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Industry News: 2022 Triple Crown Winners

 

Now that the Universal Cheer Association’s international competition is completed the triple crown winners for this year, we at cheerleadingmix.com would like to congratulate the 2022 Triple Crown Winners. These breathtaking teams won at the three largest national competitions of the year: CHEERSPORT, NCA, and UCA. With thousands of teams from across the country and worldwide competing, these teams are truly the best of the best. They have some of the most difficult stunting and tumbling, combined with simply stunning dances, but these teams also have the consistency to hit week after week in the world’s largest and most competitive contest. Many of these teams will be competing at Worlds and the Cheerleading Summit in the next few weeks, and they are the teams to watch after their dominant season thus far. Ten teams won the Triple Crown this year, and they are all teams to watch.  Seven of the Triple crown winners’ music is produced by top producers of New Level music, creating music on the Cheerleadingmix.com site.

 

Let’s learn more about the Triple Crown winners for 2022

 

San Antonio Spirit – Team Daisy (Youth level 1)

Team Daisy was truly a daisy to watch this year. Their tightly intertwined use of front and back walkovers made the level 1 tumbling fun to watch, and their combination of T-holds was artistic and inspired. The use of a traditional “sailor T” early in the stunt sequence was paired with a traditional T-motion lift later, creating an ingenious visual change.

 

Cheer Extreme – Frost (U17 level 2))

Look at the careful choreography and tight movement of this level 2 team! Cheer Extreme Frost brought it this year with their inimitable execution. Their stunt and pyramid rotations throughout the routine were fresh and new, showing that level 2 stunts can be intricate and creative.

 

NFINITIE All-Stars – Code Black (Senior level 3)

NFINITIE brought more sparkle than their uniforms to their 2022 performance at UCA Nationals this year. Creative use of front tumbling and dynamic formation changes really helped bring excitement to their Senior Level 3 team. Code Black’s straddle mounts and switches were clean and mistake-free.

 

Cheer Extreme – Youth Elite (Youth level 5)

Cheer Extreme’s Youth Elite squad made inventive use of intensely difficult stunting to help them lock in wins at all three of the Varsity Brand Major championships. They made their stunt sequence with a low-tock and a 360-degree twist-up to bow and arrow look easy at the 2022 UCA Nationals. Meanwhile, their visionary execution of flatbacks and tick-tocks in their pyramid showed just how much difficulty a youth team can accomplish.

 

Extreme All-Stars – X5 (Senior Coed level 5)

Extreme All-Stars X5 cleverly used repeated stunt themes throughout their routine, helping guide them to this year’s Triple Crown. X5 made creative use of inversions to transition into their stunt section, followed by an impressive double switch sequence. Extreme’s level 5 team used inversions again later in the routine with both a bridge to the ground and a needle to bring the inverted theme together.

 

Cheer Extreme – SJX (Junior Coed 6)

Cheer Extreme has made a name for itself by incorporating effortlessly difficult stunts with profound musicality. This year is no exception. While their tumbling is flawless, the real show begins when they begin their swing-through stunt sequence.

 

Twist & Shout – Diamonds (Extra Small Coed 6)

Twist & Shout Diamonds has been in complete control of their destiny throughout the season; with amazing stunting and tight tumbling, their victories at all three majors have been impressive. Equally impressive is their cheer mix, with a variety of vocal stylings and excellent use of dynamics. Their epic cheer mix is almost as remarkable as their skills. Here is their cheer music video by Cheer Music Pro:

 

Brandon All-Stars – Senior Black (Small Coed 6)

This year, Brandon All-Stars starts with stunning choreography, putting a stunt group in the center of their opening tumbling. Their incorporation of stunt with tumbling was really innovative, and their hand-to-hand snap-down to arabesque was executed flawlessly at UCA this year.

 

Top Gun All Stars – TGLC (Large Coed 6)

TGLC has dominated this year, with wins by significant margins in every major competition they have entered. The routine is amazing, but so is their red-hot cheer track! Credited with some of the most innovative stunting and music in the industry, here is their 2021-2022 music video for the unique cheer mix:

 

Zodiac All Stars Shadow – (U19 level 1)

With insane flexibility and more switches than an old-school lowrider with hydraulics, Zodiac Shadow showed that you do not have to go through two highs to execute elite stunts. Watch their show-stopping performance at NCA:

 

Congratulations to these outstanding teams and their world-champion success!

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Cheerleading is a sport that is often plagued with injuries. The constant jumping, tumbling, and stunting can put a lot of stress on your body, so it is important to do everything you can to condition and protect yourself from injury. One of the most important things you and your team can do is a consistent stretching regimen both before and after practice. Being able to purposefully target the muscles you are using in practice will not only make it easier to execute your skills, it will also help keep you and your teammates safe from serious injury.

 

Types of Stretching

While there are many modalities, most stretching falls into two basic types. These are static and dynamic stretching. Static stretches hold positions for a minute or longer to help increase core flexibility, but can be detrimental to athletic performance. Dynamic stretching is active stretching that incorporates movement into the stretching process. It is a good choice for warming up before athletic activity, but it only incrementally increases core flexibility. An ideal stretching routine for your team should maximize the benefits of each of these types of stretching but beginning practice with dynamic stretching and ending with static stretching. Doing this will help your team perform at their best during practice and competitions, while also helping to increase overall mobility.

 

Before Practice

Practice should begin with some sort of light aerobic activity, like a slow jog, star jumps, backwards jogging, or other low impact exercises which help to get the body warm and get your joints moving. This aerobic activity should not be part of conditioning, but should merely help you and your squad get to a point of gentle perspiration and looseness. Ten minutes of light cardiovascular activity is ideal for preparing your muscles for practice.

Once those muscles have warmed up, it is time to transition to dynamic stretching. These stretches should incorporate movements which mirror the activities you will be doing in practice. Aim to extend your range of motion slightly beyond the point of comfort, but without any pain. Most teams focus largely on the lower body, with high kicks, twisting lunges, and knee to chest exercises to help stretch out the hamstrings and quadriceps. However, lower back exercises like good morning, and upper body exercises like T push-ups should also be part of your stretching regimen.

 

After Practice

 Most coaches and athletes know that stretching before practice is important. However, a lot of teams do not actively engage in stretching at the end of practice. While dynamic stretching is very important to prepare for practice, static stretching is ideal during the cooldown part of practice. With static stretching the goal is to move your muscles as far as you can without pain, holding it for a minute or longer. Dynamic stretching helps to warm your muscles for practice, but static stretching is focused on increasing your core flexibility.

Static stretching is important for every member of your team, but it is especially important for fliers. Make sure to engage all the major muscle groups in your static stretching routine. Upper back stretches, shoulder stretches, and calf stretches are as important as hamstring and adductor stretches. Creating a 10-minute cooldown static routine is not only a great way to increase flexibility, and thus avoid injury, but also a time where you can focus on mindfulness and meditation.

 

Final Thoughts

By incorporating dynamic and static stretching as part of your practice routine you will find that fewer of your teammates suffer injuries during the season. Including those static stretching exercises at the end will have a huge impact on your team’s jumps and flexibility positions. Trying incorporating high-energy cheerleading music during the dynamic stretching, and calm, meditative tracks during the static stretching to create a holistic experience. Being able to improve your skills in a safe, supportive environment is central to having a successful season. Consistently using pre and post-practice stretching routines can be an opportunity to bond with your team while protecting yourself.

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Time and time again you and your team have been told to drink water. It is easy to stay hydrated when you are at a practice in August and the air conditioning isn’t working, or on the sideline in September in a game just went into overtime. However, the dangers of dehydration are just as big a deal in February as they are in July! When it is cold outside, we do not often remember that we must stay hydrated, but it is important to keep your body adequately fueled with water regardless of the time of year or weather.

 

What is Dehydration?

Most of us assume that it means getting thirsty, especially when we are sweating a lot. However, dehydration is significantly more concerning than just a dry mouth. Water makes up most of our bodies, and regularly replenishing our supply is paramount to keeping healthy. Not having enough water can lead to a variety of medical issues like kidney stones and urinary tract infections. However, dehydration can be even more severe. Once your body has insufficient water you may notice your urine turns darker, and you stop sweating. You may feel light-headed or get a headache for no reason. Once these symptoms begin you are in danger. Dehydration can lead to kidney failure, brain swelling, even coma and death.

 

Hydration in the Winter

Because we normally wear more layers of clothes in the winter, we often do not notice how much water we are losing in our day-to-day activities. That said, every time you take a breath or go to the bathroom you are losing fluids out of your body. Those fluids need to be replaced, and just drinking at meal times is generally not enough water to replace what you have lost in your daily activities. This becomes an even bigger issue in the winter. Winter air is frequently drier than it is during the summer, pulling even more water out of your body with each breath. When it is hot outside and you are sweating your body reminds you that you need water, but when you are bundled up and battling the wind those same physical reminders are no longer as prominent.

 

Improving Hydration

Everyone has different hydration needs. Height, weight, activity level, and environment all play a big part in deciding how much water you or someone on your team needs daily. Most medical experts suggest that you drink about a gallon of water a day, but that can be hard! There are a few tricks you can use to help you and your squad get to that “1-gallon goal.” First, try to reduce the amount of high-sugar beverages in your diet. The sugar in these drinks can impair your body’s ability to absorb water, and give you a false sense of hydration. Second, consider carrying a small water bottle around with you during the day, and refilling it often: constant access to water will help you get to your goal (you can add some fresh fruit if you need a little flavor!). Next, consider increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. These have a higher water content, so it allows you to “eat” some water during your meals. Finally, make sure that your squad takes frequent short water breaks during workouts, practices, and competitions. Just a two-minute break every 20 minutes or so should be enough to keep you and your team hydrated as long as everyone drinks some water at each break.

 

Too Much Water?

Over the course of the day most people should be aiming to drink about a gallon of water. However, you and your team need to be careful about how much water you drink at one time. In general, you do not want to drink more than a liter of water in an hour. More than that can lead to water toxicity, where the body takes in more water than it can process. However, drinking a liter of water in one hour is a lot of water, and most people cannot comfortably drink more than that without feeling discomfort. Taking frequent water breaks during practice and over the course of the day can help. When you are on a water break, think about drinking the water instead of chugging it.

Winter is a hard time to remember to stay hydrated, but doing so is important. If your squad is not staying adequately hydrated during the winter months you may see increased injuries, and issues with focus and headaches as a result. Work with your team to develop a hydration plan that includes frequent, short breaks to drink water, and encourage everyone to drink water during those breaks, even if they are not thirsty. Be certain that you and your teammates are checking for early signs of dehydration as well. As a rule of thumb: if you are thirsty, you have already waited too long to drink. By addressing proper hydration as part of your normal routine, you should find that your teammates are healthier and happier, with fewer members suffering from dehydration headaches and cramping.

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Industry News: NCA Nationals 2022

Not rain, nor sleet, nor even hail could keep athletes from all over the United States from convening in Dallas, Texas for the 2022 National Cheerleading Association All-Star Nationals competition. The weekend-long event was a veritable who’s-who of all star programs from all over the country, competing at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center with the very best in the nation. Winners of this prestigious competition earned bids to the worlds cheerleading championship, as well as the vaulted NCA black jacket.

 

Although many traveling to Dallas had some difficulty getting through the snowy weather, things calmed down considerably on Friday, when preparations for the contest began in earnest. As athletes walked across the grassy knoll towards the convention center you could feel the excitement in the air, especially after the trials and tribulations of last year’s contest and strict COVID protocols.

 

Billed as the largest cheerleading competition in the world (a title it took from CHEERSPORT nationals a few years ago) NCA All Star Nationals has become the definitive stage upon which the best teams in the nation compete, often the only time they will share the same floor until the cheerleading world championships. NCA not only boasts the best teams in the country preparing for Summit and World’s but also includes dance teams, high school, recreational, and even a Cheerabilities division for the differently-abled. For most all star programs the NCA competition is the highlight of the year, allowing them to see broad fields of competitors within their divisions.

 

There were many amazing teams performing at NCA, and it would be difficult to highlight them all, but some of the most competitive divisions with some of the highest scoring teams were in the level 6 division. Here are the highest overall scoring level 6 teams from NCA:

 

L6 Large Junior COED           Cheer Extreme          Raleigh SJX                96.6167

L6 Medium Senior                  Woodlands Elite       OR      Generals         97

L6 Large Senior                      Stingray AllStars      Orange                        97.1667

L6 Medium Senior Coed         Woodlands Elite       OR      Black Ops       97.5333

L6 Large Senior Coed            Top Gun All Stars     TGLC                          98

L6 Senior Coed Open Large  Top Gun All Stars     Revelation                   98.15

L6 Intrntnl Global Coed          The CA All Stars       Camarillo Smoed        98.4333

L6 Intrntnl Open Coed Large  Top Gun All Stars     Double O                     99.2

L6 Intrntnl Open Coed NT      Twist & Shout Tulsa Adam & Eve                99.3137

 

The competition was not always easy for these teams, both Stingrays Orange and TLGC overcame difficult first days to win their respective divisions. The grit and determination both teams showed on day two was inspirational. While come-from-behind wins of both teams were quite impressive, few had the full cheer experience the way that Woodlands Elite Black Ops exhibited them with their medium coed level 6 team. The team put on an absolute exhibition with their opening tumbling sequences, showing why they are one of the best teams at NCA this year.

As strong as Black Ops initial tumbling was, their stunting was even more impressive. The team began their stunt sequence with front handspring half-ups, super clean hand to hand snapdowns, and controlled stunt movement. As if that were not enough, they staged an impressive and surprisingly controlled double-twisting pull-through in the middle part of the routine. Everyone expects a lot of twisting from The Woodlands Elite All Stars, and this team was no exception, keeping the energy moving throughout the routine and using intermittent tumbling to keep the excitement level high. What really set Black Ops apart though was their innovative use of musicality with their braced flipping sequences during the pyramid combined with twisting bajas before their high energy dance. The choreography of the extended movement in the pyramid with the beat of the music helped set Woodlands Elite apart from the rest in a very competitive division. You can hear the intensity of the music in the Black Ops music video produced by CheerMusicPro.

Congratulations to all the teams that made it to NCA this year: the last few years have been challenging for programs across the nation and the world, but your hard work and diligence were on full display in Dallas!

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Industry News: CHEERSPORT 2022

The 2022 CHEERSPORT National All-Star Cheerleading Championships wrapped up on Sunday, February 20th in Atlanta, Georgia. CHEERSPORT is one of the largest cheerleading competitions in the country, allowing recreation and all-star cheer and dance teams from California to New England to compete on a teal, carpeted stage. While the 2021 competition saw significantly fewer participants, owing largely to the pandemic, over 55,000 competitors were registered to exhibit their skills for the 2022 championship.

The competition was hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta, with the massive space packed with parents, families, coaches, and competitors all vying for bids to the World Cheerleading Championship and an opportunity to earn the vaunted CHEERSPORT champion jacket. While CHEERSPORT began as an independent competition, it was eventually purchased by Varsity Spirit Group, and now falls under the Varsity Brand. Competitors from all over the country were excited to get back to showing off their skills in front of a packed house, and the competitions ran from very early in the morning on Saturday until the final awards ceremony, which ended near midnight Sunday evening.

 

And The Winner Is…

While there were fantastic performances from every division, there were a few programs that really shined under the bright lights and intense scrutiny of this massive competition. The level 6 teams in all divisions exhibited some of the cleanest, most difficult skills of the year, and put up some of the highest scores of the two-day competition. Here were the highest scoring teams at

CHEERSPORT:

Small International Open Coed 6       Louisiana Cheer Force Gold              97.1292

International Open 6                           Cheer Extreme Lady Lux                   97.67

Large Junior Coed 6                           Cheer Extreme Raleigh SJX              97.7375

Medium Senior Coed 6                       Spirit of Texas Royalty                       98.0167

Large Senior 6                                    The Stingray Allstars Orange             98.1333

Large Senior Coed 6                          Top Gun Allstars TGLC                      98.2333

 

Did You Hear About Top Gun?

While all of the teams were amazing, few commanded the room with the same energy and enthusiasm as Top Gun All Stars TGLC. The massive chamber at the Georgia World Congress Center was packed to the rafters as cheerleaders from all over the country came to watch a team which has become the vanguard for innovation in the cheerleading industry. They did not disappoint. Before the first note the room was electric. TGLC looked lean and mean and ready to win with unique sleeveless uniforms. Their tumbling was on point, and their opening sequence of full-up and ball-ups hit perfectly. However, the real show stopper was the hand-to-hand snap downs in their elite sequence, and, of course, the pyramid.

 

With some of the most creative cheerleading music highlighting every innovative transition and skill, the routine helped further cement TGLC’s position as cheerleading’s tastemaker. Victor Rosario’s reputation as a trendsetter and one of the most influential minds in competition cheerleading was on full display with each tightly integrated twist and skill extending briefly through the three high ranges. You can see Top Gun’s CHEERSPORT performance here. If you want to know more about Top Gun’s music, and how they effortlessly incorporated musicality and theme into their skills you can see the music video release here.

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There are a lot of cheerleading music choices out there, but not every option fits your unique needs. Perhaps you have a big budget, and can pay to have one of the best cheer mix producers in the country create a custom mix for you and your squad, carefully tailored to the specifics of your routine. However, most of us do not have the sort of budgets needed to hire someone to create a special track just for us. That does not mean you should give up on custom music, however. There are several other options besides the high-end cheer mixes you hear at the World Cheerleading Championships. You can create custom music at a much lower cost using the digital tools on the Cheerleadingmix.com web platform.

Different Kinds of Custom Music

When individualized custom music is made, it is not uncommon for the routine to already be completed, then the coaches take a video recording of the squad doing the routine, and submit the video, along with completed 8 count sheets, to the music producer. This guarantees that the music is a perfect match for the routine. That kind of personalized service and fastidious care comes at a high price however. You can get a very similar product at one quarter of the price by using the cheerleadingmix.com cheer mix interface.

It Starts with Choreo

There are two ways to match a cheer routine with music. The less common method is to acquire the music first, then choreograph the routine to the pre-existing music. This method is not used very often because it has very little flexibility: the music is already fixed so any changes must be made on the choreography side. The more common way most people align their music and their routine is to complete all the choreography first, practicing to 8-counts, then have custom music made for that choreography. This is the more popular option because it allows you and your squad greater flexibility with the pace and order of the routine elements.

Creating 8-count Sheets

Once you have completed your choreography, you will still need to make 8-count sheets. These sheets help to document the stunts, tumbling, and pyramid movements throughout the routine. The 8-count sheet is critical to pairing your routine with any cheerleading mix, whether you use the most expensive producers in the country or a budget-friendly online option. Free downloadable 8-count sheets are available at Cheerleadingmix.com to help you get started!

Practicing to 8-counts

When you are making your 8-count sheets, make sure that every detail is perfect. A mistake on an 8-count sheet means that the music will not perfectly align with the routine. Don’t be afraid to have your team run the routine multiple times to be certain there are no mistakes. Consider using an 8-count track to double-check your final draft of the sheets: there is a fantastic 8-count track available at Cheerleadingmix.com for free.

Your Cheerleadingmix.com Account

Now that you have your 8-count sheets, it is time to create an account on Cheerleadingmix.com. Once you have filled out the basic information, select the option to create your own custom cheer music using the online interface. First find a track that matches the energy and personality of your squad. Cheerleadingmix.com offers over 200 customizable tracks and are constantly updating with new cheer mixes, so there is certain to be one which captures your unique style. Next select the length of the track you need. Tracks have three different lengths: 1:30, 2 minutes, and 2:30. Check to make sure the mix’s energy matches the choreography of your routine.

Adding Voice Overs

In addition to a massive, industry-leading library of high-energy cheerleading tracks, Cheerleadingmix.com offers custom voice-overs to make the track uniquely your own. Think about including more than just your team name, mascot, or colors. Consider including details such as personal statements, or team goals. Adding those personal elements will give the track that custom music feel.

Just like that, you have a personalized cheerleading mix at one-tenth the cost of hiring a private music producer to create a custom track! Just remember to double check that the music you have selected matches the 8-count sheet, and then get ready to impress your squad with an epic cheerleading mix that will make this season truly special.

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When someone outside the world of cheerleading thinks about cheerleading, they often are thinking about something like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. However, anyone inside the world of cheer knows that professional teams such as this are more like a dance team than a true cheerleading squad.

So what is cheerleading, then?

Cheerleading is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. However, all forms of cheerleading have one thing in common – they are there to support an athletic team of some sort, even if that team is their own squad. Cheerleading falls into three major categories: recreational cheer; school cheer, and all-star cheer. Each of them has their own rules and expectations, and each has a unique set of standards.

Recreation

Recreational, or “rec,” cheer is the cheerleading that is done by athletes who are not associated with a specific school or school system, and is typically composed mostly of younger participants. If you see cheerleaders at a Pop Warner or Pee-Wee football game, then those are recreational cheerleaders. Recreational cheer is generally non-competitive. This is not to say that they don’t have competitions, normally the recreational governing group for their area hosts some sort of invitational. However, their competitions do not have national standards or standings. Normally rec cheer is there to help would-be cheerleaders begin to understand the fundamentals of sideline cheer, much in the same way that younger children participate in YMCA soccer, or some other introductory sport. Most rec cheerleaders are either in elementary or middle school, at least in the United States.

School

Once athletes enter middle school they often become part of the school cheerleading squads. These teams are there primarily to provide spirit and athletic support to other sports at the school. Sometimes several middle schools that feed into one high school will create an extramural team made up of athletes from each of those schools. However, once students enter high school, the governing rules and structures become more defined. Most of us remember the sideline cheerleaders from our high school days, cheering at football and basketball games (although in some places they cheer for volleyball, wrestling, or even gymnastics). Yet school cheerleading is more than just sideline cheerleading. Competitive high school cheerleading has been a growing sport for the last two decades, and most states now offer some sort of statewide competitive cheerleading format. School cheer is ultimately supported by the individual schools, and most of the competitions are run by state athletic organizations. However, some large private companies such as NCA and UCA do host national high school competitions.

Allstar

Some athletes decide they want to focus on the competitive elements of cheerleading, rather than being a sideline cheerleader. For these athletes the opportunities to compete with their school is not enough. As a result, they join an all-star cheerleading squad. These squads are made up of students from different schools, cities, and sometimes even different states to focus exclusively on competing at regional, national, and world-level competitions. The only teams they cheer for are themselves, and the focus is primarily on stunting, tumbling, and dance. While all-star cheer does still incorporate a cheer into their routine, it is typically secondary to the acrobatic and gymnastics skills they are exhibiting as part of their routine. These teams are supported by private companies for both their practice and coaching facilities as well as the competitions they attend.

Cheerleading has changed a lot in the last century. The sport was originally exclusively male, a group of men supporting other men at collegiate football games. However, the sport transitioned through the 20th century to become primarily female, although there are still coed teams. During those transitions the sport veered in three distinctly different directions. For the recreational cheerleaders, the prime focus is to enjoy cheering as a sport, and understand the fundamentals of both sideline and competitive cheer. For school cheerleading, the main focus is on providing spirit and support for the other athletic teams at their school, although there is a competitive element. Finally, all-star cheer focuses exclusively on the competition element of cheer. Understanding the differences between the three is critical to understanding where the sport has come from and where it is going.

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As cheerleaders, we spend a lot of time working on our tumbling, our stunting, our dances, and, of course, our cheers. We spend countless hours painting signs, leading pep rallies, and encouraging other athletes at our school. We frequently get feedback from other students, athletes, parents, and even teachers about what they feel works and does not. However, when it comes to competition cheerleading we often operate in a vacuum. Less of the community sees our competition routines, unless we perform at a pep rally. Even fewer see us compete if we are on an all-star program. As a result, we get a lot less feedback, and often have to make a lot of decisions about our routine independently, just between the coaches and the athletes. We rarely stop to think about the judges who are scoring our routine, or what they are thinking about while we perform.

What Does the Competition Look Like From the Judges Table?

When we think about competition cheerleading, we think of all the things that cheerleaders do to get ready for the performance. Getting our make-up and hair just right, having a good warm-up, staying calm before we go on stage. More than anything, we think about the routine itself. We spend countless hours perfecting every stunt and tumbling pass. Often, once we are on the mat, the routine flies by so fast that we don’t even notice until it is over. Then we have the congratulations of our friends, family, and teammates, time spent supporting other teams, and finally the awards ceremony.

But what does a cheerleading competition day look like for the judges? The judges arrive before any of the athletes, spend some time with other judges establishing norms and expectations, then take their place at the table. Those judges see 6-10 routines an hour every hour for the duration of the competition. At big contests like NCA All-Star Nationals or Cheersport that can be over 12 hours and over 100 routines in a single day. Those judges have to show attention to detail for each routine, and judging for that long takes considerable stamina. Thinking about how the judges view your routine is an important consideration in your choreography, because it is easy for your routine to just get lost in the shuffle of all the other great teams at your competition.

Does This Routine Tell a Story?

A good cheerleading routine tells a story. Sometimes that story is overt, with a clearly defined theme, and music, movement, and choreography that all aligns with the theme. Sometimes the story is more subtle, and exposed slowly over the course of the routine through the tumbling, stunts, and dancing. However, if your routine is just a skill’s exhibition, with no narrative interwoven between the tumbling passes, it is easy to forget. Think about making a memorable routine, one that will stand out from all the others for the judges. While we spend a lot of time on our stunts and our tumbling, our creativity should also get equal focus. Teams like Top Gun have made their name because of having routines with high levels of creativity that get the judges talking even after the routine is finished.

How Do We Get (And Keep) the Judges’ Attention?

You want your routine to be memorable, full of energetic moments which capture the imagination and excite the senses. Enthusiastic performance is critical, but it is only one of several elements which will help to keep the judge’s attention, and make it a routine that they not only remember, but one that also scores well. Some teams accomplish this through unusual, one-of-a-kind choreography, with innovative stunting that pushes the limits of what anyone has seen before. These unique routines are memorable because they break many of the traditional elements of competition cheer, and have built them back in a different way. Think about the pyramid and dance in a cheerleading routine: these elements are almost always at the end. Something as simple as changing the order and putting those elements at the beginning can get the judges’ attention.

Creating stunts no one has ever done before, or flipping the script in the order in which you perform the elements of a cheerleading routine can be difficult, and may not be an option for your squad. However, every routine can tell a story. Having a narrative element within your routine helps, but that story is told by more than just your jumps, stunting, and tumbling. The narrative is given through your music. Having music that captures the spirit and energy of your team is important, but the music should also help your squad tell your story. The perfect cheer mix can help energize you and your teammates, but it can also energize the crowd and the judges. Consider professionals like cheerleadingmix.com to help guide you through creating and developing a cheerleading mix that takes your team to the next level.

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The cheerleading season can be very long and difficult. If you are on a competitive All-Star program, you may have tryouts before Worlds in April and not have your season end until Worlds the following April. If you are cheering on the sideline, you often have your tryouts in the late winter or early spring, and then cheer all the way through until December if your football team is successful, or throughout the winter during basketball season. That means a full year of cheering with the same people, with the same coaches, in the same locations, often in the same uniform. This kind of uniformity of activity can lead to monotony. When the season becomes a burden, it is easy for your squad to become disengaged from practice and each other. However, there are some things that you can do to help you and your teammates stay engaged throughout the season.

Relationships Are Important

The first and most important thing you can do to work on engagement is to work on relationships. Relationships matter. You and your teammates have a long year together. Because of this, it is important that each of you have open paths of communication that allow you to speak with each other in an honest way that builds bridges rather than tearing them down. Nothing is worse than having to spend a year cheering with people that you do not get along with. Work hard on building relationships and trust within your team. Put in the effort to make your squad a group of people that you care for, and who care for you. Year-long seasons are much easier when you are concerned about each other’s well-being, both physical and mental. Only by having that sense of community concern can you build engagement throughout the year.

Have Fun!

You joined your squad because you enjoy cheerleading. Cheerleading should be fun! So the next thing that you and your teammates can do to stay engaged throughout the season is to make it fun. The cheerleading season can be a grind. Skills training, skills practice, the constant run of competitions performances and games can often make it seem like all you are ever doing is cheering. Practices can quickly become a chore, especially once you’ve already got the basic skills you’re going to be using all year. However, this is when you can gamify your experience. Make skills work into a game, and engage your teammates with a little friendly competition on the mat. Think about doing lib-offs, or a jump contest, or having a dance off. Initiating these small competitions within your squad to help work on skills that you will need when you are performing will make it a little bit more fun. Just working on motions or jumps all day can be mind-numbingly boring. On the other hand, competing with your teammates to see who has the best jumps is fun and lets you work with each other on skills in a way which is both supportive and engaging. Only by making practice more fun can you increase the engagement level for you and your team, especially once you get into the doldrums of November and December.

Good Vibes and Gladiators

One of the most important things about increasing engagement for your athletes is to realize that engagement begins with you. If you come into practice, a game, or a competition and are angry or unhappy, it is easy to become disengaged from what is happening in the moment. When you walk into cheerleading, it is important to put away your other cares and concerns and be present for your squad. This can be really hard – the other issues in your life are important and deserve your attention. But there is a time and place for that, and that time and place is not on the mat. Once you tighten your shoes and get ready for practice, bring the good vibes and be positive and supportive towards your teammates. During the next few hours you need to be a gladiator – fighting for every stunt, sticking every landing, punching every motion. You can help your teammates become engaged by practicing full engagement yourself, and leading by example.

As the cheerleading season stretches on, it is easy to fall into bad habits. Checking your phone during practice time, coming in late, complaining about the practice schedule – these are all common examples of unengaged athletes. However, if you can build community and relationships with your teammates, help to create fun and friendly gamified practices, and lead by example, you will see a transformation in those undesired behaviors. Cheerleading is a sport that requires you to be “on” all the time – and this can be emotionally draining. Don’t be afraid to take a little time to recharge. Carve out some personal time to deal with your own feelings, and be honest with yourself about where you stand. If you can do all these things you can help keep your athletes engaged.

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You may have heard that Varsity brands recently announced the teams that have been invited to compete in the 2022 Majors invitational cheerleading tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 14th. This elite competition is an opportunity for some of the best teams in the nation to compete head to head. Only a few of the most accomplished teams are invited to perform, and for many, this is a precursor for the 2022 Cheerleading World Championships. So what are the Majors, how are teams selected, and how can you follow the action?

What Are the Majors?

Begun in 2012, the Varsity Brand Cheerleading Majors is a very exclusive cheerleading competition. It is hosted once each year and is only open to teams competing in the Senior Level 6 division. Officials at Varsity watch the performances of teams at the major competitions of both this year and the previous year to determine the most elite cheerleading squads in the nation. Once those teams are selected they are invited to compete at this small but important cheerleading contest. Only 22 teams are selected each year, and each team on this year’s roster is a potential favorite to be a level 6 World Champion. While the staff at Varsity watch performances from teams from all over the country, a squad can win an automatic bid into the Majors with a performance at JAMfest Cheer Super Nationals. The competition allows the dominant teams in their respective divisions to showcase their talent on the national stage in a small, intimate environment unlike any other cheerleading competition in the world!

Last Year’s Winners

Last year was a difficult year for many of the teams that continued to compete nationally despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many of the competitions were held virtually, and those that were held in person had significant changes to their format and rules to prevent the widespread proliferation of the disease. Despite these challenges, several teams were represented at last year’s Majors, showing the world why they are the best of the best! Here are the 2020 Major’s Champions:

Small All-Girl: Cheer Extreme

Medium All-Girl: Woodlands Elite

Large All-Girl: Cheer Extreme

Small Coed: Brandon All-Stars

Medium Coed: Prodigy All Stars

Large Coed: Top Gun

This Year’s Teams

Allstar cheerleading has made a huge comeback this year, with many teams competing at or above their 2019 levels. To recognize this Varsity Brands has chosen to highlight 22 of the best teams from across the United States, and invited them to compete at the Majors. Here are this year’s participants:

Senior Large: Cheer Athletics Panthers; Cheer Extreme Senior Elite; The Stingray Allstars Orange

Senior Large Coed: Cheer Athletics Cheetahs; The Stingray Allstars Steel

Senior Medium: The Stingray Allstars Peach; Woodlands Elite Generals;

Senior Medium Coed: Prodigy Allstars Midnight; Woodlands Elite Black Ops; The California All Stars Black Ops

Senior Small: Cheer Extreme SSX; Rain Athletics Aqua; The California All Stars Lady Bullets

Senior Small Coed: ACE Cheer Company Warriors: Brandon All Stars Senior Black

Senior Extra Small: Cheer Central Suns Lady Suns; South Coast Cheer Fearless; Twist & Shout Obsession; The California All Stars Vixens

Senior Extra Small Coed: CJA Team Gunz; Twist & Shout Diamonds; GymTyme Illinois Fever

Exhibition: Cheer Extreme Coed Elite; Cheer Extreme Smoex; Cheersport Great White Sharks

How to watch

The 2022 MAJORS will be hosted in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 14th. Tickets for the live event can be purchased from this link. The competition will also be broadcast live on Varsity TV. Whether you see the action face-to-face or on Varsity TV, get ready for an exhibition of the most amazing teams with some of the most epic cheerleading mixes in the world! For up-to-the-minute updates, follow the competition on Twitter: @MAJORScheer.

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