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. Stunting in cheerleading has previously been referred to as building pyramids. Stunts range from basic two-legged stunts, to 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 teams stunt and practice as well as the type of organization they are a part of (school, club, college, etc). In most situations, “club” cheer, also known as all-star, do more of a classic type of stunting which is not as common in school cheer. 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.


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, or occasionally include a front spot. These can be all-girl or coed. A "partner stunt" will involve two athletes: one flyer and one main base. These tend to be coed, 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. [1]

The flyer is lifted into the air during a stunt and is on top of the stunt or pyramid. Because 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 shorter and leaner people on the team, but other members can act as a flyer depending on their abilities and the needs of the team. The flyer's main job is to squeeze her muscles together in order for her bases to be able to perform stunts from below her. The flyer can make or break the stunt since she has control over what is put up in the air. [2] [3]

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 a level 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. [4] Different levels of stunting come with different styles of grips for the bases. [2] [3]


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. [2] Spotter involvement can range from nearly 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. [6] As cheerleading has evolved, a basic set of safety expectations have formed to mitigate the risk of catastrophic injury. For example, spotters are often used to protect cheerleaders as they learn new stunts. [7] 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. [8]

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. [9] [10] They may include general safety rules about what types of surfaces the participants may perform stunts on (for example, some states don't allow stunts on hard surfaces like a track or basketball court) as well as more specific rules about exactly which stunts, pyramids, and tosses are and are not allowed.

Rules for collegiate squads in the United States are usually similar across the board and are created by USA Cheer [11] The standard to which these rules and regulations are enforced depends on whether each university classifies cheerleading as an official school sport, a club, or some other type of activity. Due to their greater experience and skill set, college able to carry out stunts from a higher skill level, without compromising safety. [8] College squads are allowed to do more difficult stunts such as pyramids building to two and a half people high. Lower levels may only build up to two people high. It is far more dangerous stacking three people on top of each other than just two. While the sheer amount of athletic ability 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, they are set by Varsity. [12]

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 1 through 7, which then determines the difficulty of the stunts being performed. [13]

Types of stunts

Basic Two Leg Stunts

Modified Prep—Like a prep, start with your hands cupped, then you pop up to a stunt at waist level.

While these are just the basic type of stunting, these are 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

Transition Stunts


  • Inversion: This is a transition stunt where the flyer's hands are on the bases shoulders and the flyers shoulders are below his/her waist, while the feet should be above his/ [17] her head.
    • Rewind (backwards free flipping from ground level): A rewind is a cheerleading stunt where the flyer begins on the ground in a standing position. They are then thrown into the air where they perform a backwards flip and land on their feet. The bases or coed partner assist them by throwing them high enough to flip, and they also help initiate their rotation. The flyer must flip quickly and then let themselves out of the flip in time to land on their feet. They can land on one or two feet in an extended or prep level stunt. [18]
  • Free flipping
  • Side-somi to stunt
  • Ground level handstand released to hand in hand


  • Switch Up: A switch up is a stunt where a flyer begins the stunt on one foot, gets tossed into the air on that beginning foot, and lands on the other foot. This requires the bases to throw the initial foot and then catch the other one in an extended position, landing in a liberty or heel stretch. The flyer is the one who does the switching, they lift their foot out of the bases hands and replaces their other foot in the same spot to be caught by the bases. It may also be referred to as a tic-up. [19]
  • Tic Toc: In this stunt, the flyer begins in a Liberty stunt standing on one leg, and is gently released so they can switch to standing on the other leg. This can be performed in a group stunt with two bases and a back spot, or as a partner stunt with just one base underneath. The action looks visually like a quick switch of legs, and the flyer appears to effortlessly hop from one foot to another. This stunt can be performed starting from and body position, not just a liberty. They can switch from heel stretch to heel stretch, scale to scale, heel stretch to liberty, the possibilities are endless. [20]
    • Low to High (Full twisting tic toc to extended 1 leg stunt): This stunt begins on a single leg pressed to the top, then lowered into a prep still on the initial single leg. After reaching the prep, the bases throw and release the flyer’s foot and catch her other one in an extended position. The flyer holds her body position on her first foot throughout the first extended position and into the prep. Then, they flyer will switch their foot and replace it to land at the top landing in another body position. [16]
  • Ball up
  • Straddle up
  • Helicopter release: This is a stunt where the flyer gets tossed into the air while doing a 360-degree horizontal rotation with their back parallel to the ground. This release should look similar to the blades of a helicopter. [21]
  • Twisting release: This is a full 360 twist where the flyer is thrown above her stunt group and completes the twist before being caught in the straight cradle position. [22]

Twisting transition

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

Body Positions

Although a liberty or “lib” 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 of the body positions can be done at the prep (chin) or extension (above head) level.


Basket Tosses

Basket Toss Basket Toss.jpg
Basket Toss

The basic basket toss is not a difficult skill, but it is one that involves significant risk if not performed properly. [5] 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 here are some of the more common skills performed during a basket toss, however, there are many variations and 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. [4]


Cheerleaders performing a two high pyramid Cheerleaders.jpg
Cheerleaders performing a two high pyramid

A pyramid is defined as two or more stunt groups connected by the top persons holding hands, feet, waist, or legs. [24] 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.

Cheerleaders performing a two and a half high pyramid Flick-Gator Cheerleaders.jpg
Cheerleaders performing 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. [25] The flyers may connect with each other through many different grips such as holding hands or one person holding another person'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 a standard two person high pyramid. These flyers will then hold additional flyers, usually at the waist level. [25] Because of the height of this type of pyramid, they are 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.

Related Research Articles

Cheerleading Athletic sport based on cheering for a team

Cheerleading is an activity in which the participants cheer for their team as a form of encouragement. It can range from chanting slogans to intense physical activity. It can be performed to motivate sports teams, to entertain the audience, or for competition. Cheerleading routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes, and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting.

Synchronized swimming Hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics

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Contortion Performance art using skills of extreme physical flexibility

Contortion is a performance art in which performers called contortionists showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility. Contortion acts often accompany acrobatics, circus acts, street performers and other live performing arts. Contortion acts are typically performed in front of a live audience. An act will showcase one or more artists performing a choreographed set of moves or poses, often to music, which require extreme flexibility. The physical flexibility required to perform such acts greatly exceeds that of the general population. It is the dramatic feats of seemingly inhuman flexibility that captivate audiences.

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Handstand Hand-balancing posture in gymnastics and hatha yoga

A handstand is the act of supporting the body in a stable, inverted vertical position by balancing on the hands. In a basic handstand, the body is held straight with arms and legs fully extended, with hands spaced approximately shoulder-width apart and the legs together. There are many variations of handstands, all of which require the performer to possess adequate balance and upper body strength.

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Pin (professional wrestling) Professional wrestling term

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In professional wrestling, a neckbreaker is any throw or slam that focuses its attack on the opponent's neck. One type of neckbreaker involves the wrestler slamming an opponent's neck against a part of the wrestler's body, usually the knee, head or shoulder. The other type of neckbreaker is a slam technique in which the wrestler throws an opponent to the ground by twisting the opponent's neck. This also refers to a "back head slam" where a wrestler drops to the mat while holding an opponent by their neck.

Human pyramid

A human pyramid is an acrobatic formation of three or more people in which two or more people support a tier of higher people, who in turn may support other, higher tiers of people. People above the bottom tier may kneel or stand on the shoulders, backs or thighs of the people below them. Typically, the number of people in each tier is one greater than the tier immediately above it, resulting in a triangular structure reminiscent of the formation's namesake.

Aerial cartwheel Acrobatic move

An aerial cartwheel or side aerial is an acrobatic move in which a cartwheel is executed without touching hands to the floor. During the execution of a standard cartwheel, the performer's body is supported by the hands while transitioning through the inverted orientation whereas an aerial cartwheel, performer is airborne while inverted. To compensate for lack of support from the hands, leg momentum is employed to keep the performer airborne until the leading foot touches down. Aerial cartwheels can be executed while running or from a stationary, standing position. The front leg lunges and the back leg drives back creating momentum. Aerial cartwheels are also known by various other names, including side flip, side somersault, air cartwheel, no-hands cartwheels, or simply aerials.

A leglock is a joint lock that is directed at joints of the leg such as the ankle, knee or hip joint. A leglock which is directed at joints in the foot, is sometimes referred to as a foot lock and a lock at the hip as a hip lock. Leglocks are featured, with various levels of restrictions, in combat sports and martial arts such as Sambo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, catch wrestling, mixed martial arts, Shootwrestling and submission wrestling, but are banned in some sports featuring joint locks such as judo. The technique has been seen across a wide range of different combat sports and is reportedly over 2,500 years old, having been seen in the lost art of Pankration in the original Olympic Games.

Flying trapeze Aerial circus performing act

The flying trapeze is a specific form of the trapeze in which a performer jumps from a platform with the trapeze so that gravity makes the trapeze swing.

The following is a glossary of figure skating terms, sorted alphabetically.

The University of Kentucky cheerleading squad, representing the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, began in 1905 and the first cheerleaders were yell leaders who were usually males. University of Kentucky's first coed squad began in 1938 with four males and four females. The coed squad became the norm in the late 60s, early 70s. T. Lynn Williamson was the cheerleading advisor from 1978 until his retirement in 2020. Williamson oversaw the program and brought in coaches to help build and advance the cheerleading program. Willimason's role encouraged Dale Baldwin to attend the University of Kentucky, who was a member of the University of Kentucky Cheerleading squad when the team won its first national championship in 1985. The University of Kentucky cheerleading squad has won the Universal Cheerleaders Association National College Cheerleading Championship twenty-four times.

A Basket Toss is a stunt performed in cheerleading using 3 or more bases to toss a flyer into the air. Two of the bases interlock their hands. While in the air, the flyer does some type of jump, ranging from toe-touches to herkies before returning to the cradle.

Stunt is competitive cheerleading in a different format. In spring 2011, USA Cheer announced that 21 universities are now committed to this sport. STUNT requires high athletic skills and its competition format and scoring systems are unique. STUNT is being considered for NCAA Emerging Sports for Women status and has been designed to meet Title IX's requirements for intercollegiate sports. As of June 2020, the NCAA Division I Strategic Vision and Planning Committee did not recommend introducing a STUNT proposal into the next legislative cycle.

UNC-Chapel Hill Cheerleading

The University of North Carolina has run cheerleading teams since 1914, performing at Tar Heels sports events. They have frequently participated in cheerleading competitions at the national level. Currently there are two teams: JV and Varsity.

In Australia, competitive cheerleading is a rapidly growing sport.


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