Cheerleading judges emerged with the growth and popularity of cheerleading competitions. At first, cheer competitions were used to rank college squads, but in the 1970s the first cheerleading competition was broadcast to America. That broadcast inspired competition-dedicated teams, known as All Stars, to pop up all across America. With those teams, organized competitions were formed, and with it a whole new aspect of cheerleading was born: judges.

The duties and expectations of cheerleading judges have shifted with the expansion and growth of cheerleading. What used to be a fun weekend commitment is now an almost full-time, sometimes highly stressful and public position! There are several requirements that must be met, scoring systems to learn - and the time commitment does not usually match the financial compensation. Even so, most cheerleading judges are involved because they have a passion for the sport and the skills, and are happy to be involved.

Who becomes a cheerleading judge?
Former cheerleaders, from local and professional positions, are the most likely judges for cheerleading. Some competitions even offer guest judge spots to current All Stars that are recognizable (due to their championship status).

Cheerleading judges must have a background in cheerleading or a thorough understanding of the sport and the skills involved. They must be able to use the correct lingo and make quick decisions about scoring based on their own knowledge.

How are judging panels built?
Some judging panels consist of 3-5 judges that rate teams using a general point system on a scorecard. Other judging panels appoint specific judges to score different aspects of a performance "“ like safety, stunting and tumbling. Some panels will include a head judge that oversees that entire routine and determines the team's overall score.

What are cheerleading judges looking for?
Cheerleading judges are trained to look for specific things based on what competition they are judging. Some of the points they are watching for are: the number of tricks or stunts performed; timing and rhythm; originality; spirit; appearance; unity.

What other skills do cheerleading judges need to have?
For many cheerleading competitions, a judge can count on having a long day. Usually anywhere from 8 hours "“ 12 hours. For most of that time, the judge will have to be sitting!

A judge can't be looking down at their notepad during a performance "“ they could miss a key skill! Since they need to be able to take notes AND watch the performance "“ a judge needs to be able to take legible, sensible short hand notes.

A judge needs to be unbiased, so they need to be able to hide their reactions (positive and negative) to performances.