Cheerleading Competition: 5 Proven Tactics for Maximizing Your Scoresheet

 In Coaching Cheer


NCAA Cheerleading competition via PR Newswire












Has your scoresheet thrown you for a loop? Are you not scoring as well as you’d hope? Cheer competitions are one of the most anticipated events of the year, so, it can be heartbreaking to receive scores lower than what you expected. But, we’re here to help you get your team back on track.

Here’s our guide to interpreting your score sheet and making every competition count leading to Sectionals.

5 Proven Tactics to Place Your Team on Top:

1. Polish and Improve

There are some comments from the judges that you’re probably already expecting, while others can make you feel like you need to ditch your routine altogether. Fight the urge to change your routine! Unless you’ve been informed that you have an illegal skill in play, your routine should remain the same.

Use the recommendations from the judges to polish your skills and master what you are throwing. Comments regarding stunting and tumbling skills are based on execution of set skills. In most cases, officials aren’t asking you to change something, but in fact are asking you to clean it up. Three things come to mind when we see low scores on a tumbling or stunting skill from our clients: technique, execution, and timing.

When you taught your athletes that skill, all the grips and drills are “textbook”. Meaning, they do that specific skill by the book. If you compare their technique with that of a higher level team, would they both look very similar from base to flyer?

When they perform that skill, how easy does it look? Is the skill executed in a way that makes the judges flinch or give you some feedback on how to improve it, they are not executing it as well as you think.

Synchronization is big in all cheer segments. When all skills are timed correctly, you are taking away all timing distractions and therefore makes the skill look more polished. Timing is so important with every part of the routine when more than two things happen at once.

2. Look for General Themes

When you’re reviewing your scoresheet, it’s important to try to recognize general themes in the judge’s comments and recommendations.  This allows you to identify your main areas of improvement. For example, if you need to improve your jump execution you’ll often see phrases like, “keep legs more level” “keep chest up and land with feet together”.

3. Keeping Energy High

When compared to stunting, team energy and enthusiasm can seem less important. But your squad’s energy is being scored throughout the entire routine. If your scores weren’t perfect it could be because you need to kick up the energy during the second half of the routine.  Try to encourage your team to feed off of the crowd and adrenaline, until the very last second. Involving the crowd and creating excitement is one of the best ways to get high scores.

The amount of enthusiasm you show while performing your routine can make a world of difference and how exciting it appears to the crowd and judges. Focus on the three words that will take your routine to the next level:

Confidence – How confident you are when showing your skills. Do you make it look easy or difficult?

Charisma – How excited are you? Can you get the crowd into it? Are you excited for each part of the routine… This is crucial and you see it in most high-performing teams. They make you want you to get on the mat and do their dance

Energy – Are you keeping your spirits from start to finish, especially if there’s a fall or a missed skill? A team that falls and goes on with their performance as if nothing happened is the team that wins the crowd and makes you forget their mistake. The team that falls and looks distraught immediately after is remembered for their mistakes. We all make mistakes especially during a performance, but wouldn’t you rather be remembered for your triumphs and not your mistakes?

4. Improving Motion

Judges want to see your squad glide through each movement. The more effortless each motion looks within a routine, the higher your score. Low scores usually mean the tumbling in your routine may be too difficult for your team, so their execution becomes sloppy. Your tumbling stunts need to be clean and sharp. To improve, revisit the basics and the fundamentals of tumbling and stunt dismounts. It will pay off at your next competition.

Motions are the fundamental skills for a cheerleader. It’s something that should not be overlooked as most teams fall prey to low motions scores since they only focus and practice their stunting and tumbling skills. Based on your specific segment of cheer, motions are their own category on the scoresheet, why would you overlook that when that is the easiest category to attain a perfect score? Mastering this category can really make a performance look polished and make a world of difference for scoring. Motions are considered in stunts, pyramid, transitions, jumps and baskets… Why should a category that affects all other categories not get more attention in practice?

5. Team Unity

If the judges make a lot of statements related to timing or synchronizing your skills, it can mean your team isn’t working as a unity. Remember, every movement needs to look seamless. If even one cheerleader is out of place or their timing is off, it can drastically affect the overall appearance of the routine. If you can make your team look like one, flowing movement, your scores will increase drastically.

Competitions can be an emotional and nerve-racking experience for most. But they are also the most rewarding minutes of the season. If you rely on your scoresheet as a guide for improvements, you’ll be leading the competition in no time! The team that sticks together, wins together!

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