When your squad hits the mat, you know you’re going to pump up the crowd with your cheers, stunts, and dance. A steady beat and familiar lyrics never hurt, of course! Music is a huge part of what makes each routine unique. Every team has to perform stunts and jumps based on the judges’ scoring sheet (some put more emphasis on pyramids and transitional stunts while others give more points for cheer creativity). Picking the right music and choreographing your routine to it in a fun, fresh way can give your squad the push it needs to stand out. Here are some tips for choosing the best music for your routine! Have a Theme for Your Routine Pick songs that coordinate in some way. You can incorporate your team’s mascot; for example, if your mascot is a lion, use songs like The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight ” and Katy Perry’s “Roar ” in your mix and add sound effects of roaring for when you hit your stunts and jumps. Alternatively, you can pick songs of the same genre or time period (boy bands, “60s classics, musicals) or pick a keyword like “fun ” or “smile ” and choose songs that all use that word in their choruses. When the songs you mix are cohesive, it gives your whole routine polish. Use Sound Effects Be sure to incorporate sound effects in your music for when you plan to hit stunts, jumps, or a team motion. Common sounds include bells, whistles, and fireworks; mix up what sounds you use and use them back-to-back and spread out. For example, a longer sound effect that goes from low to high works well when you’re putting up a stunt, and following it up with a short, crisp sound signals your flyer hitting a motion. Rapid sound effects work well for jumps or tumbling. You don’t want to overload your music, though, so be sure to spread out your sound effects to where you need them and avoid using them during dance choreography unless they’re highlighting important moves. The end of the routine also benefits from one last sound effect to emphasize your final motion. Choose wisely! Play with Lyrics One technique that never fails to add a little cuteness to the middle of a routine is when the whole squad lip-syncs a lyric from your music. After a particularly complex string of choreography and cheer skills, add a clip where there’s no background music or the music gets quieter to emphasize the lyric, and have the whole squad lip-sync with spirited attitude to the audience. Include a few simple motions or use this time to transition to your next formation. It gives you a chance to catch your breath and adds a pause that will grab everyone’s attention. For example, if your music includes Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off, ” have the squad lip-sync “This…sick…beat! ” Be sure to bob your heads for maximum curl bouncing and make over-the-top facial expressions. As with anything, don’t overdo it. The move will stand out more if it covers a short and sweet section. Predict Your Competition If everyone you know had that one summer hit stuck in their head forever, chances are, lots of squads will want to use it in their competition mixes. Instead of only using the latest and greatest Top 40 tracks, consider older music or less famous songs from popular artists so that your track sounds different. Adding a contemporary hit or two doesn’t hurt, but keep in mind that other squads are considering the same music. Take Advantage of Student Resources Is there a student in your school who can mix music? Is there a local college with a music program? Consider asking students for samples of their work when looking to order your music. Particularly in the case of college students studying music production, they can have access to programs and equipment to create a professional sound and may offer more reasonable pricing options. If they’re not a right fit for you, thank them for their time, but if you can coordinate with students on your music, it’s win-win: You get a great sound for a great price, and they get a paid job and publicity for their work. Good luck putting together a killer track for your competition routine!