Cheerleading liberty stunts date back over 30 years. In 1976, the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) performed the stunt for the first time at a summer camp. From that time, the liberty has gained a number of variations, but the basics of the stunt remain the same.
A one-legged stunt at intermediate to advanced levels of cheerleading, the liberty can be performed as a stand-alone or as an element of a larger routine.
For the ground-up liberty, a flyer lifts into the air on one leg. The bases and back spot help push her up and then stabilize her. Once in the air, the flyer performs a liberty move.
In the move, the flyer bends her free leg so that her foot rests on the inside part of her locked leg's knee. She finishes by raising her arms in a "high V." The stunt holds for a moment before the dismount.
Parts of a Cheerleading Liberty Stunt
As with all cheer stunts, a successful liberty stunt is only possible when all members work together. Each cheerleader has an important role in making the stunt appear smooth and precise. It takes timing, focus, and practice.
- Primary Base: Holds the flyer's foot at the heel and toe. The primary base takes on most of the initial weight.
- Secondary Base: Faces the primary base, two to three feet apart. The secondary base also holds onto the flyer's foot, placing one hand under the foot and the other, above it in a "hamburger" grip.
- Back Spot: Stands behind the flyer. The back spot helps the flyer extend into the air by pushing upward, as if she was sitting in a chair. Once extended, the back spot provides extra support and balance for the flyer's locked leg.
- Flyer: Performs the liberty. The flyer starts by placing her right foot (the locked leg) into the bases' hands. Using the bases' shoulders for support, the flyer readies for the ride up. On the count, she extends into the air and pulls into a "lib." This should all be in one motion.
- Front Spot: (optional) Stands in front of the stunt. A front spot adds extra support. She holds onto the bases' wrists.
Standing Tall: The Liberty
To help execute a stunt, cheerleaders count off to keep the timing right. Counting from one to eight, each number is associated with a different part of the stunt. For cheerleading liberty stunts, the count may be like:
- Get in position. The flyer steps into the bases' hands and uses their shoulders for support. The back spot holds the flyer from behind, like a chair.
- As a unit, all members dip down.
- As a unit, all members push off. The flyer off the bases' shoulders; the bases, the flyer's foot; the back spot, the flyer's rear.
- The bases push the flyer upward over their heads until their arms lock into a straight position.
- The liberty is performed.
- The stunt holds.
- The dismount begins.
- The flyer falls into cradle position (twist is optional).
Variations of the Liberty
Once you master a liberty, a squad may try variations of the lift. These range in difficulty depending on the level of cheerleading. For some, the flyer will need to display a great deal of flexibility:
- Heel stretch
- Bow and arrow
If your liberty stunt isn't quite working, do not despair. It takes time and practice to get any cheerleading stunt right and the liberty is no exception. Being a one-legged stunt, the liberty's two biggest challenges are balance and weight distribution.A flyer must stay centered throughout the stunt and the bases, steady. Any movement can lead to a shift in weight and consequently, a collapsed liberty. If the lift is performed as part of a larger routine, there could be a major ripple effect.
Keep in Mind
- Balance: If the stunt leans to the right, it's commonly because the flyer is pulling her free leg to the side of her locked leg. Instead, the flyer should pull her hip forward (not to the side) until her thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Weight distribution: If the stunt feels "heavy," it may be because the unit is not properly timing the dip and push-off.
- Strength and focus: Each member uses her own strength to make the stunt happen. The flyer must keep her body straight. To balance, she should focus on a fixed point in the distance. The bases meanwhile, must keep their arms locked until the stunt is set to dismount. They also must keep their eyes on the flyer at all times, ensuring balance and quick correction if needed.