Coaches Guide for Building a Routine

This is just a guideline to help you prepare for the competition. Rules, scoring and judging information and a routine format are included in this guide

Competition Routine Sample Format



  1. Total routine time cannot exceed 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

  2. Routine must consist of at least one cheer.

  3. A musical segment of at least 45 seconds and no more than 1minute and 30 seconds.

  4. Timing begins with the first organized movement and/or first word of cheer or beat of dance.

  5. Organized entrances that involve cheers or run ons with jumps, tumbling or stunts are not permitted. Cheerleaders should enter the performance area in a timely fashion.

  6. Timing will end with holding of the final movement, pyramid or stunt. .

  7. Routines should be choreographed so that the routine flows from one segment to the next.

  8. Teams must follow all rules.

  9. All routines should be appropriate for family viewing. Any vulgar or suggestive movements, words, or music will result in a score deduction. No tear-away uniforms or removal of clothing is allowed.


SAMPLE ROUTINE FORMAT – 2:30 minute routine

Opening cheer with partner stunting transitioning into a crowd participation cheer

1:30 of music – tumbling, jumps, pyramid, partner stunts


Opening with :45 of music – motions with so standing/running tumbling

Cheer with pyramid transitioning into a crowd participation cheer

Ending with :45 of music – jumps, pyramid, partner stunts


Opening with 1:30 of music – tumbling, jumps, partner stunting

Crowd participation cheer with pyramid transitioning into a cheer with motions


Routine Guidelines


FHSAA follows NFHS rules; please refer to your rule book for specific skill restrictions!


REMINDER – Basket tosses ARE NOT ALLOWED in Middle School.


FORMATIONS/TRANSITIONS will be evaluated on the following criteria: difficulty, technique, sharpness, creativity, flow, visual effect, ease of movement, pace, spacing and seamless patterns.


TUMBLING is evaluated by number of tumblers, difficulty of skills, synchronization, and execution. Basic tumbling skills include: Forward rolls, Cartwheels, Back walk overs and round offs. Advanced tumbling skills include: Back handsprings, standing tucks/fulls, and synchronized running/standing tumbling, Layouts, Fulls.


STUNTS/ PYRAMIDS will be evaluated on skill creativity, using new, inventive, unique load-ins, dismounts and transitions. Technique, number of bases, body positions and execution all affect your score.


BASIC STUNTS are any stunts that are shoulder level and below and having no transitions to other stunts/body positions. Examples: Thigh stands, Elevators, Shoulder straddles.


INTERMEDIATE STUNTS are any stunts that include but are not limited to: extended body positions with the legs in line with the trunk of the body. Example: Liberty, ¼ and ½ up, inversions off the ground to upright position.


ELITE STUNTS are stunts that include but are not limited to creative transitions, dismounts, multiple body positions, and inversions. Examples: Switch Ups, Release Transitions, Full twisting skills to immediate extended body positions, Prep level inversions or inversions that transition to upright extended positions, Single base stunts.


DANCE should include levels, ground work, ripples, formation changes, and creativity. Motions should be sharp, in sync with music and have proper placement. Pace of music, motions and body positions will also affect the score. For example: Broken wrists, wide high Vs, and improper motion placement are all considered bad execution.


SINGLE BASE STUNTS are any stunts that are performed with one male and one female (Some stunts require a spotter). Basic stunts include: chairs, shoulder stands/sits, walk in hands, J Ups and limited transitions. Advanced or Elite stunts include: creative transitions, dismounts, multiple body positions, and inversions. Examples: Toss to hands/extension/single legged stunts, Full twisting skills, Inversions and new creative transitions and stunts.


OVERALL PERFORMANCE will be evaluated on the following criteria: showmanship, energy levels, excitement, crowd appeal, uniformity, genuine enthusiasm and athletic sportsmanship. Routines should incorporate innovative choreography which may include music, routine, and skill themes throughout the overall routine.

*Please note these are only GUIDELINES. Teams are encouraged to be creative and innovative when choreographing skills and routines. Cheerleading is an evolving sport in which new skills can be introduced at any time.




Deductions are per violation. Each team will receive a deductions sheet with violations listed.


Bobbles - 0.5



 Stunts and Pyramids that almost drop or fall but are saved

 Blatant incomplete twisting cradles (landing on stomach)

 Knee or hand touching ground during cradle or dismount

 Severe balance checks




Falls - 1.0



 Falls from individual stunts/pyramids/tosses to a cradle

 Falls from individual stunts to a pop down dismount


Major Falls - 1.5



 Falls from individual stunt to the ground (top person lands on ground or multiple bases land on the ground)


Collapse - 2.0



 When multiple deductions should be assessed during an individual stunt sequence or during a pyramid sequence and the sum of those deductions is greater than 2.0, the occurrences may instead be combined and converted into a single deduction of 2.0 and noted as a Collapse.



Mistakes - 0.25



 Hands down on tumbling

 Knees touching the ground in back handspring

 Seat touching ground in standing back tucks

 Collisions and falls during transitions or tumbling


How to create a cheerleading competition routine

Step 1

Know the rules. Understand the current American Association of Cheer Coaches and Administrators School Cheerleading (AACCA) Rules. Familiarize yourself with the score sheet for each competition you plan to attend. Each competition has its own specifications. Incorporate all required elements when creating your routine.

Step 2

Evaluate your team, noting your strengths and weaknesses. Capitalize on your strengths and camouflage your weaknesses. For example, if your team is made up of strong dancers, showcase their skills with a difficult and impressive dance section.

Step 3

Choose your music wisely. Avoid over-popular or trendy choices. You do not want to have the same music as every other squad there. Use an engaging beat without too many sound effects. Too much chaos in your music can be distracting.

Step 4

Make a list of specific elements you want to include in your routine. List the exact stunts, jumps and tumbling you want to include. Base your list upon skills your squad has mastered, including only a few elements they are still working to achieve.

Step 5

Map out all of the eight counts in the music section of your routine on lined paper. In pen, list the counts in the left margin of the paper. Note any special effects on the counts they cover. Also write down the words from the cheer that will be in your routine.

Step 6

Plug elements into your routine map where they belong. It helps to listen to your music as you decide where to place each item. Write the skills you will use in pencil, as this plan will likely change.

Step 7

Plan your transitions into the routine map. The shorter the transition time, the better. Do not use more than eight counts to travel to a new formation.

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