Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Recently I saw a post from a former cheerleader that is now a coach and he asked for people to help him justify why good grips are important in cheerleading. There are a lot of stunters out there that only care about hitting a stunt but not hitting it clean. The post gave me something to write about.
What does “having a good grip” mean? It means your hand is placed on your flyer in the most optimal way to offer the most stable surface for your flyer to stand on. A “bad grip” would then mean just the opposite; your hand placement would be less optimal and would offer less support and stability for the flyer.
To me good grips show what level of mastery you have over a specific stunt. I don’t think stunters that hit stunts with a bad grip are choosing to do so, I believe they have just not mastered the skill yet. I always say there are 3 levels of mastery in stunting:
Level 1: You hit a stunt for the first time. You hit it, but it was more or less just luck; you have no idea what you did to hit it. Hitting at this point is not consistent yet.
Level 2: You start hitting it consistently with your partner, you get your timing down, and you can keep it in the air for most of the time. You have bad grips, but you adjust it a couple of times (or just hold it with your fingers facing the front, shoulder open, with a bent elbow, leaning to the side, hoping for your flyer to not move a muscle because you will dislocate your shoulder) and you keep it in the air.
Level 3. You grab a girl that has never done this stunt before and you hit it to a cupie with a perfect grip.
And that’s the difference between a good stunter that only got to the second part of mastery and a great stunter that has done thousands of reps with multiple girls and truly understands the stunt. This stunter will know how much to put in the stunt, when to do that, will be able to predict the position of the flyers feet way before they get to the point of contact with the hand, and will be able to position himself in the perfect way to hit it with the most optimal line 10 out of 10 times.
Stunting is fun, I have heard a person say that cheerleading is addicting, and if you have stunted before you know it's true. There are so many stunts that can be hit; it’s like playing a video game with unlimited levels and the next one is always so much better than the previous one. The thrill you get when you hit the hardest stunt of your life might be the reason why people rush through stunts and sometimes forget how important it is to hit them clean.
My personal take on this is, never stop pushing yourself, but keep in mind Bruce Lees quote: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”