As we enter the competitive season, we thought we’d share a few fun facts about cheerleading competitions! While many experienced cheerleaders may be aware of these facts, many cheer newbies and parents may not. There’s a lot to learn about cheer competitions. What are the rules? How old does one have to be to start competing? What do judges look for when watching you perform? While it would take forever to explain all aspects of competitions, here are just a few basics everyone should know: A competitive cheer squad must include at least five members and as many as 36 (depending on the age group). Cheerleaders as young as five years old can participate in competitive cheer! Their division is cutely and appropriately called “Tiny Cheer.” In 2011, cheerleaders fought to get competitive cheerleading its well-deserved sport status. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The NCAA still doesn’t recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport, which means it can’t be considered a championship sport. Over the years, Cheer Athletics has won the most Worlds medals – 32! They’ve won 15 golds, 10 silvers, and 7 bronzes. The second highest is California All Stars with 19 medals. Maddie Gardner made history in 2010 when she performed a ball up 360 tick-tock. It was the first time a cheerleader has ever performed this stunt at Worlds. When it comes to judging, scores aren’t just about nailing stunts. Points also depend on sharp arm motions. Sometimes parents and others in the stands will think a cheerleader nailed her cheer motions but won’t realize that points were lost because her arms were too loose or limp. Safety is a huge concern at competitions. Major points will be deducted if a squad performs stunts that are considered illegal in their group level. Also, if a flyer lands head down (even if she’s caught), that can be considered a safety violation, since she could have landed on her head or neck. Judges look at a lot of factors when watching a performance, including: tumbling skills, jumps, cheers, choreography, execution, tosses, arm and body motions, and transitions between each part of the routine. This makes it so a cheer squad can’t be good at just one element. In order to win, a team must be a great team overall. Are you competing this season? What is your favorite thing about cheer competitions?