When you hear the word “Cheerleading”, you think of muscular men, flexible flyers and a team sport which can really wow a crowd. Everyone sees the colourful uniforms, the energetic dances and that trademark cheerleader expression. Right in that picture perfect frame of an extravagant pyramid, you may catch a glimpse of some “less glam” men surrounding the stunt. Nobody seems to care about them.
For the longest time, we’ve always downplayed the importance of spotters. Not on purpose but by ignorance and a certain “Oh I just need you to help spot” mentality, making it seem like it is a very simple thing to do. It is far from that I assure you. To know that you may get injured in the process and still be committed to saving the flyer in case of any unexpected outcomes, that’s a very difficult thing to accept but these guys take it in their stride. They take up this responsibility of being a part of the stunt and provide their own feedback where necessary. Of course, for seasoned cheerleaders, it will seem like a task that is not very demanding but the same cannot be said for the rest of us who are less experienced. Especially when you add an extra element to your usual basket toss, that’s when things can get complicated and like Teck Pin usually says, your balls may shrink. I apologize for such language but only that phrase can do justice to the feeling I am describing.
Nevertheless, no matter how he feels about the stunt, the spotter puts himself into the fray and protects his flyer. He can see how a flyer is falling but regardless of the way in which she falls or the ways in which he could injure himself while trying to cradle her, he will still put in that one arm to reduce the impact of the fall. Sometimes while the flyer is in mid-air, two thoughts will occur to you as a spotter. The first question is “How do I come in to help the bases?”. The second question, as part of natural human tendency to recognize oncoming danger, is “Am I going to get hurt in the process?”. Usually, the first question is answered with experimentation, you just go with your gut feelings based on what you can see, the accuracy of which improves with experience. The answer to the second question in most situations, turns out to be a “Yes” but their reaction still remains the same. A good spotter should be able to perform his duty without getting injured himself but sometimes, sacrifices have to be made. They put their bodies on the line for the flyer. They have no control over the execution of the stunt itself but they do their very best to ensure that it is as smooth as possible.
That is not all. Have you tried doing stunts without any spotters? Whats the difference between that and having 3 guys helping you to spot? They give you confidence. It is one of the best gifts anyone could ever give to you and it comes from people who are largely ignored. Sure, self-confidence, the belief that you can hit your stunts is important but sometimes, we need that external encouragement, sometimes even that pressure. As well as that assurance that in case something goes wrong, you and your partner will still be able to continue training for your routine because 3 guys would risk themselves to ensure your safety. Especially when you are trying something new. With spotters you feel like you could try anything and everything you want and eventually, you will see a breakthrough in your stunts. So just think about it, how much of a role do spotters really play in your improvement as a cheerleader?
Having said that, learning to do stunts without spotters is an important step for any winning team. This prepares you for an actual situation during a competition routine where certain stunts may not have spotters at all. Even if they do, you would not want them to be involved either. That is the reality in a competitive team but as far as training is concerned, they are due more credit than we give them. Being a spotter isn’t something easy and what they do deserves our respect. It’s a small gesture but always thank your spotters for being there when you needed them, appreciation is always a beautiful thing which can only develop the mutual respect two people have for each other.
Personally, I have had some minor injuries on a few occasions in the process of spotting. It’s not just me, most of the guys would have hurt themselves at some point or another. However I speak for all of us when I say that the pain that comes from the wound or the impact is nothing compared to relief we get when we know the flyer is safe. At that point of time, nothing else matters. Blood can be wiped off but the guilt that we let our team down, will remain for a long time. We’ll continue smiling through the pain so long as our efforts don’t go in vain.
Spotters. There’s a reason why they’re in the same frame as the performers themselves; they deserve to be in that picture because each of them played a small but without a doubt, significant role that helped cheerleaders become what they are today.
Thanks guys, we love you 🙂