Cheerleading is filled with many terms and definitions. Listening to cheerleaders talk can sound like your listening to something in a foreign language. Below is a list of common cheerleading terms that are often heard in a gym or at a competition.
8 count – The standard mark of time used to count out a section of a dance or routine.
Aerial – A cartwheel where hands do not touch the ground or floor.
All star – A cheerleading team that is not associated with a school or organization.
Arabesque – A stunt position where the flyer has one leg straight down and the unsupported leg pointed toward his or her back at a 90 degree angle.
Arabian – A tumbling skill that is characterized by a half twist into a front flip. The twist is complete before the rotation of the flip begins.
Back handspring – A tumbling maneuver where the cheerleader jumps backwards in a back-bend onto his or her hands and then quickly pushes from their hands to their feet. Also called a flip-flop.
Back tuck – A tumbling skill where the cheerleader jumps backwards and rotates head over heels, without putting their hands down, landing back on his or her feet. It can also be done in a forward moving direction, which is called a front tuck. Also called a back flip or tuck.
Back tuck basket toss – A basket toss in which the flyer does one (or more) head over heels rotation before being caught by the bases.
Back walkover – A tumbling skill where the cheerleader bends backwards into an arched position with hands making contact with the ground before rotating hips over head to land back on the ground, one foot at a time.
Backward dismount – A flyer dismounts (either with or without their feet being held) backwards to catchers who were not the original bases.
Barrel roll – Occurs when a flyer that is in a cradle position is tossed upwards and rotates 360 degrees, landing back in cradle position. Also known as a log roll.
Base – The person(s) that remains on the floor during a stunt while lifting the flyer.
Basket toss – A stunt consisting of three or more bases and a flyer where the bases interlock their hands and toss the flyer into the air releasing contact. Also called a basket or a toss.
Blades – A way to execute motions, but hands are flat and straight instead of in a fist.
Bow and arrow – A stunt that is a variation of the liberty. The flyer grabs the unsupported leg by the ankle with the opposite arm and pulls it around his or her body. The leg should be straight and very stretched. The flyer’s body is in the shape of a bow.
Briefs – Shorts worn under cheer skirt. Also called spanks or spankies.
Bucket – A basic motion where cheerleader holds his or her arms out in front on their body with fists facing down, as if holding two buckets.
Chair – A stunt where the flyer is in a sitting position on the hands of the base(s).
Choreography – The arrangement of dance steps and motions.
Chorus line flips – A skill in which a cheerleader flips between two other cheerleaders while locking arms and/or wrists.
Coed stunt – A stunt involving at least one male and one female cheerleader. The male is usually the base and the female is usually the flyer. Also called partner stunts.
Cradle catch – The end movement of a stunt or basket-toss where the bases catch the flyer under thighs and arms. Also called a cradle.
Cupie – When the flyer is in an extension with both of his or her feet pushed together. It can be done as a group stunt or partner stunt where both of the flyer’s feet are in one hand of the base. Also known as a kewpie or awesome.
Deadman – When the flyer falls backwards or forwards out of a stunt. The flyer is then usually pushed back upwards by bases.
Diagonal – A motion where one arm is in a high V position and the other arm is pointed in a downward V position.
Dismount – A way to return the flyer back to the ground after a stunt.
Double cupie – A partner stunt where the base is supporting two flyers. The base holds both feet of the flyer in one hand.
Double down – A stunt performed during a pop, when the flyer turns 720 degrees before being caught by bases.
Double Hook – A jump where the cheerleader bends one leg in front of his or body and the other behind with arms in a high V position. Also called a pretzel.
Drop – When the flyer drops to a knee, thigh, bottom or split position onto the floor from an airborne or inverted position without first breaking impact with hands or feet.
Elevator – Basic stunt where each sidebase holds the flyer’s feet at shoulder level while the backbase supports the flyer’s ankles or shins. Also called a prep.
Extended position – Any stunt or skill in which the flyer is supported by a base or bases whose arms are fully extended.
Extension – Basic stunt where each sidebase extends their arms fully with the flyer’s feet in their hands. The backbase supports the wrists of the sidebases. It can be done from the ground up or from an elevator position.
Facials – What cheerleaders refer to as their game or competition face. Includes exaggerated facial movements such a winking, nods and smiles.
Flyer/Flier – The cheerleader that is lifted into the air by the base(s) during stunts. Also called a top or mounter.
Full down – A stunt performed during the pop before a cradle when the flyer twists 360 degrees before being caught by the bases.
Handstand – Moving from your feet to hands then back to feet. Usually done in conjunction with other skills and can be done backwards or forwards.
Hanging pyramid – A pyramid in which one or more flyers are suspended from the stunt(s).
Heel stretch – A stunt where the flyer has one leg being held by the base(s) while the other leg is being held straight up by the flyer’s hand.
Helicopter – When the flyer is in a horizontal positional with a flat back and is then tossed upwards while rotating 360 degrees parallel to the floor before being caught by bases.
Herkie – A jump characterized by one leg bent backwards towards the ground and the other straight out to the side. Can be a right or left herkie. Also called a hurkie.
High V – A basic motion where the cheerleader has both arms fully extended and locked into a “V” shape with hands in outward facing fists.
Hitch – Connection of one extended stunt to another stunt at elevator level by foot-to-hand contact.
Hurdler – A jump similar to the herkie except that the bent leg is level with the straight leg instead of pointing down. There are side and front hurdlers.
Inverted – When a cheerleader’s shoulders are below his or her waist and at least one foot is above his or her head. Usually occurs in a stunt or tumbling maneuver.
Jumps – A basic component of cheerleading that requires cheerleaders to lift both feet off of the ground. Each jump has specific feet and hand positions.
K- motion – A motion where one arm is fully extended with fist pointed outward and the other arm is pointed across the body with fist facing downward.
Kick full – A skill that occurs at the top of a basket toss that requires a flyer to kick out and then complete a 360 degree twist. A kick double full occurs when the flyer rotates 720 degrees after kick out.
Kick toss – During the peak of a basket toss, the flyer kicks out one leg while keeping the other leg straight. Also called a bottle rocket.
L- motion – A motion where one arm is fully extended upwards with fist pointing inward and the other arm is at a 90 degree angle with first pointing downward.
Layout – Any straight or arched position. Usually refers to the position of flyer in a basket toss or to a tumbling maneuver where the cheerleader flattens his or her back in a back tuck.
Liberty – A stunt where a base holds the flyer with one foot in both of the base’s hands. The flyer’s supported leg is straight and the other leg is bent. There are also one armed liberties. Also called a lib.
Main base – The person who holds most of the flyer’s weight in a stunt. They are usually positioned directly under the flyer.
Motions – Basic hand and arms movements that are used to make up a cheer or dance sequence.
Paper dolls – When flyers in identical single leg stunts brace each other while in the air. May or may not be in an extended level.
Peel-off – Occurs when a team is divided up into two or more groups and perform the same movement, motion or skill at different times. Used for visual effect. Also called a roll-off or roll -away.
Pike – Refers to the position where cheerleader is bent at the waist with both legs straight out at a 90 degree angle. Position used in jumps and basket tosses.
Pop – When the bases are preparing to cradle the flyer, they bend at the knees to boost the flyer upwards and let go of the feet.
Post – The person who stands in front of a stunt for the flyer to lean on, usually to create a table-top.
Power press – When the base(s) brings the flyer down from an extended position to shoulder level and then re-extend arms back to extension level.
Prep – The motions performed to prepare a jump. Usually begins with a clap in an eight-count sequence.
Press – When the base(s) push the flyer up from a prep position to an extended position.
Prop – Any object used in a routine or cheer to enhance performance. Common props include flags, banners, pom pons, megaphones and signs.
Pyramid – Multiple stunts next to or connected to each other.
Reload – When the stunt group returns to the original stunt position with the flyer’s feet in the hands of the bases.
Rewind – A flip up into a stunt.
Round off – A basic tumbling skill that requires a cheerleader to end a cartwheel with both feet together. Usually used as a set-up for back handsprings, back tucks or tumbling sequences.
Routine – A choreographed sequence of motions, movements, stunts and/or tumbling put to music in order to be performed.
Scale – A fully extended stunt where the flyer holds his or her unsupported leg extended in a side stretch with the knee facing forward. The flyer usually holds extended leg by the calf or ankle.
Scissors – A skill performed during a basket toss, when the flyer splits his or her legs one direction and then the other before landing back into cradle position.
Scorpion – From the liberty position, the flyer grabs their unsupported leg by the toe and brings it behind the back to where it is almost touching his or her head.
Second level – Anyone being supported above the floor or ground by one or more bases.
Sell it – A term used when facials or attitude are exaggerated to make a routine or cheer more appealing and exciting.
Show and go – A transitional stunt that passes through an extended form of the stunt to land back in an elevator or loading position.
Slingshot – A stunt where the bases push the flyer upwards through the elevator position and release the flyer’s feet.
Split – A movement or sitting position in which the legs are spread apart, either to the sides or one in front of the other.
Spotter – A person who usually stands in back or front of a stunt for extra safety and control. Spotters can also be used for tumbling.
Straight ride – The body position of a flyer during a basket toss that does not involve any kick or twist. It is a straight line position that teaches the flyer how to reach maximum height in the air.
Stunt – Composed of a flyer and one or more bases. Occurs when the flyer is elevated in some fashion by the base(s). Also called a mount.
Stunt group – The unit that performs a stunt, usually composed of a flyer, two sidebases and a back base.
Suspended flip – A stunt where the flyer rotates head over heels, either forwards or backwards, while maintaining continuous hand to hand contact with bases or other stunt group members. Also called a suspended roll.
Swedish fall – A stunt position that can be done in a two high or two and a half high pyramid. The flyer is face down with their arms fully extended and their back arched while one leg is held straight and the other is extended upward.
Sweep – A controlled forward pushing motion performed by the bases to release a flyer from a stunt and into a cradle position.
T- motion – Motion where both arms are straight out at shoulder level with fists pointing downwards.
Table top – This stunt is characterized by an elevated flyer leaning or bending over and placing his or her hands on someone less elevated, thus making the flyer’s back flat like a table top.
Thigh stand – A basic stunt where the flyer stands on the thighs of two bases.
Tick tock – When a flyer switches feet in a stunt.
Toe touch – The most common jump performed. The cheerleader splits their legs to the sides with toes pointed and knees directed upwards, while the arms remain in a T position.
Top – Another word for flyer.
Torch – A stunt that is a variation of a liberty. The stunt is usually turned to the side and the flyer turns his or her torso in the direction of the bent leg. The flyer’s body is facing one direction from the waist down and twists 90 degrees to the side from the waist up.
Toss – A stunt where the flyer becomes airborne and releases contact from his or her bases. The bases perform an upward throwing motion to increase the height of the flyer before he or she is cradled.
Toss to hands – A stunt where a single base holds the flyer by the waist and tosses him or her upwards. The flyer jumps while being tossed, gaining enough height for the base to catch the flyer by his or her feet. The flyer ends in a standing position with the base holding both feet.
Transitional pyramid – When the flyer of one stunt moves to another stunt. The change may involve rotating bases, but the flyer always remains in contact with someone at a lower level.
Transitional stunt – When a flyer or flyers move from one stunt to another, changing the configuration of the beginning stunt.
Travelling toss – A toss that intentionally requires bases to move direction in order to catch the flyer.
Tuck arch – A move where the flyer tucks his or her body and then releases into an arched position. Usually occurs at the top of a basket toss.
Tuck jump – A jump where the cheerleader brings both feet to his or her chest. Hands are usually in a high V position.
Tumbling – Any gymnastics acrobatic skill that can be done on the ground.
Twisting mount – Mounts that begin with the flyer rotating either 180 or 360 degrees and end in an elevator, loading position or fully extended stunt.
Two and a half high pyramid – A pyramid that is higher than two body lengths, but does not exceed three body lengths.
Vault – A stunt in which the hands of a base or another flyer are used to help one flyer clear an obstacle like a prop, base or another flyer.
Waterfall – A stunt from the liberty position where the unsupported leg is pointed straight out in front of the flyer. The flyer then arches back while keeping their leg straight and foot pointed. Also called a fountain.
Whip back – Back handspring motion performed without putting hands down. Usually done in a series of back handsprings.
Wolf-wall transition – A transition that involves the flyer traveling over another bracing flyer’s leg. The leg of the bracing flyer extends away from the body and connects to a third flyer at a lower level by foot to waist. The main flyer can travel front to back, back to front, or side to side.
X- out – When the legs of a cheerleader performing a back-tuck split and straighten out to make an X shape.