If you cheer long enough one thing is certain: You will eventually have an oops moment. Stunts don't go quite right, wardrobes malfunction, or you forget your routine. Since cheerleaders perform in front of an audience, knowing how to handle it when things go wrong and how to avoid the same mistakes in the future are vital to becoming the best cheerleader you can be.
Types of Cheerleader Oops
When it comes to cheerleading mishaps there are dozens of things that can go wrong in any routine or stunt. Some cheerleading oops moments are more common than others.
In this video, the cheerleader is practicing tumbling and her pants fall down. Fortunately she has some shorts on underneath. However, wardrobe malfunctions are common for cheerleaders. Avoid losing a skirt or other clothing item by:
- Wearing a uniform that fits properly. If you've lost weight, ask for a new uniform or find out if you can have yours altered.
- Wear spankies or short leggings under your skirt or pants.
- Pay attention to how your clothing fits during warm-ups. If your skirt falls off during practice, you can be sure it will happen in the middle of the game.
Losing a Shoe
More than a wardrobe malfunction, losing a shoe can spell disaster for a flyer. In this video the cheerleader loses both of her shoes at the end of a stunt. To avoid this problem while performing:
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Your uniform sales representative should fit you for the shoes your team orders.
- Make sure the laces are snug all the way up the mouth of the shoe and tie them tightly.
- If you notice the shoes loosening during a game, slide away from the rest of the squad during down time or a simple sideline cheer where your presence isn't as necessary. Kneel down and quickly retie your laces.
Falling During a Stunt
Every flyer and her base would love to perform a perfect stunt each and every time, but the truth is that flyers fall. The girl in this video falls and does a couple of things that could have resulted in a serious injury. First, she didn't cradle and trust her base to catch her, which launched her to the side. She also put down her arm as though to catch herself which could have resulted in a fractured bone. Some other things both the flyer and base can do to keep from falling during a stunt include:
- Keep hips aligned straight, not popping one hip out.
- Legs should be straight and tight. Perfect extensions on a balance board before attempting in the air.
- Trust your base to catch you. It is scary to fall, but if you can cradle backwards during a fall, your back and side spots will have an easier time and you will avoid injuring them as well.
- As you go into the air, push off your side spots to help them lift you into the air.
- Be careful not to "toe" the flyer by pushing the front of her foot upwards. This can throw the flyer off balance.
- Both side spots should be similar in height or the taller one must accommodate by bending her knees so that the flyer's legs are at an even height.
- Catch your flyer, so she learns to trust you and will cradle.
No matter how prepared you are, there are times when your body doesn't respond to what your brain is telling it. The girl in this video clearly knows how to do a back handspring, but she fails to focus on technique and the result is an embarrassing moment. To avoid landing on your back instead of doing a handspring, remember:
- Bend your knees and sit back almost as though you are sitting in a chair.
- Jump, but do not double jump or step back before tumbling.
- Practice over and over in a gym with a certified coach before attempting such a stunt during a game or performance.
If you do make a mistake and land on your back instead of your feet, the best thing to do is exactly what the girl in this video did - smile, laugh and keep on cheering.
Other Oops Moments
Some oops moments are small and not readily caught on camera, but just as embarrassing. Here are a few more mistakes and how you can avoid them:
- Slipping - Test your shoes on the surface you'll be performing on to make sure they aren't too slippery. Scuff up the bottoms outside on the sidewalk if you need more traction at the last minute.
- Out of Sync - If you find you're a beat ahead or behind of the rest of the squad during a routine or dance, catch up or slow down by watching the other cheerleaders out of the corner of your eye.
- Throwing Up - Nerves can wreak havoc on a stomach, especially before a big competition. Plan to eat at least an hour before the event and eat only light foods and nothing too heavy or greasy.
- Mistakes in Routines - You're human and you may make a mistake. Keep going and pretend it is part of the routine. Most people won't notice the mistake.
The important thing to remember is that you're probably not the first cheerleader to be embarrassed over something that went wrong in a routine. Nearly every cheerleader has an oops moment at some point. Keep smiling and stay upbeat and people will quickly forget any mistakes.