Code of Points

Our first article each month will include the news and articles we found interesting from the previous month. News from December 2021:

  • Cheer on Nexflix is returning for season 2 on January 12th. (Yahoo! Sports, and many other outlets)
  • USASF announced both Dana Fielding, Associate Director of Rules and Safety, and Mary Wendt, Director of Dance Education will be departing the USASF. Dana for personal/family reasons and Mary for retirement.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had several conversations that brought up a Code of Points (COP) for scoring cheerleading routines. One was with Shea Crawford, a friend and colleague on the USASF Rules Committee, the Tumbling Director at Brandon All Stars, and one of my go to tumbling experts. We’ve had several COP conversations over the years and almost all of them have included Shea telling me how much better things would be if we had a COP and me telling Shea to write one. I’m not opposed to a COP, but I’m not willing to support one I haven’t seen.

Another conversation was with David Hanbery, another friend, President and Founder of Deep South Spirit, and Chairman of Cheer and Dance Industry Professionals (CDIP). He mentioned a group seriously working on a COP. He did not say how much progress has been made, but seemed confident this group would create a completed COP. A third conversation was with Jason Larkins, once again a friend, Director at American Cheer in California, USASF Connection Leader, and host of the cheer podcast “Let’s Talk Cheer with Jason Larkins”. Jason mentioned a group working on a COP and I believe it is the same group David mentioned. Jason seemed open to the idea of a COP, but not all in yet.

What is a Code of Points? A COP for cheer would be an objective way of determining the difficulty score, making it so 3 of skill X with 5 of skill Y and 7 of skill Z have a predetermined score that anyone with understanding of the COP could calculate. My understanding, which mainly comes from conversations with Shea and Debbie Love, is gymnastics uses a COP and skills are broken into letter categories (A, B, C, D, etc.) and bonus points are awarded for combining skills, so an B skill immediately followed by a D skill gets more points than standalone B and D skills performed in a routine. 

Based on my basic understanding of how the gymnastics COP works, I started thinking of how it would apply to stunts. I haven’t made it very far, but have listed the factors I think of when determining how hard a stunt sequence is: Here are the factors

  • Starting Height – Ground Level, Waist Level, Prep Level, & Extended Level
  • Starting Position – Low (includes Extension, Cupie, Liberty), Middle (includes Stretch, Arabesque), & High (includes Scorpion)
  • Twist – Quarter & Half with additional twisting being considered a combination of quarters and halves
  • Invert – Non Inverted to Inverted & Inverted to Non Inverted with flips being a combination of these
  • Release – Released is the only option that would increase points
  • Ending Height – Same options as starting height
  • Ending Position – Same options as starting position
  • Combination Types – Remains in Air, Shares a Dip, Simultaneous (includes twisting while released)

My current thoughts are this would be based solely on top people, ignoring how many bases are involved. The advantage of using fewer bases would materialize if the form of being able to perform additional skills at the same time. I haven’t made it far enough to put skills in buckets as Shea has suggested because it is important to keep it simple to start. Shea has also suggested skill bonuses being added based on division expectations and requiring coaches to pre submit script sheets on their routine difficulty.

Do you have any thoughts on a Code of Points for cheer?