Most cheerleaders spend a fair share of their time online scoping out cheer performances and competition routines. (In fact, varsity.com is one of the top places where you can view the best high school and college teams in the country!) There’s an obvious difference between standout teams and teams that are still striving to make it to the top, but how do they get to that level? Besides increasing difficulty, the easiest and most effective way to turn your competition routine into a stunning performance is simply by cleaning it up. Follow the suggestions below for a routine that’s sharp, clean and ready to wow the crowd.

STUNTS:

1. For load-ins, each base, top and back spot needs to begin in the same position on exactly the same count.

2. Every dip, both down and up, should be on a specific count. This will sync stunt groups across the entire team.

3. Body positions for tops should have counts to hit arm and leg motions.

4. For bases and back spots, squeeze your core, legs and shoulders to reduce movement under your stunts.

5. Execution is crucial on score sheets. Teams will have the potential to earn more points on easier stunts that hit than tough stunts that drop.

PYRAMIDS:

6. Practice transitioning from the formation prior to the pyramid itself. This will help teammates find the route they should follow to get into position the quickest.

7. Work on timing between both sides of a pyramid. Because pyramids link transitions and skills together, each dip, hit and hold needs to be accounted for to keep stunt groups in sync.

8. Creative and interesting pyramids aren’t always the most difficult ones. Choose elements that match your skill level, and practice hitting those before working up to more elite levels.

TUMBLING:

9. Make it a priority to focus on tumbling technique at each and every practice.

10. For running tumbling, syncing steps, hurdles, round-offs, skills and landings with counts will keep everyone together.

11. To increase the visual component, land without taking any steps and then stand together on the next count.

CHEER:

12. Keep motions crisp by using proper motion placement and moving from one motion to the next with precision and accuracy.

13. Signs should hit on exact words and go up, down and flip together. Keep in mind that cradling with signs is illegal; however, signs may be kept when dismounting to the ground or back to the load position.

14. When using poms, hit on key words that will lead the crowd. Every motion should be planned, including spiriting.

For more competition tips, download the latest issue of American Cheerleader.