Rules & Scoring

USA CHEER Membership for Cheerleading & Dance Teams

NEW! USA Cheer Membership Requirement

USA Cheer has developed a comprehensive Membership Program, which includes a background check, athlete protection training, acknowledgement of concussion training with return to participation guidance, a member code of conduct, and safety training courses on risk management and safety rules.

Beginning with the upcoming 2021-22 competition season, Varsity Spirit will require that all school coaches, choreographers and personnel wishing to access the warmup area, backstage or coaches’ box at our competitions have a USA Cheer Coach or Professional 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 coach 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 USA Cheer 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 to complete the steps required before your first competition. Use code VACH21 to receive your free USA Cheer Membership by December 1, 2021. 

Which membership option should you select?
One coach per team (usually the Head Coach) must complete the Cheer Coach Membership, which requires the Safety and Risk Management course to be completed every four years. This has been a requirement at Varsity Spirit events for the last two years. This course is discounted to $75 for USA Cheer members and will be at the expense of the coach. If your course certification is up to date, you will not need to retake the course until it expires. All other coaches, choreographers and adults affiliated with the team who wish to access the warmup area, backstage or coaches’ box must complete the Professional Membership. If you are a college spirit coordinator that coaches cheer and dance, you do not need to complete the Dance Membership in addition to the Cheer Coach or Professional Membership. 

NEW! Dance Membership Requirement

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.

NEW! Competition Resources

We remain committed to fair and consistent scoring. Our goal is to evolve and provide the tools needed to all school teams this season for a clear understanding of divisions, rules, and scoring. To achieve this, we will follow the four guiding principles of transparency, fairness, integrity, and safety.

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

For Nationals/Championship events

  • 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.

Scoring Review Process (See Attached)

Click here for the USA Scoring Review Process.

Legality Review Process

United Spirit Association offers a service to help teams with legality and safety questions. Teams will be able to email skills in throughout the year to receive a legality or safety response. This service will help teams get a response with a video attached back to use in situations where the skill may be in question.

Teams are not required, but encouraged, to submit a safety video.

To email a video, the following must be included:

  1. The skill in question must be recorded by the team at practice. We are unable to accept videos from performances, competitions, or of other teams.
  2. All submissions must include the coach, team, and division.
  3. The recording will be reviewed as if every person in the video is included in the skill. This would include additional spotters.
  4. Videos are limited to 30 seconds and must be able to be viewed upright without rotating.
  5. The recording will be limited to attachments only. Links, video sharing and YouTube style videos will not be accepted. While this does limit the video size, you are able to submit multiple videos.
  6. All videos will either receive either a “legal” or “illegal” response. If the video receives an “illegal” response, the entire video will not be reviewed but stopped at the point that the video was illegal. *If the video is inconclusive, you will receive a response as to why we were unable to make a judgement. It is up to you as a coach to resubmit the video to be re-reviewed.

Videos that do not follow the above rules will not receive a response.

If you know that your video does not meet all the requirements above, please refilm/resubmit the video. Only videos that meet the above requirements will be reviewed.

Please send all videos to USARules@varsity.com.

Please note: Performing the skill at a prior event does not ensure that a skill is legal nor that it would have warranted a legality warning.  Only submitting the skill will make the skill eligible for a warning. USA can only guarantee this process will be accepted at USA-branded events. This would not include other Varsity-branded and state association events.

Click here for a complete list of changes for the 2021-2022 USA Cheer High School Rules.

Judges Directory

Coming soon!

USA Divisions, Rules & Scoring

USA Spirit Competitions: Divisions, Rules & Scoring

View our 2021-2022 USA Spirit Competition Information Packet 

For an overview of “What’s New” this season, please check out this quick reference guide!

View our 2021-2022 Spirit Scoresheets and Scoring Range Documents

Division Limitations

Song/Pom, Song/Jazz, Pep/Short Flag Safety Rules & Glossary

Questions on Tumbling, Stunt and Safety Rules?

Routines at all USA competitions must follow the 2020-2021 NFHS Rules Book, 2021-2022 USA High School Teams Show Cheer and Group Stunt Division Limitations, 2021-2022 USA Song/Pom/Pep Flag Safety Rules and/or  the 2021-2022 USA Song/Pom Division Limitations. To order a copy of the current NFHS Rules book please visit https://www.usacheer.org/high-school-cheer#_order.

Submitting a video is the only way to review a routine for potential safety violations.

For all legality, division limitations, or questions regarding specific performance elements, you may email a video that contains the skill in question.

All emailed videos must include the following:

  1. Name of the School and Division Level in the Subject Line of the email
  2. Videos should be in either Windows Media Player or Quicktime formats
  3. Clear, close up view of skill in question
  4. Do not send the entire routine, only the SKILL(S) in question
  5. Include your name, team name, division level, and phone number in the body of the email

Cheerleading videos can be emailed to Cmoon@varsity.com.

Song/Pom and Pep Flag videos can be emailed to Cclendenin@varsity.com.

Note that submission of a routine and/or its elements does not preclude a team from being assessed a penalty while at a specific USA competition, as performances from the video submission may differ from those executed on the competition floor. Submission of a routine does not guarantee that it can be reviewed.

All division limitations can be found in the 2021-2022 USA Spirit Competition Information Packet which you may download above.

The 2021-2022 NFHS Rules Book can be purchased by visiting https://www.usacheer.org/high-school-cheer#_order.

For specific cheerleading stunt and safety questions that pertain to the 2021-2022 NFHS Rules Book, or to the 2021-2022 High School Teams Show Cheer and Group Stunt Division Limitations please call 1-800-88604872 ext. 2039.

For specific song/pom or pep flag/short flag safety questions that only pertain to the USA Song/Pom/Pep Flag Safety Rules, or to the 2021-2022 Song/Pom Division Limitations please call 1-800-886-4872 ext. 2023.

 Music

Note music guidelines are being followed at all USA and Varsity Brands events.  Competition music must be properly licensed and a team must be able to provide a printed copy of proof of licensing during registration at the event they are attending.  This proof will be reviewed at registration. For further details visit www.varsity.com/music.

USA Dance Competitions: Divisions, Rules & Scoring

2021-2022 USA Dance Competition Packet
2021-2022 USA Dance Safety Guidelines, Divisions & Sizing
2021-2022 USA Dance Score Sheets

Music

Note music guidelines are being followed at all USA and Varsity Brands events.  Competition music must be properly licensed and a team must be able to provide a printed copy of proof of licensing during registration at the event they are attending.  This proof will be reviewed at registration. For further details visit www.varsity.com/music.

For Dance Program related questions, please contact:
USACompetitions@varsity.com

To register for USA Dance Competitions or Camps, please contact:
Nicole Cestone
USA State Director
ncestone@varsity.com
949-324-1973

USA Jr. High Competitions: Divisions, Rules & Scoring

2021-2022 USA Jr. Spirit Competition Information Packet 

View our 2021-2022 Jr. Spirit Scoresheets and Scoring Range Documents

Division Limitations

Song/Pom, Song/Jazz, Pep/Short Flag Safety Rules & Glossary

Questions on Tumbling, Stunt and Safety Rules?

Routines at all USA competitions must follow the 2020-2021 NFHS Rules Book, 2021-2022 USA High School Teams Show Cheer and Group Stunt Division Limitations, 2021-2022 USA Song/Pom/Pep Flag Safety Rules and/or  the 2021-2022 USA Song/Pom Division Limitations. To order a copy of the current NFHS Rules book please visit https://www.usacheer.org/high-school-cheer#_order.

Submitting a video is the only way to review a routine for potential safety violations.

For all legality, division limitations, or questions regarding specific performance elements, you may email a video that contains the skill in question.

All emailed videos must include the following:

  1. Name of the School and Division Level in the Subject Line of the email
  2. Videos should be in either Windows Media Player or Quicktime formats
  3. Clear, close up view of skill in question
  4. Do not send the entire routine, only the SKILL(S) in question
  5. Include your name, team name, division level, and phone number in the body of the email

Cheerleading videos can be emailed to Cmoon@varsity.com.

Song/Pom and Pep Flag videos can be emailed to Cclendenin@varsity.com.

Note that submission of a routine and/or its elements does not preclude a team from being assessed a penalty while at a specific USA competition, as performances from the video submission may differ from those executed on the competition floor. Submission of a routine does not guarantee that it can be reviewed.

All division limitations can be found in the 2021-2022 USA Jr. Spirit Competition Information Packet which you may download above.

The 2021-2022 NFHS Rules Book can be purchased by visiting https://www.usacheer.org/high-school-cheer#_order.

For specific cheerleading stunt and safety questions that pertain to the 2020-2021 NFHS Rules Book, or to the 2020-2021  Jr. High School Teams Show Cheer and Group Stunt Division Limitations please call 1-800-88604872 ext. 2039.

For specific song/pom or pep flag/short flag safety questions that only pertain to the USA Song/Pom Safety Rules, or to the 2021-2022 Song/Pom Division Limitations please call 1-800-886-4872 ext. 2023.

 Music

Note music guidelines are being followed at all USA and Varsity Brands events.  Competition music must be properly licensed and a team must be able to provide a printed copy of proof of licensing during registration at the event they are attending.  This proof will be reviewed at registration. For further details visit www.varsity.com/music.

USA Recreation/Youth: Divisions, Rules & Scoring

Music

Note music guidelines are being followed at all USA and Varsity Brands events.  Competition music must be properly licensed and a team must be able to provide a printed copy of proof of licensing during registration at the event they are attending.  This proof will be reviewed at registration. For further details visit www.varsity.com/music.

USA Game Day Competitions: Divisions, Rules & Scoring

View our 2021-2022 USA Spirit Competition Information Packet 

High School & Junior High Game Day

College Game Day