College Cheer Rules

2016-2017 College Cheer Rules

A. Definitions

  1. Base – A person who is in direct contact with the performing surface and is supporting another person’s weight.
  2. Cradle – Dismount from a stunt/pyramid/toss in which the top person lands in a face-up, semi-piked position.
  3. Cupie/Awesome – A stunt in which both of the top person’s feet are in one hand of the base.
  4. Dive Roll – An aerial forward roll where the feet of the performer are at or above the performer’s waist prior tothe hands making contact with the performing surface.
  5. Flatback – A stunt in which the top person is in a face-up, straight-body position parallel to the performingsurface.
  6. Flip – When a person is airborne while the feet pass over the head.
  7. Height-increasing Apparatus – Any type of equipment that increases the height of a skill.
  8. Helicopter Toss – A stunt in which the top person is tossed into the air with the body parallel to the ground andcompletes a 360 degree horizontal rotation (like the blades of a helicopter.)
  9. Loading Position – Any intermediate position below shoulder level that uses continuous motion to put a topperson in a stunt or pyramid. Examples: Elevator/sponge load, basket load, smoosh, scoop from the back, etc.
  10. Middle – A person who is being supported by a base while also supporting a top person.
  11. Pyramid – A skill in which a top person is being supported by a middle layer person.
  12. Rewind – Skill in which the top person starts with at least one foot on the ground, is tossed into the air andperforms a forward, backward, or side flip into a stunt, pyramid, loading position, or cradle.
  13. Spotter – A person who is responsible for assisting or catching the top person in a partner stunt or pyramid.This person cannot be in a position of providing primary support for a top person but must be in a position to protect the top person coming off of a stunt or pyramid.
  14. Stunt – A skill in which a top person is supported by a base or bases.
  15. Top – A person who is either being supported by another while off of the performing surface or who has beentossed into the air by another person.
  16. Toss – A movement by a participant or group of participants that propels a person into the air so that theperson is airborne (i.e., free of contact with the performing surface).

B. General Program Guidelines

  1. Cheerleading squads should be placed under the direction of a qualified and knowledgeable advisor or coach.
  2. All practice sessions should be supervised by the advisor/coach and held in a location suitable for the activities of cheerleaders (e.g., use of appropriate matting, away from excessive noise and distractions, etc.)
  3. Prior to the performance of any skill, the immediate environment for the activity should be taken into consideration including, but not limited to proximity of non-squad personnel, performance surface, lighting and/or precipitation. Technical skills should not be performed on concrete, asphalt, wet or uneven surfaces or surfaces with obstructions.
  4. Advisors/coaches should recognize the particular ability level of all participants and should limit the squad’s activities accordingly. Participants should not be pressed to perform activities until they are safely prepared.
  5. Skills that have not been mastered should be performed only in a supervised practice environment.
  6. Thorough training in proper spotting techniques should be mandatory for all squads.
  7. All cheerleaders should receive proper training before attempting any form of cheerleading gymnastics (tumbling, partner stunts, pyramids and jumps).
  8. All cheerleading squads should adopt a comprehensive conditioning and strength building program.
  9. An appropriate warm-up exercise should precede all cheerleading activities.
  10. All programs should qualify cheerleaders according to accepted teaching progressions. Appropriate spotting should be used until all performers demonstrate mastery of the skill, and when spotting is required by specific rule.
  11. In environments where there is close proximity to the athletic event and out of bounds plays pose a significant risk of injury to the participant, no technical skills should be performed while the ball is in play.
  12. All partner stunts, pyramids, and tosses should be reviewed and approved by the coach prior to execution.

C. General Restrictions

  1. The use of any height-increasing apparatus (e.g. mini-trampoline, etc.) other than a spring floor is prohibited for performance.
  2. Unless allowed below, the top person in a partner stunt, pyramid or transition cannot be released from bases or leave the floor unassisted with the intent to land or be caught in an inverted body position.
  3. An individual may not jump, flip or dive over, under, or through partner stunts, pyramids or individuals from basket tosses, similar tosses, partner stunts or other tosses from hands.
  4. Drops (knee, seat, thigh, front, back and split) from a jump, stand or inverted position are prohibited unless the majority of the weight is first borne on the hands/feet which breaks the impact of the drop.
  5. Jewelry of any kind is prohibited (e.g., navel jewelry, tongue jewelry, earrings, necklaces, etc.) Medical bracelets are allowed provided they are taped to the body.
  6. Soft-soled athletic shoes must be worn while cheering or competing. Gymnastics shoes, jazz shoes and/or boots are prohibited.

D. Partner Stunts

  1. Dismounts with more than one and one quarter twists require an additional spotter that assists on the cradle.
  2. Released load-ins from a handstand position (stationary or through a handspring load-in) to a partner stunt require an additional spotter.
  3. Stunts in which the top person is in a handstand position require an additional spotter.
  4. Stunts in which the base uses only one arm for support require a spotter when:
    1. The stunt is anything other than a cupie/awesome or basic liberty. All other one-arm stunts require a spotter (e.g., heel stretch, arabesque, high torch, scorpion, bow and arrow, etc.).
    2. There is a released twisting load-in or dismount. The spotter must be in place during the twist and assist on the cradle during twisting dismounts.
    3. The top person is popped from one arm to the other.
  5. A top person can be released from a handstand position on the ground to a hand-to-hand stunt provided the top person does not twist or rotate.
  6. A top person can be released from a cradle position to an inverted position.
  7. Single based split catches are prohibited.
  8. Twisting dismounts greater than two rotations are prohibited. Exception: side facing stunts – i.e. Arabesque, Scorpion, double full twisting cradles to the front are legal.
  9. Front, back and side tension drops are prohibited.
  10. All leg pitch, toe pitch, walk-in, sponge, and straddle catch flips to the performing surface are prohibited.
  11. Flips into or from partner stunts are prohibited, with the following exceptions.
    1. Rewinds into a stunt, loading position, or cradle are allowed under the following conditions:
      1. The top person is limited to one and one quarter rotations and one half twist.
      2. Bases are limited to one quarter turn under the top person.
      3. Bases or spotters may not throw from under the foot of the top person (toe pitch).
      4. An active spotter is required throughout the skill.
      5. If the rewind is continuous to a cradle, the spotter must assist in the cradle.
      6. In a rewind to another base, the original base may serve as the spotter.
    2. Flips from stunts in which the top person is in an upright position standing in the hand(s) of the base(s) are allowed under the following conditions:
      1. An additional spotter must be active throughout the following skills. Exception: An additional spotter is not required for a double base front flip to the performing surface.
      2. The top person is limited to one and one quarter flipping rotations and one half twisting rotations.
      3. Front flips to the performing surface, a cradle, or double based horizontal position are allowed from single or double base shoulder level stunts. Flips to the performing surface require the top person landing on at least one foot with assistance from at least one base.
      4. Back flips to a cradle or horizontal position are allowed from double base shoulder level stunts.
    3. Flips from stunts in which the top person is in a horizontal position not being supported at their feet are allowed under the following conditions:
      1. Front flips and back flips from shoulder level double base stunts to a stunt, loading position, cradle or the performing surface with assistance from a base. Note that flips are not permitted from a horizontal position below shoulder level or from a single base.
      2. The top person is limited to one and one quarter rotation and may not twist.
      3. A spotter is not required.

E. Pyramids

  1. Pyramids higher than 2 ½ body lengths are prohibited. Pyramid height is measured by body lengths as follows: chairs, thigh stands and shoulder straddles are 1 ½ body lengths; shoulder stands are 2 body lengths; extended stunts (i.e. extension, liberty, etc.) are 2 ½ body lengths. Exception: an extended stunt on top of a thigh stand is allowed.
  2. In all pyramids, there must be at least two spotters designated for each person who is above two persons high and whose primary support does not have at least one foot on the ground. Both spotters must be in position as the top person is loading onto the pyramid. One spotter must be behind the top person and the other must be in front of the top person or at the side of the pyramid in a position to get to the top person if they were to dismount forward. Once the pyramid shows adequate stability and just prior to the dismount, this spotter can move to the back to catch the cradle. As pyramid design varies greatly, we recommend a review of any new pyramids where the spotting position may be in question.
  3. In all “2-1-1 thigh stand tower” pyramids, there must be a spotter who is not in contact with the pyramid in place behind the top person. If a bracer is needed to assist the thigh stand middle layer, they do not fill this role and an additional spotter who is not in contact with the pyramid is required.
  4. Cradles and horizontal landings from pyramids over two high must use at least two catchers, one on each side of the top person.
  5. All flips from pyramids are prohibited, with the exception of a forward flip dismount to a cradle, face up horizontal position, or the performing surface. All flip dismounts require two catchers, one on each side of the top person.
  6. Flips into a pyramid are allowed under the following conditions:
    1. The flip is from a handstand on the performing surface, rewind, toe pitch, or a double based “sponge” loading position. (Basket toss flips are not allowed.)
    2. The top person is limited to one and one quarter rotations and may not twist.
    3. Top persons may not land in an inverted position.
    4. A rewind to a pyramid does not require an additional spotter.
  7. Front, back, and side tension drops are prohibited.

F. Tosses

  1. Basket tosses or similar tosses may only be performed from ground level, can use no more than four bases, and must be cradled by three of the original bases, one of which must catch in a scoop under the head and shoulders.

    1. Elevator tosses may flip into pyramids as outlined above.
    2. Basket and elevator/sponge load-ins can land in a stunt or pyramid provided that the toss does not significantly exceed the height of the intended skill.
  2. Basket and elevator/sponge tosses may not be directed so that the bases must move to catch the top person.
  3. Basket and elevator/sponge tosses cannot exceed one flipping and two twisting rotations.
  4. In flipping basket or elevator/sponge tosses (tuck, layout, or pike position) only two additional skills are allowed. One twisting rotation is considered to be one skill.


Legal (two additional skills) Illegal (three additional skills)
Tuck flip, X-out, Full Twist Tuck flip, X-out, Double Full Twist
Double Full-twisting Layout Kick, Double Full-twisting Layout
Kick, Full-twisting Layout Kick, Full-twisting Layout, Kick
Pike-Open, Double Full Twist Pike, Split, Double Full Twist
Arabian Front, Full Twist Full-twisting Layout, Split, Full Twist

Note: An Arabian Front followed by a 1 ½ twist is considered to be a legal skill. A Kick Double Full Twist with no flip is legal.

G. Tumbling 

  1. Tumbling skills performed over, under or through partner stunts, pyramids or individuals are prohibited.
  2. Tumbling skills that exceed one flipping rotation are prohibited.
  3. Tumbling skills with two or more twisting rotations are prohibited.
  4. Dive rolls are prohibited.
  5. Airborne drops to a prone position on the performing surface are illegal. (Examples: A back flip or a jump landing in a pushup position is illegal. A handspring to a pushup position is legal as it is not airborne prior to the prone landing.)