How to Do an Elevator in Cheerleading
An elevator, also known as a prep, is the most basic stunt in cheerleading. It is a crucial skill for every team to learn because it serves as the foundation for all other stunts and teaches proper timing, body position and technique. Once mastered, the elevator can lead to other, more difficult skills such as extensions, liberties and slingshots.
Creating a Stunt Group
Before you can try any stunt, you must create a stunt group. A stunt group refers to the specific set of cheerleaders that make up all positions of a stunt.
There are four positions required to perform an elevator:
- Flyer: The flyer is typically small in stature so that they are easier to lift.
- Back Base: The back base should be tall because they have to support the back of the flyer.
- Two Side Bases: These cheerleaders should be just about the same height so that the stunt remains balanced. One of the side bases will also be the main base and will have to hold most of the weight—and be strong enough to do so—during one-legged stunts.
- Front Spot: For beginners, it is also beneficial to have a front spot for extra safety, but it is not mandatory.
Hot Tip: Mix & Match Stunt Groups
It is best to try out different combinations of cheerleaders when your team is just starting to put together stunt groups. For example, just because two people are the same height does not mean that they will be compatible side bases. Stunt groups typically stay together for an entire season, so it is important that all members work well together and are in-synch with timing and technique.
To begin, all members of the stunt group must be in the loading position.
- Flyer: Begin by standing in between the side bases with one hand on each of their shoulders. Lean into your stunt group—don’t be afraid to get cozy in-between your bases!
- Back Base: Stand directly behind the flyer with your hands on his or her waist. It can be helpful to have one foot positioned in between the legs of the flyer so that you can get closer to the stunt.
- Main Base: Stand to the right of the flyer with your back straight and legs bent. Your legs should separated slightly further than shoulder width apart. Your hands should be overlapping with palms at waist level.
- Secondary Base: You should be in the same position as the main base, but to the left of the flyer. You and the main base should be no more than two feet apart, leaving just enough room for the flyer to stand in between the two of you.
- When all of the stunt group members are in the proper loading position, the back base should begin to call out an eight count.
- On the first and second count, the flyer should step into the main base’s hands (the base to the flyer’s right side) with his or her right foot. The base must dip down as the flyer steps into his or her hands in order to absorb the weight.
- One the count of “three, four,” the flyer should step into the secondary base’s hand with his or her left foot. The secondary base should also bend down as the flyer loads in.
- On “five, six,” the side bases lift the flyer from waist to shoulder level, with the help of the back base. The side bases should turn their hands outward as they lift in order to grip the flyer’s foot by the heel and toes.
- The flyer, once both feet are held by the bases, should push off of the shoulders of the bases and stand straight up with their buttocks tucked in.
- The back base should help lift the flyer by first pushing upward on the flyer’s buttocks and then pulling upward on his or her ankles to take some of the weight off of the hands of the side bases.
- While moving the flyer from waist level to shoulder level, both side bases should keep their backs straight and push upwards with their legs. It is important for the side bases to avoid hunching over as they handle the flyer’s weight because poor form can cause both back injuries and the stunt to fall.
- While being lifted by the bases, the flyer must lock out his or her legs and stand straight up.
- The back base should help lift the flyer anyway possible. Once the stunt is up, the back base can either support the wrists of the side bases or the ankles of the flyer, depending on the stability of the different positions.
- When the stunt is in place, the side bases should have straight legs (shoulder width apart) and look upwards toward the flyer. The back base should watch the flyer as well, and the flyer should have his or her whole body locked out with arms in a high 'V'.
Hot Tip: Utilizing the Front Spot
Although many stunt groups don’t use a front spot for elevators, it is important to use one until the stunt has been mastered.
During the prep, the front spot should stand in front, facing the flyer. As the bases begin to elevate the flyer, the front spot can then grab the forearms of the side bases and help lift. Once the stunt is up, the front spot can place his or her hands on the shins of the flyer for support or hold the wrists of the bases for added strength.
If the stunt is already sturdy, the front spot can simply stand near the group in case of emergency.
On the Way up
This elementary skill is the starting point for bigger and better stunts, so it should be one of the first techniques learned by your team. Mastering the elevator can take time, but it is a good investment—once you have it down, the possibilities are endless!