How to Do a Basket Toss in Cheerleading
A basket toss is a skill that highlights each position in a stunt group: The bases must be strong and able to toss the flyer into the air, and the flyer must literally fly through the air with grace and precision.
Because it requires excellent timing, strength and balance, the basket toss should not be performed by novice cheerleaders. It is an advanced skill that is often performed by college squads and other high level teams during performances and competitions.
Once you master the basic basket toss, you can then move onto more difficult variations like a kick full or back tuck basket.
As in any stunt, you need to begin with all bases in a tight unit with the flyer in the center. In this case, the two side bases need to interlock their arms so that they create a square-shaped platform for the flyer to balance on. To do this, each base must grip their left forearm with their right hand. Their left hand then grips the right forearm of the other base. The bases’ grip should be lose and their wrists flexible.
The back base should have their hands on the flyer’s waist to help load him or her onto the platform created by the bases.
If you choose to use a front spot, he or she should be at the head of the stunt, facing the flyer with hands positioned underneath the bases in order to help them toss the flyer into the air.
Once all members of the stunt group are in the proper loading position, it is time to perform the actual toss. Although all stunt group members must be in-synch, they all have very different roles to make the stunt work.
The back base should call an eight count to start the stunt:
“One, Two:” All members should be in position.
“Three, Four:” The bases should bend their knees while the flyer puts his or her right foot on the basket.
“Five, Six:” The flyer should load in with his or her left foot, while the bases dip down to absorb the weight of the flyer’s entire body.
“Seven, Eight:” The bases toss the flyer into the air.
Directions for the Side Bases:
- You must use the strength of your legs and arms to toss the flyer into the air.
- As the flyer loads into the stunt, you should bend at the knees, while keeping your interlocked hands at waist level. It is important that you do not bend your back to absorb the weight of the flyer because that can lead to injury! When stunting, always keep your back straight and bend at the knees only.
- To help the flyer stay balanced on the platform created by your arms, bounce down by bending your knees with your feet planted on the ground.
- From the bent knee stance, you and the other side base should simultaneously straighten your legs and thrust your arms upwards while keeping them in the basket position.
- When your arms are fully extended upwards, release contact with the other base and with the flyer while you flick your wrists. This will give the flyer one last boost into the air.
Hot Tip: Practice the Toss
Practice the tossing motion before you actually load the flyer into the basket. Your timing must be completely in-synch, or the flyer will be thrown crooked into the air. When you are practicing, pretend like it is the real deal—use proper technique and toss with all your strength.
- First, you have to support the flyer by putting your hands around his or her waist. This will help them balance while being propelled into the air.
- Once the flyer is stable, bring your hands down to aid the side bases as they start the toss. You should grip the underside of the basket formed by the hands of the side bases and push up. This added strength will help the flyer get higher into the air during the toss.
- Remember that even while helping out the other members of your group, you must always keep time and call out the eight count.
- From the loading position, stand on the hands of the bases, one foot at a time. Place only the balls of your feet on the bases’ hands, not your entire foot. The side bases will bounce down by bending their knees on “three, four” and “five, six,” which should be low enough for you to lift your feet onto the basket.
- On “seven, eight,” the side bases do one final bounce. At the top of the bounce, you must push off of both the basket and the shoulders of the side bases.
- Once they flick their wrists, you should be in full flight and unconnected from the bases.
- While airborne, keep your back straight and legs locked out, so that your body is in a straight line.
- You should remain in this position until you reach the peak of the toss, at which point you can hit a motion or do a trick.
Hot Tip: Straight Ride
A straight ride occurs when the flyer keeps his or her body completely straight while airborne, without pulling any kind of trick. Practicing a straight ride will teach the flyer to reach the peak of the toss, which is crucial for doing more advanced stunts. If a flyer pulls a trick before the peak, they will not have enough time to finish the trick before being caught by the bases.
Once the flyer is airborne, the bases should immediately prepare for the catch. This means watching the flyer at all times.
The flyer should get ready for the catch by finishing the trick and softening their body position. Bases cannot catch a stiff flyer! When the flyer starts to descend back downwards to the stunt group, the back base should catch him or her under the arms as the side bases support the flyer’s lower back and legs.
During a basket toss, it is common for the flyer to be tossed at an angle. If this happens, the bases must move in order to make the catch.
The basket toss is a stunt that all advanced cheerleaders should be comfortable performing. It is a sure crowd pleaser and a must-do-skill when competing. Take the time to perfect the basic toss and straight ride before moving onto advanced variations of the stunt.
As always, put safety first! This stunt can be very dangerous, so always use spotters and keep your eye on the flyer!