Before practicing cradles from extension preps, it is a good idea to practice the ending cradle position. A good drill for cradles is to fall back from a table or the bleachers into the cradle bases. This lets you practice the cradle technique without worrying about the dip part of the cradle. Once you have the cradle from a stationary object, you can move on to the cradle from an extension prep.
Required Lead-up Stunt: Extension Prep.
Start in an extension prep. The bases should dip together. The most common way that this is done is with the spotter counting “One, two, down, up.” The bases dip together on the “down” count and push through the legs and arms on the “up” count.
As the bases and spotter push the top into the air, they need to make sure they follow through until the arms are fully extended. This gives the top more height, which allows the bases and spotter to catch safely. If the tops feet are only swept forward, there is less time to get the arms into position to make a safe catch. The top can either lift the arms into a touchdown motion for more height, or they can pull their arms to their side, as shown here.
As the top starts to descend, she will lift her feet forward and let her body fall into a semi-piked position shown here.
The arms should be in a “T” position, ready to catch the bases around their shoulders. Notice that the bases and the back spotter (also knows as the “scoop”) are catching the top in the highest possible point. This will help to slow the top down safely. If the bases heads tend to get too close on the catch, it is generally caused by the bases catching too low, or standing too far apart.
The bases should “resist” the tops decent in a controlled manner, using the legs to absorb the landing. The bases keep their backs upright during the last phase of the cradle. The scoop has her forearms under the tops shoulders, protecting her head and neck in the event of a mishap. The top catches the bases around the shoulders, not the backs. This is another safety measure to help protect the top.
Using these techniques, a cradle is one of the safest dismounts in cheerleading. Be sure to practice in a safe environment, under the supervision of an adult.
CAUTION!: All cheerleading gymnastics, including partner stunts such as this one, should only be performed under the supervision of a knowledgeable adult.