By Melissa Eannuzzo
Updated February 24, 2020
How to Maximize Your Score Sheet
Ahhhh youth cheerleading…
It’s an exhilarating, inspiring yet scary sport. In the world of Pop Warner cheerleading, ALL of the coaches are volunteers so many are starting with limited knowledge and working their way up. Typically, they coach because their kids are cheering and they want to spend more time with them. For others, like me, we do it because we simply love the sport. My name is Melissa Eannuzzo and I’ve been coaching in the Pop Warner organization (as well as college, All Stars, middle school – you name it) for over 15 years. In this blog series I’ll be talking to various Pop Warner coaches about topics that are near and dear to our hearts.
I’ll be kicking off this series by talking to Kaitlin Eby of the South Pasco Predators. Kaitlin is the perfect coach to start with seeing she’s won 9 regional first place titles, 4 National first place titles, 3 national second place titles, 1 national 3rd place title and so on. Her scores have been the definition of “maxed out”, having scored 95-97 at each competition.
Let’s dive deep into what exactly it takes to “max out” your score sheet.
First thing you need to know is that there is a top half of your score sheet and there is a bottom half. Both are just as important, but also very different. The top half, according to Kaitlin, “is where many teams don’t maximize their scores”. The top half includes choreography, dance and performance. Here are a few rules I always follow when creating a routine:
4 count transitions:
I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Cheerleaders should not have to move any further than they are able to in 4 counts. This ensures that no one is running across the floor and that they can confidently move to each formation.
No more than 2 counts of nothing:
This means that when cheerleaders are walking, stunting, dancing or whatever it may be, there should be movement at least every 2 counts. For example, when moving from their stunt group to jumps, many will walk in clean for an eight count to get there. Instead, add motions every two counts to give the judges more entertainment!
Rules of 3’s:
For each section of the routine (stunts, jumps, tumbling, pyramid & etc.), the judges want to see different pictures being created and unique transitions to get to each picture. By following the rule of 3’s in each section, choreography scores will improve. 3 pictures, and 3 transitions for each section!
Now comes the bottom half of the score sheet. This is broken into difficulty and execution. According to Kaitlin, here’s how to maximize both areas:
Difficulty in the routine:
Instead of having one stunt sequence that includes a 1/4 turn up to prep and a 1/4 turn cradle, look at every stunt and see where those 1/4 turns can be added. If you 1/4 turn up to each stunt and 1/4 turn cradle out of every stunt, you are much more likely to score a perfect 15 than if you only do it once. Another tip to maximize difficulty is by utilizing every member of the team. 9 groups of 3 athletes will always score higher than 5 groups of 5 athletes doing the same skills.
This might be the most important section. Although execution only gives you an extra 1 point in each category, that 1 point is the difference between 1st and 5th place. Execution is what wins National Championships. When coaching, execution comes down to two things: being clean and being consistent. Kaitlin’s tip for all coaches when it comes to cleaning & consistency in a routine is to get your routine taught as soon as possible. The earlier that the cheerleaders know the routine, the more confident they will be. The cleaning and perfecting can’t start until the routine is taught.
Kaitlin Eby provided GREAT tips to help to understand the score sheet and also amazing tools to use as you prepare for the upcoming Pop Warner season. Since Pop Warner is year round now, you can start preparing your teams and your athletes IMMEDIATLEY by utilizing some of these techniques. This will ensure you certainly have an advantage over your competition.
Throughout the Pop Warner season, I would love to talk to as many of you as possible about topics YOU want to learn more about. If you have any suggestions, questions, insight etc. please email me: [email protected].
I wish you and your organization the best of luck this upcoming season!
Melissa Eannuzzo (Pop Warner & Allstar Coach)