How Long Is A Cheerleading Routine?

How Long Is A Cheerleading Routine

Many types of sports, particularly in high school settings, include cheerleaders to add excitement and entertainment to their games. Still, many people don’t know that cheerleading is a competitive sport of its own. Cheerleaders go through intense training and practice to perfect the routines they perform during games, and teams often compete against each other at cheerleading events to see whose routine is best. But how long is the average cheerleading routine, and what other time limits exist in the sport? Here, we look at the various rules which govern cheerleading and its timing.

Cheerleading Routine Basics

While it was not recognized as an official sport for many years, cheerleading has grown tremendously in recent decades. It now stands as a sport of its own, with several rules, terms, and techniques that make it unique and challenging in ways comparable to all other sports. Cheerleading events consist of what are known as “routines,” and include meticulously choreographed performances put on by the cheerleading squad as a means of boosting morale and excitement for the team they represent. These short routines often take place during breaks in a sporting event, such as the halftime interval of a football game. They involve movements of varying complexity, such as lifts, tumbles, and other dance-like maneuvers. Cheerleading routines are often set to music and accompanied by chants supporting the team or school being represented.

There are several basic and advanced motions that make up a typical cheerleading routine. Most recognizable is the ready position in which cheerleaders begin their routines, which consists of standing with the feet at shoulder width and the fists resting above the hips with the elbows straight out to the sides. Other well-known motions include the handclasp, the V Motion, the L Motion, and the Right and Left K. More advanced moves include tumbles and lifts, often performed by multiple cheerleaders working together.   

Competitive Cheerleading

While squads of cheerleaders most often perform their routines for the schools and teams they represent, many also enter cheerleading competitions, where they pit their routines against other cheerleading squads to see whose is best. Cheerleading competitions can take place between squads that represent certain schools, and also between cheerleading squads who do not represent any team but exist solely to perform cheerleading routines competitively. Cheerleading squads enter into competitions based upon age and skill level, and there are six rankings for proficiency in competitive cheerleading, from 1-6, with 1 being the least advanced and 6 being the most advanced.

At a cheerleading competition, also referred to as a cheer meet, cheerleading squads perform their routines in front of a panel of judges, all of whom are experts at cheerleading and are either former cheerleaders, cheerleading coaches, or both. The judges evaluate each cheerleading routine based upon qualities such as difficulty, execution, and time. Various scoring rubrics are used to judge the quality of each routine, with points and requirements varying for each skill level. Aspects considered include stunt difficulty, stunt quality, pyramid difficulty, toss difficulty, tumbling and jump difficulty, dance, and overall routine composition, among others. Judges will also consider their overall impressions of the routine, and elements such as visual effects and music.

Minimum and Maximum Times

One of the central elements of cheerleading competitions is the time limits upon competitive cheerleading routines. The vast majority of cheerleading competitions impose very specific time guidelines upon competing squads. In general, competitive cheerleading routines are required not to exceed two minutes and 30 seconds in length. Many competitions also have a minimum time requirement, which is often two minutes. The vast majority of cheerleading routines will fall within this window of two minutes to two minutes and 30 seconds, and teams can be penalized in various ways for falling under or going over the time limit of a competition. Some cheerleading competitions also impose time limits upon other aspects of the routine, such as by requiring that each routine contain a musical segment that is at least 45 seconds long. 


How long is a cheerleading meet?

Cheerleading meets and competitions are often full-day or multi-day events, depending upon their location, the number of cheerleading squads competing, and the size of the region involved. Local cheerleading competitions often include only squads from a certain area, such as a town, city, or state, and these competitions will likely be shorter, lasting either a few hours or one day, depending upon the number of squads competing. Larger cheerleading competitions, such as national events, are often two days or longer in length and often require travel.

Is there a time limit for cheerleading routines?

The majority of competitive cheerleading routines do require certain time limits. These time limits are dependent upon the rules of the competition, but the standard time limit for cheerleading routines is two minutes and 30 seconds. For cheerleading routines that are not competitive and take place during sporting events, there are no time limits, but routines are often similar in length to competitive routines, as they take many weeks to practice.

Is there a time minimum for cheerleading routines?

Many cheerleading competitions require that cheerleading routines meet a minimum length to participate in the competition. Most competitions require that cheerleading routines be a minimum of two minutes long, but this can vary from competition to competition.