use your back to lift and may cause injuries to it.

Timing, as with other positions, is also important. Bases must be in sync with each other; they have to know when to dip, when to step and when to lock. Practice synchronicity without a flyer actually going up to avoid injuries.

Foot placement of bases is also important. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to stabilize yourself and the stunt. And, remember, no talking during stunts. Only the coach or person calling the stunt should talk. Silence will help you stay focused and catch your flyer if need be. Although this is technically the spotter's job, a good base should be capable of catching the flyer and assisting. The flyer should never fall and hit the ground. So, be prepared and alert at all times.

Being a Spotter

If there is one position in a cheerleading stunt that is the most important, it is the spotter or scoop. Being a spotter (sometimes called third base) is no easy task. The responsibility of preventing injury to the flyer rests on the spotter's shoulders or, rather, in her arms. A spotter should always be in contact with the performing surface and should be an alert, fast-thinking, aggressive and, preferably, taller person. Spotters usually are the people who call everything during a stunt.

Spotters assist the flyer into the stunt but are not the primary support. They help steady or balance the stunt and catch the flyer, if she falls, to prevent injury. Their role in stunting is huge and should never be taken lightly.

Spotters should be attentive and able to react quickly to any situation. Spotters can help build up the confidence and trust of flyers. If the flyer knows she will be caught, she can focus more on her flying technique. Spotters must have perfect timing and have to know how to save a stunt and not be afraid to do so.

A spotter cannot have any fear of catching the flyer or of being hurt by doing so. If anyone is to hit the ground, it should be the spotter. Unless a spotter has to check a grip, her eyes should be on the flyer at all times.

Whenever possible, the spotter should keep in contact with the flyer. This not only helps balance the stunt, but it will make the flyer feel more confident and secure. And if the flyer should happen to fall, the spotter should know how to catch her head and neck first. By catching the head and neck, the spotter can prevent the most serious of injuries. The spotter (and bases) should also catch the flyer at the highest point possible. This helps slow her descent.

As you can see, it takes a very special person to fill the position of spotter and the importance of this position should never be underestimated. But whether you serve as spotter, base or flyer, you should practice good safety guidelines. Safety should be your top priority. And don't forget to smile and have fun!