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Cheer & Dance Blog

How to Choreograph a Cheer Routine in 5 Steps

June 8, 2018

Is your cheerleading choreography lacking spirit, energy, and excitement? 


Putting together a complete routine from start to finish can be exhausting, time-consuming, and a hassle without proper training and experience. There is a lot of planning that goes into choreographing cheer routines, and you need to make sure the team who is performing the routine is ready for choreography!


Zero Deductions Productions LLC has some helpful tips and hints to have your routines looking flawless this upcoming cheer season!


STEP #1: Know the Rules & Safety Guidelines for Cheer


If you are choreographing a routine for a cheer squad, it's likely that squad's program is regulated by some form of governing cheer, dance, and/or spirit safety organization.



Cheer safety organizations are governing bodies that create and enforce safety guidelines for cheer, dance, and other types of spirit-related activities. If the cheer team is competitive, the competition vendor(s) may provide their own set of safety rules and limitations. Some even offer cheer coach certification platforms and educational resources for safe cheerleading.


The rules that govern cheer are meant to protect the athletes involved by making certain skills "illegal". Safety rules and guidelines are updated on a regular basis, so it is important to obtain the most recent copy of your cheer program's safety rules and regulations.

Examples of organizations that govern cheer safety include:

If you aren't sure which organization dictates the rules for your cheer routine, ask the coach, sponsor, spirit coordinator in charge of the cheerleaders performing the routine. 


Once you have fully read and comprehended the rules that govern your cheer routine, you are ready to start evaluating!


STEP #2: Evaluate Cheerleaders & Program

The next step you are going to want to take when choreographing a cheerleading routine is evaluate the abilities and skills of the cheerleaders performing the routine. 

  • Create an excel spreadsheet or word document to evaluate the skills of each cheerleader based on the sections that will be incorporated into the cheer routine. (tumbling, stunts, jumps, etc.)

  • Schedule a Choreography Evaluation Practice

  • Ask each cheerleader to demonstrate their skills & abilities for each section of the routine.

  • Ensure each cheerleader only demonstrates skills they are confident in executing without the hands-on assistance of a spotter.

  • Identify the skills that the majority of the cheerleaders are able to perform in each section. 

  • Evaluate each cheerleader's ability to perform at least two (2) roles in a stunt group (ex. flyer and front spot, back spot and main base, etc.)

  • Rate each cheerleader's flexibility for body positions and jumps using a type of rating scale, such as "0 to 10" or "1 Star to 5 Stars". 

After conducting a thorough choreography evaluation on each cheerleader, you will need to evaluate program's facilities, practice schedule, performance type, and props.

  • Facility or Practice Area. Determine what type of facilities or practice gym the cheerleaders will be practicing their routine in most often. Does the team have access to cheer mats? How many cheer mats does the program have available? Will the team be practicing on the same type of surface they will be competing on? What restrictions will the practice facility place on your cheer routine and the ability to rehearse it?

  • Practice Schedule. You will need to know what the cheerleader's routine practice schedule will be outside of choreography instruction practices. Will the cheerleaders learn the routine in one practice or over multiple choreography dates? Will there be routine practices in-between choreography? How frequent and how long will the routine be able to be rehearsed for it is performed?

  • Performance Type. It is very important to know if the routine will be performed in a showcase format in or in the context of competition. If the routine will be performed in a competition setting, you will need to know which competition(s), and research the specific safety & scoring guidelines for each one. 

  • Props. A cheer routine isn't complete without the use of megaphones, poms, signs, and other props! Find out what the cheer program's spirit inventory looks like, and write down a list of the props that will have available to your cheerleaders and their routine.


STEP #3: Make a Plan


If you have fully completed steps one and two, then most of the work is already done for you! Now it's time to plan it out.


When you're in front of the cheerleaders and teaching the choreographed routine, time is valuable. Planning ahead and working through potential problems that could arise with while you're actually teaching the routine can keep you on track and avoid delays in delivering a complete routine.


So let's start planning your routine. Follow these simple steps to create a general outline of your cheer routine:

  • Order the sections of your cheer routine from start to finish.

  • Decide which skills will be performed in each section & which cheerleaders will perform those skills.

  • Draw your potential formations for each section out on paper! Use our Cheer Formation Sheets PDF to create organized cheer formations on paper.

  • Look for potential problems that could arise with transitions and routine flow. Come up with alternative solutions for sections you're unsure about.


STEP #4: Cheer like no one is watching!


Now that you know the cheer safety rules, have established the order of your routine and the skills being performed, you are ready to start coming up with some of the motions, moves, and other choreography required to make your routine complete. 


First, determine the potential sections where choreography may be needed. This can be during transitions, stunt sequences, pyramids, dance sections, and more! There is no limit.


Next, use your artistic and dancing abilities to start creating short choreography sequences (4 to 8 counts each) that feel natural and look appropriate for the age group that will be learning your material. If the cheer team or program has any signature motions, moves, or choreography, try and incorporate them to create a unique style for your routine!


The best place to do this is right in front of your mirror at home! If you have a laptop, or other video recording device, set it up in the corner and record your creativity sessions. Save clips of the motion sequences you plan to teach your cheerleaders for their routine. This makes it easier to reference back to in case you forget!


STEP #5: Choreograph Cheer Routines with Confidence!


Becoming a confident choreographer takes time, experience, training, and proper planning. 

It takes a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, energy, and organization to turn an idea on paper into an athletic and theatrical performance.


Collecting the necessary information up front can make it very easy to choreograph a simple, clean, and fun routine!


Choreographing a cheer routine for the first time? Here are some points of advice for aspiring or first-time cheer choreographers:

Don't be a coach. There is a common misconception in the cheerleading industry that choreography includes coaching cheerleaders on skills like stunting, tumbling, and basket tosses. Although cheer choreography can include teaching new tricks and ideas, choreographers teach these innovative skills based on the team's current athletic abilities and experience. Ensuring that the cheerleaders maintain their skills, tricks, and movements before and after they are taught the routine is the job of the cheer coach and the cheerleaders themselves. 

Break it up. Don't try to choreograph the entire routine in one sitting. If you can, break it up over 2 or 3 days and allow extra time for unexpected delays.

State your Rules. When you are directing cheer choreography, the floor is yours. Kids LOVE to ask questions and express their ideas, which is great! However, you are in charge of choreographing the cheerleading routine and have deadlines to meet. When it comes to teaching choreography to kids, it's important to state your structure and rules while directing the routine before you get started This sets a standard that allows you, as the choreographer, to be in control while still having fun with the kids along the way.

Fill Out an 8-Count Sheet. If you are choreographing a routine, you should be able to fill out a basic 8-count sheet. If you want to know how to properly fill out an 8-count sheet, check out the our Blog Page for the featured article on how to fill out an 8-count sheet correctly.


If you are looking for an experienced, affordable, and innovative cheer choreographer, Zero Deductions Productions LLC has you covered with some of the best cheer and dance choreographers around!


We have packages that include a custom cheer mix, USA Cheer/USASF/ Varsity compliant license, and choreography for an affordable price! Learn more here.


Is cheerleading choreography lacking spirit, energy, and excitement? 


Putting together a complete routine from start to finish can be exhausting, time-consuming, and a hassle without proper training. There is a lot of planning that goes into choreographing routines, and you need to make sure the team who is performing the routine is ready for choreography!


Zero Deductions Productions LLC has some helpful tips and hints to have your routines looking flawless this upcoming cheer season!



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