Elevators are the benchmark of cheerleading stunts. They separate the wheat from the chaff, the women from the girls, the men from the boys...you get the picture.
Even for those squads that can perform elevators, doing them with perfect technique will be the difference between hitting your transition stunts with ease, or eating blue carpet.
The following will break down the technique for elevators into simple steps. Nail each one of these steps, and it’s ‘Second Floor, ...Going Up!’
To begin, the bases should stand as if they where holding the elevator at shoulder level. Their feet should be shoulder’s width apart, and they should be close enough to each other so that the top person’s feet are also shoulder’s width apart.
From this ‘ending’ position, the bases should squat down without moving their feet and their backs should remain upright. This is an uncomfortable position at first, but it will come to feel more natural.
The hands should be together and close to the body. Putting the elbows beside the body with make this easier. This puts the base in a stronger position to use their biceps.
This is a common error; the bases are too far apart to begin the elevator. They will likely stand up with the climber and pull her feet too far apart.
If they do stand to a correct position for the climber, they will have to move their feet to do so. In addition to potential injuries occurring from poor technique, this is wasted motion and should be avoided!
Next, have the climber push down on the hands of the bases. The bases should practice dipping together without letting their hands drop. If the arms straighten, the bases will have to use extra energy to get the climber back to this position - again, wasted motion. In addition, straightening the arms pulls the climbers feet apart, which in turn pushes the bases apart.
Next, the top person should load into the bases’ hands, keeping her weight in her arms. She should be able to hold this position without the bases’ support.
Her feet should be together, and she should not let her hips go below her knees.
The climber stays tight while the bases dip together. As they stand, she will push through her arms and lift with her shoulders, keeping her feet close together.
The momentum created by the climber lifting through the shoulders and the bases lifting with their shoulders should allow the bases to easily lift the climber above the head. This allows the bases to rotate their hands so they are supporting the entire foot from toe to heel.
This position should be achieved before attempting an elevator extension directly from the load-in.
For an elevator to shoulders, the bases will control the climber from the ‘lift’ position down to the shoulders. The feet should not have to move, as this was the position that the bases used to begin the elevator.
Some people use the term ‘settle’ to describe how the bases bring the flyer to their shoulders. It should be a controlled, cushioned landing.
Take it up!
For the elevator extension, the bases continue the momentum created by the lift and extend the arms to a locked position. They should keep their eyes on the climber through the entire lift.
Again, the feet should not need to move from the beginning position. This creates a very clean elevator with very little, if any, wasted motion.
The spotter can help load the climber into the elevator, but she should not “lift” the climber on the way up. This causes the climber to come down too hard on the bases’ hands. The climber should be able to load in by herself!
At the top of the extension, the spotter can assist the bases by holding the arms of the bases or the ankles of the flyer. This helps to stabilize the stunt, minimizing the chance of a fall.
Notice that the spotter is still in a position to catch the top person if she fell backward, by pushing the feet forward and catching under the arms.
The spotter should never hold under the feet of the climber (between the hands of the bases). This clearly puts her out of spotting position. If the top person fell, the spotter would not be able to free her hands in order to catch the climber.
Good luck with the Elevator!