Rules & Scoring

NEW! Dance Membership Requirement

Dance Membership

USA Cheer, the organization responsible for reviewing and updating cheerleading safety standards, has developed a comprehensive Dance Membership Program, which includes a background check, athlete protection training, acknowledgement of concussion training with return to participation guidance, and a member code of conduct. We realize this falls under the USA Cheer family; however, we know how important and pertinent this information is for dance coaches. Because of this, we will be working with USA Cheer for dance coaches to complete this course. 

Beginning with the upcoming 2021-22 competition season, Varsity Spirit will require that all school dance coaches, choreographers and personnel wishing to access the warmup area, backstage, coaches’ box or music table at our competitions have a USA Cheer Dance Membership.  

Varsity Spirit will cover the $33 membership fee for the 2021-22 season. You must complete your membership requirements before your first competition. December 1 is the last day to complete the requirements to receive this membership free of charge for the upcoming season. Please note that the background check will take 2-10 days to be processed and returned. 

When checking in at Varsity Spirit competitions, you will now simply provide proof of membership for each person from your organization who wishes to go into the warmup area, backstage or coaches’ box. Upon proof of membership, each coach will receive a wristband that will allow them access.

The Dance Membership is available on the USA Cheer website. Once your membership is complete, you can print your membership card, or save and display it on your mobile device at event registration along with your photo ID. This season’s membership will be active until May 31, 2022. 

CLICK HERE to learn more and complete the steps required before your first competition. Use code VADA21 to receive your free Dance Membership by December 1, 2021.

High School

High School Rule Books

2021-2022 School Rule Book:

2021-2022 Soloist & Small Group Rule Book:

High School Scoring

2021-2022 School Scoresheets:

2021-2022 School Game Day Scoresheet:

2021-2022 School Scoring Webinar:

2021-2022 School Game Day Webinar: 

2021-2022 School Scoring Webinar Presenters:


College Rule Book

2022 NCA & NDA Collegiate Rule Book:

College Scoring

2022 Collegiate Sample Score Sheets:

2022 Collegiate Scoring Webinar:

2022 Collegiate Scoring Webinar Presenters:

NEW! Competition Resources

Criteria for Selecting Judges

Judges selected for one of our regional events should meet these standards

  • Have no direct affiliation with any team/gym who will be attending (or potentially will be attending) in a division they will judge. This includes coaching, choreographing, cleaning, etc.
  • Must be available for pre-event training via webinar at a time/date to be determined
  • Must pass and be trained and educated in one or more of the category scoresheets that are used for judging.
  • Must be of the highest ethical and moral values. Must possess and maintain the highest standards of integrity, ethics and professionalism.
  • Must complete Varsity Spirit Compliance Course to include
    • Background Check
    • Code of Conduct
    • Understanding, Recognizing and Reporting the Maltreatment of Children
    • Affidavit of Good Moral Character
  • Must be well-respected in the cheerleading, dance, band and/or song/pom industry.
  • Judges will be informed that any behavior deemed to be unsupportive of Varsity Spirit’s mission may be factored into the final selection of judges.

In addition to the regional event standards these additional criteria will be used when selecting our National Championship Judges.

  • Preferred to have judged or will judge 2 or more “Regional” type events during the 2021-2022 season.
  • Preferred to have been a judge or equitable experience for at least 3 years.

Judge Selection – Example Conflicts of Interest

Providing accurate, fair, and unbiased feedback for our customers is one of our top priorities.  With that said, our selected panel of judges must have no affiliation with teams in a division they are scheduled to judge.

Example of potential Conflicts of Interest:

  • Current Coach and/or Choreographer
  • Former Coach and/or Choreographer and/or Athlete
    • Must be 5 years out from any program
    • Must not have had any contact with a team this season
    • Did not go to any practices or performances in the last 5 years
  • Married / Partner / Dating / Related to coach
  • Parent of an athlete on a team

Due to the size of our National Championships, judge’s with conflicts may be selected. Every effort will be made to ensure that a judge with a potential Conflict of Interest is not scheduled to judge that team or school’s divisions.

Pre-Event Legality Review

As a coach, it is important to be current on the NDA Safety Rules. If you have questions concerning any safety rules or questions regarding specific performance elements, please follow these steps. This will ensure that you receive a timely and accurate response to your video inquiry.

  • All questions must be in written form.
  • Due to the differences in interpretation and terminology, no phone calls will be accepted.
  • Due to variance in camera angles/perspective, rulings on videos are not guaranteed.
  • Do not rely on prior rulings from NDA Championships.
  • Costume approval must be submitted in photograph format with at least one (1) athlete wearing the costume in Front and back views of costume must be shown. Official approval cannot be given to sketches or drawings.
  • Music approval must be submitted in either MP3 or WAV.
  • For all legality questions, you must send a video that contains the skill in question (each skill in question should be sent as a separate video clip).
  • A separate video must be submitted for each competition to ensure legality.
  • Video must include the following:
    1. Front, side and back view of skill.
    2. Name of the Championship where you will be performing skill and the Division you will be performing in.
    3. Include your name, team name, email and phone number with your video.
    4. Do not send the entire Routine, only the skill(s) in Your video will be kept on file at NDA.

VIDEOS THAT ARE NOT IN THE ABOVE FORMAT WILL NOT BE VIEWED. Videos MUST be received at least THREE WEEKS PRIOR to the Championship date. Videos not received in the three weeks prior to the championship date will NOT be reviewed.

Email videos to:

During-Event Scoring & Legality Review

2021-2022 Scoring Review Process & Legality Review Process:

Judge Directory

2021-2022 Judge Directory:
Coming Soon

Judge's Training Course

Want to gain a better understanding of NDA competition scoring? Sign up for our NDA Judges Training course where you can become educated in how our expertly trained judges score your routines at competition. Learn more about NDA’s scoring philosophy, Score Sheet Captions and more. Sign up by December 31st to gain access to this recorded course for just $25 per participant!


Digital Dance Critique

Taking your routine to the next level is easy with NDA’s newest industry-leading cleaning tool! Get a professional’s perspective and feedback. NDA will select an expert to provide objective verbal and written feedback. Helping your team enhance their technical skills, movement quality, uniformity, spacing, formations, staging and much more! There is no better way to catch mistakes and critique a routine than seeking a fresh perspective – NDA’s Digital Dance Critique does just that!