The Do’s and Don’ts of the 8-Count Sheet14 min to read

Do and Donts of 8 count sheet ipp blog yhz 2100x_

By Steve Pawlyk

Published July 8, 2019


Someone out there needs to hear this…

your 8-count sheets are a mess

There I said it!  Don’t be mad. I’m just playing with you!  I know that filling out an 8-count sheet can be confusing and tedious at times.  Who wants to sit there and fill in each of those little boxes count by count – line by line.  It can make you pull your hair out. I know that’s why so many coaches fly through it just to get it done.  I’m right there with you. I have been guilty of this at times too. However, it can be problematic since the 8-count sheet can be a critical part of your music creation.  Most of the time it’s all your producer has at their disposal. Therefore, if your 8-count sheet is unclear or confusing then your music producer may not be able to execute that perfect mix that you envision.  Let me help you to solve this problem by providing examples of the do’s and don’ts of the 8-count sheet.

YHZ 8count 1

So why is this important?


Plain and simple, having the perfect 8-count sheet will reduce any aggravation on the part of you and your producer.  Your mix is the heartbeat of your routine. The perfect mix can help to bring your routine to life and pump up your team.  When you submit your count sheet at the beginning of the season you envision receiving a mix so perfect that the crowd wants to know all the lyrics and wants to sing along at competition like they do for Cheer Extreme Senior Elite and Top Gun.  Having the crowd support can help to lift your team up to the next level during their performance. You want your sound effects to be big and expressive, your beats to hit hard and the lyrics to be perfect! Trust me, your producer wants this for you as well.

Hopefully, I still have your attention. Now let’s dive in and see how both you and your producer can collaborate to create the most magnificent piece of routine music that you’ve ever heard!


Use the recommended count sheet that your producer prefers.   Most production companies create and only like to work off of their own count sheet as they know it well.


Please don’t make up your own count sheet.  I’ve seen this time and time again. Some coaches have submitted pictures of their routine sketched out on a napkin with hand drawn rows and columns

IPP count sheet on Napkin


Record your routine to an 8-count track.  You will want to have an accurate reference when filling out your 8-count sheet. Using an app like Simple8 by IPP is great way to record and save your videos!


Avoid trying to fill out your 8-count sheet by memory or in real-time (while watching your team practice).  This will lead to an error 100% of the time.



Make sure to include to the intro line when filling out your 8-count sheet.

Your producer’s count sheet should always start on 1.1 as the introduction line.  You will typically see that some producers will black out counts 1-4 (to start on 1.5) as a reminder that this is, in fact, is your opening 5,6,7 & 8


Regardless, if the first 8-count has any indication whether or not you should always start your first action on 2.1

Good count sheet example__2 1_2

For example, if your first section is standing tumbling then your section label would be placed on 2.1 and your actions would start somewhere on this line.  The reason for this is that your producer’s mixing software starts on 1.1 (with 1.5 being your usually 5,6,7 &8 intro). Therefore, 2.1 is the first line where he/she can start your mix.

Reaper Clock sm

Basically, what you consider the first 8-count of your mix is the second 8-count to your producer.

daw clock

Basically, what you consider the first 8-count of your mix is the second 8-count to your producer.


Avoid skipping the intro line.  This will cause your entire mix to be off by one full 8-count leading to an edit (i.e., Reconstruction ) to be made necessary.  This may be time consuming and costly.


Note your sections on either the left/right side of the count sheet. This allows your producers to quickly understand the flow of your routine and helps to map out ideas.


Make sure not to leave your sections blank. This can cause unnecessary guess work on the part of your producer and the mix can start to lose it’s cohesiveness.


Include your song choices on either side of the count sheet, at the bottom in the notes, on the cover page of the count sheet (where applicable) or in an email (noting which song goes with which section of the routine).


Never leave your mix without song selections. Producers generally dislike picking songs. It can be a long process trying to find songs that they think you might like in your mix.  This leaves less time for actual mix creations. Additionally, your producer may pick something that you don’t like leading to edit which can incur a fee.


When adding action words (sound effects) to your count sheet be sure to be clear and concise.  Try to use one or two words per box to describe your actions. For example, scale, twist, double full and etc.  In addition, only use action words that are pertinent to your routine. Remember, sound effects are unique audio samples used to highlight important actions in your routine, therefore, we suggest only including sound effects that help to bring your routine to life.  If you need to add extra information about your routine as a whole or a certain section then you can provide that information at the bottom of the 8-count sheet in the “notes” section.

Good Count Sheet:


Avoid filing each box with phrases or multiple actions. Although you think it may be helpful – it’s not. It can become hard to decipher sometimes.  Also, producers can only add one sound effects per beat in your mix so if you put multiple action words in the box it could make your mix sound like a mess.  Only include the most important action words on your 8-count sheet. Additionally, not every box needs to be filled with minor details or actions such as set, look, hold and etc.  Your producer prefers to see a clean 8-count sheet verses one cluttered with a million words. It will help to expedite the process. Trust me!

Bad Count Sheet:


Make sure that you mix starts and ends at the correct time to avoid edits and/or your mix going over the allotted time requirements. As mentioned before, your mix will need an intro.  Typically, you’ll want to start on 1.1 or 1.5. However, there can be some slight variation (e.g., 1.3 or 1.7). Just as important as making sure that your mix starts on the correct count is that it ends on the correct count.  This will avoid your mix going over time which will eliminate the chance of receiving a time violation penalty at competition. We recommend that your mix ends on the following counts to meet the different mix length time limits: 47.1 for a 2:30 mix, 42.1 for a 2:15 mix, 37.1 for a 2:00 mix and 28.1 for a 1:30 mix.  These recommendations are based on a 146 beats-per-minute (bpm) mix speed.


Please do not go over time! This can be a hassle for both of us. Mixes that end past the recommended stop times will need to be sped up. What typically happens in these cases is that the mix becomes too fast leading to poor execution of skills. However, there are some more advanced teams that can handle this speed increase. Others can’t. Those teams that can’t handle the speed increase will come back with a Reconstruction Request (link out to p&p definition of a reconstruction in the edits section) which will require the removal of a specified amount of 8-counts. An edit of this nature will usually incur a fee – yikes!


Keep your producer’s 8-count sheet as intended.  It has been formatted the way he or she likes. If there are any special instructions then your producer will let you know ahead of time.


Refrain from modifying your producer’s 8-count sheet.  Doing something to the count sheet unannounced may result in a mistake in production.  For example, avoid color-coding your sections. This can be distracting. Just list sections on the side as mentioned above.  The only time highlighting will be necessary is when re-submitting your 8-count sheet for an edit

I know some of this can seem confusing, but it’s really not.  We are here to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions please contact us.  We want to make your music experience as pleasant as possible. Regardless if you use IPP or not, we are willing to assist you at any point in the season.

Cheerleading 8-count sheet

Steve Pawlyk Signature Full