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How a small team can score big at competition


I once coached a squad of only six girls. Yep, six, as in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

We had one stunt group, two tumblers, and a heck of a time trying to put together a competition routine.

But you know what? It wasn’t impossible then, and it’s not impossible now. You don’t have to have a maximum size team to get a maximum size score at a competition.

Check out my five best tips for making the most of your choreography as a small team.

1. Focus on perfecting major skills

With a small team, every person counts and every skill counts. So start by perfecting those major progression skills because that’s the easiest place for flaws to show and where every other skill will build from.

Make sure those are solid before trying anything fancier in your choreography, but don’t be afraid to get creative with them to jazz them up. Just make sure you can hit what you put in there.

2. Creatively use the floor

As a small team, the “utilize the entire cheer mat” suggestion can be incredibly difficult, but it can be done.

Use stunts to move girls from one place to another. Change formations in dances and cheers. Tumble in a variety of angles and locations on the mat.

Those are the best places in your choreography to use the entire floor and make a big visual impact.

3. Don’t forget a pyramid

Last year I judged a competition where a squad had 7 girls, but no pyramid in their routine.

They clearly didn’t read the scoresheets because a pyramid was worth 20 points (about 10% of their total score!).

Even if it’s connecting a prep or extension to a stunt on someone’s shoulders, you have to have one in your choreography. Make it simple, but make it happen or you risk taking a big hit in your score.

4. Focus on a unified look

When you only have a handful of cheerleaders on your team, looking uniform becomes a priority.

It’s hard to get 15 girls to do the exact same motion at the exact same time, but that’s where you can shine. Focus on getting everything looking the same and getting the counts just right so the judges see your choreography and aren’t distracted by mistakes.

5. Build their confidence

When you walk into the warm-up room and there are teams of 15 and 20 practicing, it is super easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated as a competitor.

That’s why it’s important to encourage your team daily as you lead up to a competition.

It’s also crucial that you give them choreography that they can hit and that they love performing. If they are excited and know they can stick it when it counts, then you’re already ahead of the game.


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