Fight to Win: The Secret Anatomy of a Winning Cheer Routine
Creating a cheer routine at the state level can be hard work, but it can also be a rewarding and valuable experience for your team. With a little guidance, it’s possible to teach your squad the ways to conquer the floor. Read on to find the winning secret for making state cheer routines that take first place.
Know The Rules. Though it may seem like common-sense, many coaches forget that different competitions have varying sets of rules and regulations. Before you even sign-up to compete, you need to know everything you can about the state requirements. Some states require that your cheer routine wins on the district and regional level before you’re invited to compete for the state title. You need to know the logistics of the competition, like mat size, time restraints, and if you need to provide a banner or a flag for your competition. The biggest mistake coaches make is not asking to see the score card. Legit competitions should have no problem giving you a copy, like this one from Universal Cheerleaders Association.
Different competitions score differently, so you need to know if your stunts count for the biggest part of your routine, or if another element, like cheer or jumps, will give you the highest score. Also, become familiar with the deductions you’ll receive for dropping a pyramid or forgetting to add a jump to a routine. Visit your state high school leagues page for more information. When representing your school, remember to be on your best behavior, judges will take off for lack of sportsmanship.
Do Your Research. Just like football players spend their weeks combing through tapes of the competition, you should prepare to watch cheer routines from across your state, especially the winning team from the previous year. Also, use the time when you are at away games to watch any new tricks or techniques that rival schools might be pulling off so that you can make sure your skill level matches at competition time. Just be careful to never, ever copy a school’s routine. We all remember the spirit finger incident in the movie Bring It On and no one ever wants a repeat of that!
Include Every Element. To make a powerhouse cheer routine, you’ll want to make sure you combine all of the needed elements to wow the crowd. You’ll want at least two dance sequences, a cheer routine, tumbling sequence, jumps, group pyramids and individual stunts to make the best impact. Judges love when you start strong, so try to begin with a ground up pyramid or an impressive group stunt that wows the crowd.
Hide Your Flaws. In a perfect world, your entire team can participate in the tumbling pass. In reality, you may have some members that just can’t perform tumbling sequences consistently. Instead of having them fake a back handspring, use them to prepare cheer signs or participate in a basket toss in the back. Don’t just let them stand there or fake it, the judges will notice. On an opposite note, make sure that your hair (judges prefer French braids or simple ponies!), uniform and dancing doesn’t distract from the rest of the performance.
Think Outside The Music Box. Try to think of creative music that gets the crowd involved but doesn’t sound like every other music compilation the judges will hear that day. And don’t underestimate sound effects, they really do add to your routine. Use a bell chiming, a school mascot sound or song, and explosion noises when your stunts hit to really “up the ante” in your routines.
Focus On The Basics. Don’t get caught up on making a hard routine that isn’t hit consistently. It’s more important to get your basics flawless. A lot of coaches forget the importance of the cheer portion of the routine. There should be no music during the cheer portion and your focus should be on crowd involvement. Use easy but motivating chants that represent your school and let the crowd get involved without too much complication. Also, make sure to focus on clean jumps and clean stunts. Complicated stunts will only hurt you if your bases are wobbly or you can’t execute perfectly. Judges look for synchronization the most in any routine. Your transitions and cradle catches should occur at exactly the same time.