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 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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How to organize your competition practice

Competitive cheerleading is hard. There are a lot of moving parts that have to work smoothly together to create the epic routine needed to win a competition. Coordinating all those elements takes a lot of planning and effort. Critical to success is having practical competition practices that follow a consistent pattern.

Research has shown that consistent practices can help athletes achieve greater levels of performance quickly. Establishing those best practices as part of your everyday competition cheerleading process is important if you want to help yourself and your teammates achieve your goals this season.

Getting results through consistency

When practices are disorganized, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals. When teammates are arguing about who should unroll the mats, or why someone isn’t at practice it can quickly derail the day. Only by clearly establishing expectations for every athlete on your squad can you and your team hope to be your best by the time your first competition rolls around.

There are some givens in how any practice is organized. Practice should start with active stretching and warm-up activities to reduce the likelihood of injury. It is easy to skip this step when it seems like time is of the essence, but injury prevention activities such as warm-ups and stretching should never be skipped. Any time you save would be lost if someone got hurt. Marking the routine, working on the transition and dance, and checking spacing are all ways that warm-up activities can be incorporated into routine practice.

Perfection before progression

Once your team is stretched and warmed up they should begin skills work. Isolate elements of skills and work on them until they are perfect. If people on your team are missing advanced skills, be prepared to do easier skills. Perfection of fundamental skills is critical to achieving more advanced ones. For example, if your team cannot consistently do extended single-leg stunts they should not be working on switch-ups.

The same holds true for tumbling. Be careful to avoid over-tumbling as part of your practice. If someone on your team cannot consistently land a skill, then they need to move back to a skill they can hit every time. Attempting skills which an athlete has not mastered are both dangerous, and can also negatively affect your execution score in your routine. Clean, effortless tumbling wins competitions.

Set the tone with music

While the fundamentals of how to structure a practice are well established (warm-up, stretching, skills isolation, skills combinations, full run-throughs), there are a lot of elements that can enhance the way in which those fundamentals happen. One of the things that can really impact competition practice is the integration of music into the process.

Athletes often share that they are energized by certain songs, and harnessing the power of music to create powerful practices can really help your team. Exercise physiology researchers have discovered that music can significantly enhance athletic performance. The distraction music provides can help divert an athlete’s attention away from feelings of fatigue. The dissociation through music can postpone the impact of fatigue and make you and your fellow athletes execute more efficiently.

Finding the right music to help your team can be difficult: not everyone enjoys the same songs. Consulting music professionals like those at can help you find the perfect selection of tracks to help keep your team motivated. A great practice soundtrack can not only help your team avoid fatigue, but can even make the routine seem easier. Brunel University research showed that motivational music made athletes feel like it took less effort to complete repetitive endurance activities.

Ending practice with self-care

Once skills review and routine practice are over, it is easy to just call it quits, roll up the mats, and head home. However, this is missing a critical element for you and your team. Athletic recovery through stretching and meditation can help your squad leave rejuvenated and refreshed instead of exhausted. Just spending a few minutes on mindfulness and meditation, while working on developing deep tissue stretching can reduce the likelihood of injury throughout the season.

The end of practice stretching can also be an opportunity for team building. Consider doing some basic sharing activities with the team while you are doing deep stretches. Doing so will not only help you feel a sense of connectedness with your team but will also distract from any discomfort the stretching produces. End practice with some silent meditation, allowing all the athletes to leave with a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and peace.

Cheerleading season is long and difficult. Having well-organized practices with clear goals and expectations can go a long way to making the entire process more pleasant. Think about selecting energizing music, incorporating active stretching, and finding a few moments of mindfulness at the end of practice to help make this the best season ever.

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The Secret to Improving Tumbling

One of the most frustrating things about tumbling is that developing new skills can take a lot of time and effort. While a handspring or a standing tuck might come easy for one person, it can take years of practice for another. Once you graduate to advanced tumbling it can become even more difficult. Many people spend years working on their full-twisting layout without ever making significant progress. So why can it be so difficult to improve tumbling, and how can you blow past blocks and barriers? There is a secret to improvement which no one wants to hear; to go forward, you must often go backward first.

Establishing Proper Skills Progressions

Some tumbling skills take more power, others take more technique. As a result, sometimes athletes and their coaches will skip steps on technical skills and focus on power skills. While this often allows athletes to get to certain skills more quickly, it can cost them in the long run. For example, a standing back tuck requires a lot of strength and courage, but the skill itself is mechanically simple. Some people learn the skill in just a few minutes. However, a back handspring is considered a less advanced skill than a tuck, but has significantly more mechanical complexity. It is easy to just skip the back handspring and focus on the tuck, but not having a handspring means that most skills beyond a standing tuck are now unavailable.

In order to get to the highest-level skills in the fastest way possible, it is important to establish a proper progression of skills, each of which is a stepping stone to more advanced ones. Working on forward rolls and backwards rolls might seem like a waste of time, but the control and coordination needed to cleanly execute those skills transfers over to later, more advanced ones. Only by firmly establishing skills progressions can you move on to the most advanced skills safely and quickly.

Perfection Before Progression

Once you have established a skills progression, it is important to perfect each skill before working on the next ones. You might already be able to do a cartwheel, but a handstand is a skill that must be mastered before moving to a cartwheel. Taking the time to work on that handstand will improve your strength and balance and lead to improved control, stability, and power for a skill like a back handspring.

It is easy to skip steps, it is easy to say “I can already do a round-off, so I don’t need to work on a handstand.” However, making the decision to skip steps or rushing through them before you have perfected them will cost you in the long run. You may move quickly into walkovers only to plateau, or you may skip walkovers and end up working on a back handspring for years because you never mastered the fundamental skills that lead to the proper execution of a back handspring.

The Real Secret to Advanced Tumbling

The secret no one wants to hear about improving tumbling is that when an athlete plateaus on a skill, they need to move backwards. The most common issue that keeps someone from consistently landing a round-off back handspring back tuck is not the back handspring or the tuck: it is the round-off. Issues with gymnastics fundamentals – the inability to hold a handstand, or do a front walkover – often lead to persistent issues later in tumbling progressions which cannot be fixed until the fundamental skills are remediated.

No one wants to hear they can’t land their full because of their round-off, yet fixing a round-off is frequently the solution for an athlete that can’t land their full. It takes a lot of discipline from a coach and a willingness to say and do things that are unpopular with the athlete to convince someone to spend hours working on their handstand when they just want to land their double full. The athletes who can consistently execute high-level skills have a mastery of their fundamentals which is the result of long hours spent practicing. There are exceptions, but the athletes who can throw double fulls can almost always hold a handstand for 60 seconds as well. The relationship between the skills may not be obvious, but the correlation between the two should be.

Athletes spend hundreds of hours working on perfecting their tumbling. The progressions are difficult, and mastering each skill takes a lot of time and effort. As a result, it is easy to skip a step here or there, just to get to that handspring or tuck. While that may work in the short term, there will be dividends to pay for that decision in the long run. Only by careful mastery of fundamental skills can an athlete advance to the most difficult ones. Skipping steps, to moving on before a skill is mastered will ultimately result in skills plateaus later down the line, or even worse, an injury.

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Dealing with difficult teammates

We have all been there, at a practice where everyone has unrolled the mats, finished stretching, and is ready to go, but there is one problem: someone is missing. When your teammate finally shows up they seem unconcerned that everyone has been waiting for them, and within a few minutes of practice has already picked a fight with another member of your squad.

There are things that you can do to change the vibe. With patience, communicating with the troublesome teammate, and asking for help from your leadership, you can find a solution that not only solves the problem but does so in a way that avoids future issues.

Kindness and patience are important parts of any group dynamic, but there are limitations. If someone on your squad is threatening or bullying other teammates, the leadership for your team needs to know immediately. Do not attempt to deal with the issue on your own: doing so may escalate a potentially dangerous situation.

Practice patience

One of the hardest things to do when you are frustrated with a situation is to stay calm. However, yelling and screaming at a member of your team is not going to make the situation any better, even if it feels good at the moment. Your goal should be to avoid letting the misbehaving squad member ruffle your feathers. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Sometimes when athletes act out they are doing so just to get a reaction. By refusing to react you are taking away the satisfaction of behaving inappropriately.

Despite the fact that your squad member is being unfair and inconsiderate, you need to put on a pleasant face. By being polite and unaffected by their antics you can diffuse the situation. Any attempt to directly confront them in front of the rest of the team is doomed to failure: they will feel embarrassed and are more likely to lash out even further. Try to keep a peaceful vibe and focus on having a productive practice, despite their outbursts and lack of consideration.

Have a courageous conversation

When practice is over and you can have a private conversation, that is the time to speak with your teammate. Trying to have the conversation in front of their peers may make the individual self-conscious, and the conversation is unlikely to be productive. When you speak with them, focus on the behaviors which have become problematic. Be courteous and respectful, and avoid any name-calling or labels. Saying, “you’ve been late to practice three times this week,” is better than, “why are you being so rude and lazy?”

Talk about how their behavior is affecting other members of your squad. Frame it as trying to help the whole team, rather than focusing on individuals. Once you have explained your complaint, listen. Do not interrupt, let them fully explain their point of view, even if you disagree with their analysis. If you interrupt their conversation they will quickly shut down. Only by fully letting them speak their peace can you leave space for improvement.

Often the problem is a miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Perhaps there are things going on in your teammates’ life that are making it difficult to fully commit to the practice schedule. Coming from a place where you are actively attempting to understand their perspective will help them feel comfortable and is more likely to have a lasting change.

Work with leadership to establish expectations and consequences

Sometimes practicing patience and having courageous conversations is not enough. If you have not seen any effort at improvement and your teammate still seems to be difficult, shows up late, or is disrespectful towards the team and team expectations, the next course of action is to ask your leadership for help. This could be as simple as talking to the captain of your squad about the next steps. However, if the problems persist then the coach might need to be made aware of the situation.

Often, the captain or the coach is already aware of the situation, but this doesn’t mean your input is not valuable. Sharing your opinions with leadership after you have tried to speak privately with your teammate can give them insight into the problem of which they were not previously aware. You may not have any formal authority, but your leadership does. When you speak to the captain or coach about the situation, be specific. Focus on the behavior, and what you have already done to make it better. Focus on the actions, not any personal interpretation. It can be hard to be objective when the problems feel so personal, but stepping away from an emotional response will make it easier for everyone on the team to move forward.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of personalities on every cheerleading squad, and those personalities are not always going to mesh. However, having open and honest communication about behavior in a way that does not belittle or embarrass your teammates is important to ensure that you can continue to work together throughout the year. It is a long season, so avoid emotional outbursts when you feel something is unfair, and instead focus on being calm and having direct conversations about the specific actions that upset you. Only by doing this can you hope to have a productive year and avoid unnecessary drama.

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A Brief History of Cheerleading Music

Cheerleading music has changed a lot in the last several decades. In the 1980’s, a team would simply take a song from a CD or cassette and perform to it with no sound effects or voice overs. Classics like Jock Jams became cheerleading pep rally staples, and then became something of a cliché. This decade saw the proliferation of nationally organized competitions in the sport. But the contests had a lot of issues, as did the music that played at them.

In the 1990’s the double cassette player became a critical tool for building your teams cheerleading mix. Coaches would take a selection of songs and literally count to eight while it played, hit pause at the end of the section, swap out the cassette tape, then count over the next section. This allowed athletes to create a cheerleading mix, but there were still no sound effects or voice-overs, and the transitions could be jarring. Cheer music was pretty amateur, even at its best.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s digital music editing became possible, and competitions were flooded with Top-40 music mixes with sound effects and customized voice-overs. Software like Cool Edit and Acid Pro gave anyone with a computer the ability to mix music, and this led to the development of the cheerleading music industry as we know it today. Professional cheer music was no longer exclusively for all-star programs: now even high school, middle school, and recreational teams had access to high-quality cheer mixes.

By the 2010’s the best cheerleading music was produced as professionally and seamlessly as the top pop music production studios in the country. Mash-ups of the hottest tracks in the country were being produced with software like Pro Tools, and cheerleading music became available on streaming services like Spotify. However, with this polish and professionalism came increased scrutiny by the music industry. Most of the songs in these cheer mixes were the intellectual property of the record labels and music artists who had created the originals. Cheerleading music was considered its own genre, had national recognition, and it was producing revenue.

By the mid 2010s the music industry had limited the kinds of music which most cheerleading music producers were allowed to use in their mixes. A large number of the major cheerleading event producers banned the use of cheer music which includes copyrighted materials without a license to edit the music by the original artist. This ushered in a new generation of cheer mixes, with cheer music producers using properly licensed and royalty-free music or producing their own original tracks for all-star programs.

Cheerleading music has transformed as technology and the sport have expanded, creating amazing works of art, but also pushing the limits of intellectual property law. What does the next decade hold? Only time will tell, but the efforts of professionals like the artists at can help you stay on top of the latest trends and make certain that your music aligns with national and regional rules as well as U.S. Copyright law.

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Since the 19th century and the advent of organized sport, cheerleading has been a way for fans and students to show their school spirit and pride. The organization of dedicated students cheering for and supporting their fellow student-athletes has an almost 200-year-old history. However, cheerleading was an almost exclusively male activity until the last 70 years.

That all changed during the 1940s, where World War II required that most collegiate age men be involved in the war effort, and cheerleading became a primarily female sport. The arrival of women as the primary athletes involved in cheer meant new choreography and dance as part of the crowd appeal. That meant incorporating music into cheerleading routines.

By the 1970s, professional squads like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders began performing during the Superbowl. Their high-energy routines, based exclusively on dance, were a huge hit and brought the dance element of cheer into the forefront, trickling into high school and college cheer squads. The nascence of competitive cheer in the late 1970s amplified the importance of dance, and along with that the importance of cheerleading music more broadly.

Different performance venues require different music

Sideline cheer focuses primarily on band dances, with the marching band providing the soundtrack. A few teams might occasionally bring a loudspeaker system and perform to recorded music, but the majority of the performances are to live music. At pep rallies and competitions, however, the music has transitioned almost exclusively to recorded music, with energetic mixes of independently recorded tracks mixed together. In the last decade, the laws governing music licensing have been more rigorously enforced in cheer, making it necessary to either get permission from the recording artists, or use a company which has secured those permissions to provide the music.

Modern cheer music is critical to locking in the best possible performance from the athletes on the floor. The use of custom cheer songs and voice-overs allow cheerleaders to create energetic and intricate routines that showcase a variety of skills. Tumbling, stunting, and dance are all essential elements, and each one requires music which highlights the unique stylistic requirements and syncopation of that particular section.

How cheer music transforms the visual experience

When a team is doing synchronized running tumbling, where multiple athletes are performing dangerous skills in intricate patterns at high levels of speed, the tempo and energy of the music in that part of the routine needs to reflect the challenge of those skills. Sound effects highlighting twisting skills are different from the ones that highlight skills that do not twist. Selecting music that both captures the frenetic energy of the section while also emphasizing the most important elements is important not only to invigorating the athletes as they perform, but also enhancing the experience for the audience and judges watching the performance. The same is true for stunting and dance: the best cheerleading music will enhance the visual experience of the routine in a way that results in greater enthusiasm from the audience and higher scores from the judges.

How cheer music transforms the experience for the performers

The right cheerleading music does more than put critical moments of a cheerleading routine into proper focus. The best cheer music inspires the athletes performing the routine to give their maximum effort. Music that captures the spirit and energy of a squad can help to lift the entire team, breathing new life into their execution. When the music speaks to the athletes of any sport it can help them accomplish their goals, but the perfect cheer mix can be transformative, making their exhibition more attention-grabbing and dynamic. Music tells a story, and when the music and the story are in effortless alignment, it results in a similarly effortless show.

Synchronization of movement and music has been shown in physiological research to reduce fatigue and push athletes beyond their normal capacity. Having custom music makes the routine’s soundtrack more than just a storytelling experience, it makes the music a possession of the athletes, something they can own. The opportunity to demonstrate that ownership, and pride in the music can inspire a team to reach new levels. Finding that new level music can increase athlete confidence, and a confident team that can execute a mistake-free performance is a team that will do well on the scoresheet.

 Music can set the pace and the stage for a cheerleading routine. The right music can give the athletes performing it confidence and inspiration. Having music that is uniquely tailored to the style and attitude of the team can make that music a source of identity and pride. Combining all those elements with the perfect cheer music track is central to a perfect performance and higher scores.

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Cheer for a cause

Supporting your Local Community

It is easy during the cheer competition and performance season to think about all the things that you have to do over the course of the cheerleading year. Holding tryouts, practicing, going to cheerleading camp: all of these things tend to take precedence over the summer. Once the school year starts, things become even more hectic. Planning pep rallies, competing, and of course, supporting your team at your school, all must become priorities.

As a cheerleader, however, you have a responsibility to support people in your community that don’t play sports as well. One of the things that you and your teammates might want to think about in the future are ways that you can support people in your community. Community outreach is a critical part of the cheerleading world. You need to be able to give back to the people around you, and as a highly visible member of the school and local community, you can really make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.

You and your squad should think about what sorts of activities you would like to do to help the local community. While there are obvious things like going to community food banks or helping at soup kitchens, try to think of other ways you can provide support for people. As a cheerleader, you have the ability to go out and talk to people away which is often unique compared to other groups in your school. Think about going out to local elementary schools and reaching out to students and faculty there.

Going to local schools and doing reading activities for kindergarten or elementary school students takes a big burden off of teachers and community leaders, while also helping to build solidarity and school spirit. As a cheerleader, you are something of a mini-celebrity, especially to the elementary school kids. Being able to use that cache to make a difference is important.

More traditional public service can also be very helpful. Talk to your local community leaders about ways that you can help and support them. Local churches and youth groups are often looking for people like cheerleaders who can come in and talk to their members about the pressures and difficulties of school. Having a peer talking to other students often helps make this information more accessible.

You do a great job of supporting the teams at your school, but you can support so many more people. One of the wonderful things about cheerleaders is that we have so much to give and a burning desire to help others. By really harnessing that desire, you can make a difference for a lot of the people in your local area. You can make cheerleading more than just a sport: you can use the unique abilities developed in cheerleading to improve people’s lives for the better.

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The Perfect Warm-up

Fine-tuning the warm-up process

You’ve done it! Your squad has worked hard, achieved your goals, and is now prepared to compete at your first cheerleading competition of the year. Your skills are polished, your dance is epic, and you got the best cheer music mix you’ve ever heard. However, there is still one thing that you all need to really make sure that you knock it out of the park. A perfect performance requires a perfect warm-up.

Consistency is Key

Cheerleading competitions can be hectic, but coming up with a warm-up routine for you and your teammates before your first performance is important. Having something that you’ve done before and that you regularly practice will help you and your squad find calmness in a situation that can feel overwhelming. There’s comfort in knowing that you are doing something that you’ve done routinely as a part of the preparation for the competition. Cheerleading competitions can often feel foreign and unfamiliar, and this will help anchor your team and ensure that your hard work can be displayed at the highest level possible.

Start with a Stretch

Think about what you and your teammates normally do at practice. Your squad probably starts each practice with stretching. Having a consistent stretching regimen that you and your teammates use each day before practice can be implemented during competition season as well. Think about finding calming music to play during stretching and practice having stretching time at practice be quiet and meditative. Resist the temptation to chat during flexibility work, instead use that time to channel your thoughts.

Know the Warm-Up Format

Running through stunts and tumbling the same way each practice is important, however not every cheerleading competition allows the same number of mats with the same amount of time before you compete. Having some flexibility is important. That said, you and your teammate should already know exactly what you’re going to do when you get to tumbling. When you get to the stunting mats you should know the exact order and sequence that you’re going to warm up your stunts. Knowing these things in advance can really take a lot of the stress out of the competition process. Some of your teammates will feel very overwhelmed, frightened, or even panicked before they go out on the competition floor. Having a routine that is the same as what they do normally will give them a little bit more certainty before they go out and perform.

Find Calmness in Shared Experiences

The moment before you go out on the mat can seem very short. But often there’s a 30 to 45-minute wait from the time that you finish your last warmup station before you get to compete on the floor. Having something that you and your team can do to bond together during this time will really help. Nerves can become frazzled during the waiting period: some time for mindfulness and meditation will benefit everyone.

Competition cheerleading is stressful. Thus, it is paramount for your squad to come up with ways to battle the stress. Deep breathing and mindfulness activities are part of the solution. Team bonding and warm-up activities are another key part. Creating a consistent stretching regimen as well as consistently practicing the ways that you’re going to warm up tumbling and stunting when you’re in competition pre-season will play a part in helping you put together the best performance of your life.

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