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USASF: Legality Violations by Level

The USASF Cheer Rules Team has compiled a list of Legality Violations by level as reported by the USASF Legality Official onsite at USASF Sanctioned Events. This can be a wonderful resource for you to not only see what areas the violations are occurring, but to go back to the rules and review for your own teams/skills routines.

As always, when in doubt about the legality of a skill, members are encouraged to submit a video for review.

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News

Drills=Skills Show 02 – Standing Fulls

On Drills=Skills Show 2 David, Sean, and Shea discuss Standing Fulls.

The show opens with discussing the prerequisites required for a standing full. Then Sean Guzman addresses proper techniques for the standing full. David Petty gives some drills for proper arms and legs and Shea Crawford looks at some troubleshooting methods.

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News

Shea on Back Handsprings

Shea Crawford is the Tumbling Director at Midwest Cheer Elite, which has several locations, originating in Ohio.

The back handspring is such an important skill in cheerleading.  It’s used in standing and running tumbling.  There are multiple variations and connections prior to or following the back handspring throughout levels.  This being said the development of a solid back handspring is crucial.

As a prerequisite I like to see a solid back walkover.  This isn’t always a requirement but especially when dealing with younger athletes the back walkover is a progression for athletes going backwards and inverting to placing body weight on their hands.  This also shows upper back flexibility as well as core strength.  Often times males who start cheerleading late may struggle with the backwalkover so although it’s not a necessary prerequisite to learn a back handspring I still encourage those athletes to work on those skills to help strengthen their back handspring over time.

Sean and David covered many important pieces as well as drills that I use daily! I like to break the back handspring into pieces.  Sit, swing, jump is repeated constantly. Athletic stance is the starting position followed by arms leading the way for the legs to JUMP into handstand shape.  Once in the solid handstand position a solid block will lead athletes to their feet.

Leading with arms before the jump is so important.  Something I hear Debbie Love say often in regards to this is to think about diving into the water, you lead with your hands to protect your head.  This really helps kids understand the importance of a proper arm swing.

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News

NCA All Star Nationals 2017 – Insights into Division Splits

Coaches,

On or before next Tuesday, the Block Schedule and Final Team Listing will be released. Since there have been several questions lately in regards to division splits, I wanted to clarify NCA’s process. Throughout this entire journey, we’ve remained compliant with the USASF mandates, as well as our own internal philosophies and processes. We’ve also tried to be very transparent and go out of our way to communicate with everyone during each stage of the process. Below you’ll find insight into Division Splits.

Registration

The USASF mandates that we offer the standard division listing. For example, that is why the forms you filled out did not allow you to register for a Level 2 Small Junior D2 Division. The only option it gave you was a general, “Level 2 Junior/5-32 members” Division. It did not include Small or Large and it didn’t include D2. Divisions for D2 teams at NCA All-Star Nationals are NOT guaranteed. In some instances, Small/Large splits aren’t either.

Initial Small/Large Splits

USASF mandates that we can split a division (i.e. Level 2 Junior/5-32 members) based on size into Small (5-20 members) and Large (21-32 members) once we have enough registrations in-house to warrant a split. With the size of NCA All-Star Nationals, that was easily achieved in most potential divisions.

Team Listing Emails

During the week of January 22nd, Rachael Alexander sent a personalized email to each program to verify divisions, participant totals and crossovers. On January 26th, I sent out the first Team/Division listing with most Small/Large splits to review. I sent out another updated Team/Division listing on January 30tth.

A/B Splits

Given the prestige and reputation of our event, coupled with our desire to have DEEP divisions at Nationals, we decided to only split divisions with 16 teams or more into A/B or D2. For a division to split into D2, there must be at least 16 teams in a division with at least 5 eligible D2 teams. Once D2 splits are complete, we look at the remaining teams and consider A/B splits.

  • Divisions with at least 16 teams are split into A/B.
  • Divisions with at least 25 teams are split into A/B/C.
  • Divisions with at least 36 teams are split into A/B/C/D.

We use a snapshot of enrollment on the official Split Day of February 1st to make final splits. We do not further split L5 and L6 Worlds divisions, as Worlds Bids are up for grabs and most teams that travel across the world to compete against the best at NCA would be disappointed to find out some of their favorite competition ended up in a “B” division instead of their division.

I know that understanding this side of the sport is complicated and confusing at times. We’ve tried to remain as consistent and transparent as possible in our processes leading up to these splits. For us, it is a challenge to balance NCA’s goal of providing every team a fair chance to be competitive with our mission of retaining NCA All-Star Nationals’ reputation as the most prestigious competition of its kind in the industry.

We know many of you choose NCA for that reason, because people that think NCA is the ultimate – where winning means something because you competed against the best of the best. I’ll be back in touch soon!

Justin Carrier

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USASF Cheer and Dance Member Updates – February 2017

Cheer & Dance Updates

Scholarship Opportunities – USASF Scholarships are available to young athletes to help offset expenses associated with participating with USASF member programs. Share the opportunities with your athletes! Deadline to apply is March 1, 2017

Are These Dates On Your Calendar Yet? – Plan ahead and connect with USASF members at a USASF Regional Convention this summer!

Who Is Going to Worlds ? – Check out the list of talented teams who have qualified for The Cheerleading and Dance World Championship! The list is growing every week!

Is This Legal? – Don’t risk legality points at an event when you could have your skill reviewed before you compete and know if it’s legal or not!

Cheer Updates

Cheer Rules Overview – If you haven’t registered yet, please join us on Thursday, February 2nd at 1pm EST, 12pm CST, 10am PST for a webinar to review the 2017-18 Cheer Rules, Age Grid and Program Definition.

You must register for the webinar, as space is limited.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you have questions after having reviewed the new Cheer Rules documents, you can submit them online prior to the webinar.

Cheer Worlds Cup Race – Check out the standings for the Worlds Cup Race, the newest opportunity for Level 5 and 6 cheer teams to earn their way to The Cheerleading World Championship!

Dance Updates

Submit Your Proposal – Do you have an idea for a Dance Rule Change? Submit your proposal here. Deadline for submission is March 1, 2017.

Category Designation – The Contemporary/Lyrical category is being offered for the second season at USASF Sanctioned Events, and for the FIRST time at The Dance Worlds in 2017. If you have any question as to which category you should register your routine at any USASF Sanctioned Event, and especially if you’re competing for a bid to The Dance World Championship, please submit a form at least one week prior to any sanctioned event. Our evaluation staff will review and advise.

Dance Worlds Junior Video Qualification – Six deserving U.S. teams will be awarded At Large bids to compete in the Jr. Dance Division at The Dance Worlds! If your team wants to apply for qualification, read all the details here. Deadline for submission is March 1, 2017.

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News

Drills=Skills Show 01 – 2017-18 Tumbling Rules

On the first Drills=Skills show, Sean Guzman, David Petty, Shea Crawford & special guest Debbie Love discuss the changes to the tumbling rules which will start in August, 2017.

Highlights:

  • Level 1 – Changes to round off connections
  • Level 2 – No turning after back handsprings
  • Level 3 – Now requires a clear pause or step after punch fronts/aerial skills. The safety is discussed along with how it can help the industry moving forward.
  • The addition of front twisting in restricted 5 now opens the door for more skills and for front and back tumbling to align.

The show closes with discussions of Tiny ages 5-6 and Tiny Exhibition 3-5. Debbie goes into detail about how alternative curriculum directed at younger athletes can positively impact a gym’s bottom line! Tune in next week to hear the show discuss Standing Fulls! Resources:

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Announcements News

USA Cheer Announces U.S. Junior National Team

Eastside Middle School will represent the U.S. in the Inaugural International Cheer Union Junior World Championship

Memphis, Tenn., January 30, 2017 – USA Cheer, the national governing body for cheer in the U.S., has announced that Eastside Middle School from Mt. Washington, Kentucky, will represent the U.S. at the International Cheer Union (ICU) Junior World Championship in the newly developed Junior Elite division, which will take place on April 26, 2017 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida.

The ICU is the international governing body for cheer, and has members from 110 Member Nations. Their World Championship hosts athletes from around the globe. Last year’s World Championship included National Teams from 70 countries in the Elite (ages 14+) and Premier divisions (ages 15+). This year, the ICU has added Junior divisions for athletes aged 12-16.

The Eastside Middle School cheerleading team is coached by Carrie DeBold and Kristal Stillwell, who will also coach the team in preparation for the ICU World Championship. Currently, the team is focused on preparations for the National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC). Eastside Middle School took first place in 2016 in the Small Junior High division, and was the Kentucky State Middle School Champions from 2013 to 2017.

“It’s exciting that the ICU is now including junior division in the World Championship. Engaging these younger cheer athletes helps build a solid foundation for future teams,” says Tony Nash, Director of USA Cheer, and Head Coach of the US National All Girl Team. “Eastside Middle School has a track record of success in Kentucky and at the National level. Carrie and Kristal have built a talented team that supports their school and stand as an example for other communities.”

“I am very honored and humbled that my program was selected to represent the U.S. at the ICU World Championship, said Carrie. “We are excited and ready for the challenge to take cheerleading to the next level on the world stage!”

For more information about USA Cheer, please contact Sheila Noone, [email protected]

About USA Cheer

The USA Federation for Sport Cheering is a not-for-profit national governing body for all disciplines of cheerleading (including Traditional Cheerleading, STUNT, and Club Cheer/All Star). USA Cheer has three primary objectives: promote safety and safety education for Cheer in the United States; help grow and develop interest and participation in Cheer throughout the United States; and represent the United States of America in international Cheer competitions.

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In Review News

In Review – January 2017

January kicked off a new year with a new President. Here’s the cheerleading news we found interesting.

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News

Sean on Back Handsprings

Sean Guzman is a Team Coach and Tumbling Coach at Top Gun in Florida.

Being one of the most basic fundamental tumbling movements, back handsprings are also one of the most difficult skills to master. Flexibility, strength, precision, timing, are all some of the key factors when performing a back handspring. Lack of shoulder flexibility and mobility, weak core, along with a lack of proper understanding of each position all make up some of the issues seen on many of our athletes while performing a back handspring. Knowing that this skill is crucial in the progression of an athlete, our attention as tumbling coaches should be to help athletes understand the importance of perfection before progression.

Athletes in our sport for many years have been plagued with issues such as, “head being out”, low back pain, and a lack of “power” when throwing a back handspring improperly. By making sure our athletes are being programmed from the start, to have both physical capability, and a strong understanding of each position, we avoid many issues in the future. We are also giving the athlete the best possible tools for their tumbling career. Back handsprings are one of the most basic skills our athletes perform, however they are technically one of the most difficult to master.

In competitive cheerleading, we see a trend in athletes progressing through this beginning stage very quickly achieving their goal of throwing the back handspring within weeks, not realizing the amount of technical issues they have. As time goes on, and skills get more difficult, those technical issues from the back handspring carry over causing the athlete to become stagnant in the higher levels. Pacing the athlete, and spending time on flexibility, strength, and speed will ensure safety and technical understanding of the skill for the athlete. The basis of a good back handspring, is a good foundation in all aspects of athleticism.

When dealing with an athlete who is ready to start learning a back handspring, breaking down the body positions of each part before focusing on the movement patterns. In my experience, reinforcing of positions before movement patterns allows the athlete to better understand the timing within the skill. Handstands, open shoulder handstand to vertical handstand and using boulders, to to stop in each position, and to also allow the athlete to move through the skill safely. Handstand snap downs blocking drills are all time tested drills and movements.

Starting slow, on an apparatus such as a trampoline aids in the explosive movement of the jump, allowing the athlete to really focus on the timing. Once the timing is consistent, the athlete can be progressed to more difficult surfaces forcing the athlete to use its conditioned muscles to speed up the timing of the movements allowing for a more powerful skills which will be necessary on the harder surfaces.

Good Luck to all you athletes and coaches and remember to stay safe!

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News

Junior Dance Worlds

Six deserving U.S. teams will be awarded At Large bids to compete in the Jr. Dance Division at The Dance Worlds! If your team wants to apply for qualification, read all the details here.

Deadline for submission is March 10, 2017.

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News

USASF Scholarship Opportunities

USASF Scholarships are available to college bound seniors and to young athletes to help offset expenses associated with participating with USASF member programs. Share the opportunities with your athletes!

There are 2 types of scholarships, College Scholarships (open to college bound seniors) and Young Athlete Scholarships (open to athlete members). The first deadline for the College Scholarship is tomorrow, February 1, 2017.

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News

2017-18 USASF Cheer Rules, Age Grid, & Program Definition

The USASF released the Cheer Rules and Age Grid for the 2017-2018 season, along the updated Program Definition. The rules, age grid, and program definition will be effective August 1, 2017.

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David on Back Handsprings

David Petty is the Tumbling Director at Cheer Extreme Raleigh in North Carolina.

Favorite drills and progressions

I like to use simple “jump back” drills. Using a small sit with an exploding jump back onto an elevated mat, or mats.

For a strong arm swing, there are numerous drills for this. You can use a weighted medicine ball, or one of my favorites is to place a wedge against a wall, have your kid sit against it with their hips and shoulders in line, palms on the ground by the hips, and then swing 10 times in a row from the ground to hitting the wedge with arms by the ears against the wedge.

How do you teach your athlete the difference between good/bad arm swing?

There are so many approaches coaches will use when teaching this skill. Arms up. Arms in front. Arms by the side. My personal opinion is that I will sometimes use all of these when teaching, (completely based off of the need of the athlete), but my favorite is the arms by the side. In a routine, you will never see an athlete, or should never see an athlete start with arms above head, or in front of their chest. I like to teach the method of “Do More with Less!”

If your athlete is starting with arms up, or in front of them, they often will have to swing down, just to swing back up. Like I said, there are uses for all starting positions, but if I’m starting to teach an athlete this skill, I try to start with arms down so that they can fill the arm swing.

Drills to fix bad legs during a back handspring?

One of the best drills that I’ve started using, is one that Shea Crawford taught me just by starting with your feet apart, and then teaching how to engage the proper leg muscles to squeeze the feet together at the top of the skill. There are many more that work, but this one has been my “go to” for about a year now.

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News

UCA & UDA College Nationals 2017

UCA and UDA College Nationals were held January 13-15  at Walt Disney World. Full coverage can be found on Varsity TV.

Cheer Champions

  • Division IA Coed – University of Kentucky
  • Division IA All Girl – Indiana University
  • Division I Coed – Morehead State University
  • Division I All Girl – University of West Georgia
  • Division I Small Coed – University of Memphis
  • Division II Coed – University of West Georgia
  • Division II Small Coed – Wilmington University
  • Open Coed – Shelton State Community College
  • Open All Girl – Nassau Community College

Dance Champions

  • Division IA Hip Hop – University of Cincinnati
  • Division IA Jazz – University of Minnesota
  • Division IA Pom – University of Minnesota
  • Division I Hip Hop – Northern Arizona University
  • Division I Jazz – Cal State Fullerton
  • Division I Pom – Hofstra University
  • Open Hip Hop – University of Saint Thomas
  • Open Jazz – Lindenwood University
  • Open Pom – Orange Coast College

Partner Stunt & Mascot Champions

  • Partner Stunt “Girls 4” – Sam Houston State University (Drew, Danielle, Brenna & Chelsea)
  • Partner Stunt Coed – Morehead State University (Jessie & Nick)
  • Mascot Division IA – University of Minnesota “Goldy Golpher”
  • Mascot Open – University of Delaware “YoUDee”
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News

Sean on Standing Fulls

Sean Guzman is a Team Coach and Tumbling Coach at Top Gun in Florida.

Standing fulls have always been a trickier skill for the average cheerleader to master. Even some of the most elite athletes in our sport have some sort of technical issue prohibiting them from having that picture perfect standing full. Lack of arm swing, weak hamstring and glutes, insufficient knowledge of body shape, and missed timed movement patterns, are just a few of the factors we see. Since many of these factors are issues seen in standing tuck, always remember to progress an athlete when ready and shows mastery of these elements in the more basic skills.

An athlete should always be conditioned enough to perform these skills. Conditioning assures the athlete and the coach, that the athlete is capable of performing the required movements. Standing fulls require fast arms, strong core, and explosive hamstrings. Wrist weights help tremendously for shoulder strength and speed. Arms are the leader in almost all our skills, so working the shoulders is crucial. There are a number of exercises that can be done with those wrist weights. Front raises, lateral raises, small arm circles, find what works for your athlete. For hamstring work, I like to use box jumps and I modify them with a quarter jump on, along with repetitive broad jumps and some other movements. Core work is of utmost importance. Hanging knee raises along with side v-ups and Russian twists, are my go-to workouts to target the obliques for all twisting skills.

Drills along with how the skill is taught can vary. There are 100’s of different ways to teach a standing full. I have always been a big advocate of the standing Arabian/front half approach. The standing Arabian being the first half of the standing full, and at the peak of the skill, it becomes a front half. Breaking down the standing full in this manner, allows for proper timing and air awareness. When you break down a single twist, it’s 4 quarters, when you break down a single flip, it is also 4 quarter, remembering that, allows you to breakdown the timing a lot more efficiently. The standing Arabian is a difficult skill to master, so do not rush this portion. Proper conditioning will always move the process along.