List of cheerleading stunts

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U of S Huskie cheerleader stunt UofSHuskyCheerleaders.jpg
U of S Huskie cheerleader stunt

In the competitive athletic sport of cheerleading, stunts are defined as building performances that display a team's skill or dexterity. Stunts range from basic two-legged stunts, one-legged extended stunts, and high-flying basket tosses. Stunts are classified into seven levels of increasing difficulty. There are two recognized styles of stunting: coed and all-girl. Cheerleading teams are restricted to specific stunt rules based on the guidelines of certain associations, organizations, and their designated level. Therefore, some stunts may be permitted in certain divisions but illegal in others due to different stunt rules and regulations. The level of difficulty an organization allows depends on where the team stunts and practices as well as the type of organization they are a part of (school, club, college, etc.). While high school cheerleading can have teams with high-caliber stunts, collegiate cheerleading tends to focus on the pyramid aspect of stunting. Having two flyers on top of two bases is very common in college cheerleading. In most situations, club cheer, also known as all-star, performs a classic type of stunting. All-star cheer is governed by the United States All Star Federation and the International All Star Federation which divides teams into different levels from one through seven, which then determines the difficulty of the stunts being performed. [1]


Ponte Vedra High School Sharks performing a stunt PVCheer.jpg
Ponte Vedra High School Sharks performing a stunt

Athletes Involved

A "group stunt" will typically involve a flyer, two bases (one main and one side), and a back spot. Group stunts occasionally include a front spot. These can be all-girl or co-ed. A "partner stunt" will involve two athletes - a flyer and a main base. These tend to be co-ed, but all-girl versions do occur. A third athlete, a spotter, will be involved depending upon the skill level of the stunt executed and the rules and regulations for that skill. [2]


The flyer, also known as "top girl", is the athlete who is lifted into the air during a stunt or pyramid. Since many of the body positions a flyer can perform require a high level of flexibility, this is a desired trait for the role. Flyers are also typically the shortest and smallest members of a team, but any member can act as a flyer depending on their abilities and the needs of the team. The flyer's main job is to squeeze their muscles together in order for their bases to be able to perform stunts from below them. The flyer can make or break the stunt since they have control over what is put up in the air. [3] [4]

Extension by Ponte Vedra High School cheerleaders Extention.jpg
Extension by Ponte Vedra High School cheerleaders


Bases are the athletes that hold the flyer or "top girl" in the air during the stunt. Bases are very strong and are usually assigned together based on height to create an even platform for the flyer to perform an action. The bases are responsible for understanding grips on the flyer's shoes so that the stunt can flow smoothly. It is crucial that bases stay in the same position when they toss so they are able to catch the flyer safely in a cradle position. [5] Different levels of stunting come with different styles of grips for the bases. [3] [4]


Cheerleaders from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida performing a prep Charlotte Tarpon cheerleaders prep.jpg
Cheerleaders from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida performing a prep

Spotters are additional athletes whose primary responsibility is to watch the stunt and assist the flyer in the case of a fall or accident. Their main goal is to protect the flyer's head and neck from injury. [3] Spotter involvement can range from constantly holding the stunt, such as a back spot, to standing at the back of a cheerleading routine should an incident occur.


The safety rules for the sport of cheerleading are in place to protect the athletes from avoidable injury and encompass all aspects of any given routine. They are meant to ensure that athletes are trained correctly in each aspect of the sport. [7] As cheerleading has evolved, a basic set of safety expectations has formed to mitigate the risk of catastrophic injury. For example, spotters are often used to protect cheerleaders as they learn new stunts. [8] Teams are expected to be under the supervision of a trained coach and are encouraged to only perform high-level stunts and tosses when mats are available. High school, college, and all-star competitive cheerleading follow different rules, in reflection of the varying levels at which the cheerleaders perform. [9]

Stunting rules and regulations for middle and high school cheerleaders are usually created and enforced by that particular state's athletics governing organization, with many following the American Association for Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA) guidelines or the National Federation for High School Athletics (NFHS) handbook. [10] [11] They may include general safety rules about what types of surfaces the participants may perform stunts on (for example, some states do not allow stunts on hard surfaces like a track or basketball court) as well as more specific rules about which stunts, pyramids, and tosses are permitted.

Rules for collegiate squads in the United States are usually similar across the board and are created by USA Cheer. [12] The standard to which these rules and regulations are enforced depends on whether each university classifies cheerleading as an official school sport, club, or some other type of activity. Due to their greater experience and skill set, college cheerleading teams are often able to carry out stunts from a higher skill level without compromising safety. [9] College squads are allowed to do more difficult stunts, such as building pyramids to two and a half people high, while lower levels may only build up to two people high. This is because it is far more dangerous to stack three people on top of each other than it is two, due to the increased distance from the ground and higher likelihood of catastrophic injuries. While the sheer amount of athletic ability required may make it seem more like a sport, no college cheerleading team is formally recognized by the NCAA as a sport; therefore, the rules are not set by the NCAA, but instead by Varsity. [13]

Types of Stunts

Basic Two-Leg Stunts

While these are just the basic type of stunting, they are also the fundamentals of more advanced variations of stunts.

Liberty stunt by Ponte Vedra High School cheerleaders Ponte vedra.jpg
Liberty stunt by Ponte Vedra High School cheerleaders
Extension Allgirl Cupie.jpg
A split lift Cheerleaders from the New England Patriots (2004).JPEG
A split lift

One-Leg Stunts

Single Base Stunts

Coed Style Tosses

Transition Stunts

Transition Stunts: Any stunt where the flyer changes to a novel position differing from the starting stunt. [30] [31]


Twisting transition: Includes 1/4 twisting transition, up to 2 and a 1/4 twist

Body Positions

Although a Liberty is the basic one-leg stunt, flyers will often perform body positions that showcase their flexibility. Some of these positions are quite difficult and may help increase a team's score at a competition. All body positions can be done at the prep (chin) or extension (above head) level.


Common Dismounts

Basket Tosses

Basket Toss Basket Toss.jpg
Basket Toss

The basket toss is not a difficult skill, but it is one that can involve significant risk if not performed properly. [6] The name "basket toss" comes from the interlocking grip the bases form with their hands in order to launch the flyer. The flyer is thrown from a load-in position, at which their interlocked hands rest at the belly button, and may perform skills or tricks during the toss before being caught in a cradle position. The positions listed below are some of the more common skills performed during a basket toss. However, there are many variations. Teams are always working to create new and innovative basket skills. Basket tosses are enforced to only be thrown while cheerleaders are on a soft surface to ensure safety. [5]


A two high pyramid Cheerleaders.jpg
A two high pyramid

A pyramid consists of two or more stunt groups connected by the top persons holding hands, feet, waist, or legs. [14] There are many varieties of pyramids, ranging from simple waist-level skills performed by younger teams, to multi-person high pyramids performed by elite college teams. Typically, a pyramid section will use all athletes on a team as it takes many people to lift, spot, and catch a pyramid. Pyramid sequences are often fast-paced, and may involve a variety of heights, mounts, transitions, release moves, and dismounts.

A two and a half high pyramid Flick-Gator Cheerleaders.jpg
A two and a half high pyramid

Two High Pyramid

This is the standard type of pyramid and the most commonly performed. Each flyer is supported by a base, or bases, who are standing on the performing surface. [14] The flyers may connect with each other through many different grips, such as holding hands or one flyer holding another flyer's extended foot or leg. One flyer may even act as a bracer for another flyer while she performs a flipping or twisting release skill.

Two and a Half High Pyramid

This type of pyramid involves a third layer of people not supported by anyone standing on the ground. The bases will hold the middle level of flyers, usually in a shoulder level stunt, as seen in the standard two-person high pyramid. These flyers will then hold additional flyers, usually at the waist level. [14] Due to the height of this type of pyramid, this stunt is usually only performed by very experienced college or club squads as the potential for injury is very high. The Swedish Fall, the Wolf Wall, and the L Stand are all popular variations of the two and a half high pyramid.

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