Cheerleading Rules

Select your level for more information!

The NFHS Spirit Rules are produced by the National Federation of State High School Associations, and are written with high school cheerleading in mind. USA Cheer recommends that Elementary, Junior High and Middle School cheerleaders follow the NFHS Spirit Rules with the additional restriction below:

Rule 3.5.10 (USA Cheer Add-on): All tosses other than Switch Ups are prohibited for Elementary, Middle School, and Junior High cheerleading teams. 

NFHS Rules training and other resources can be found in the “High School” section below.

USA Cheer and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have reached an agreement to publish one set of rules for high school cheerleading the 2020-21 season under the NFHS Rule Book. 

Take the 2020-21 NFHS Cheer Rules Course (NEW!)

There are three courses available.

The Comprehensive Course for coaches covers the entire cheer section of the NFHS Rules Book (Rules 1, 2, and 3) including the new rules changes for the current year. This course is ideal for new coaches or coaches who want a refresher course for all rules. Both courses are $15 for non-members, $10 for members.

Comprehensive Course for Coaches  

The “Changes Only” course for coaches covers the major rules changes for the current year. This course is ideal for veteran coaches who are already familiar with the current rules. 

“Rules Changes Only” Course for Coaches

The Rules Interpreters course covers the entire book including the 2020-21 rules changes, with an additional training session on methods and techniques to help interpret rules as well as video testing on rules interpretations.  Rules Interpreters: The first four sections of your course are available now. When the rules change videos are completed, you will be sent information on completing the last portion of the course.

Rules Interpreter Course 

Order the NFHS Rules Book

If you normally receive your NFHS Rules Book through your school or state association, you will still receive your book through the same process. If you are unsure of whether you will receive a book through your association, check with your athletics director. If you would like to purchase a book, you may do so below. The cost through USA Cheer is $10, with free shipping.  

Important: NFHS Rules Books are in the printing process, which is subject to delays due to the COVID-19 crisis. The current ship date is expected to be at least mid-May, which is subject to change. Books will be mailed immediately upon our receipt of them from the NFHS. 




Rule Interpretations

Rule interpretations are the responsibility of each state association or event producer.   USA Cheer provides a video library of rules interpretations below. These videos are reviewed by USA Cheer and by members of the NFHS Spirit Rules committee, but they are not binding in every state. They are provided to help educate coaches and rules interpreters about the rules. Please use your state or event’s rules process to confirm legality. Note that we are currently in the process of updating the videos with the new rules.

USA Cheer Video Rule Interpretations

The 2020-21 USA Cheer College Cheerleading Rules have been published. 

Summary of Changes:

  • Added cast rule. (C.8)
  • Stunts:
    • Require spot only on extended handstand, not at shoulder level. (D.6)
    • Restricts released mounts to 2 ¼ twists. (D.10)
    • Allow an additional ½ twist in flips into and from stunts to allow a full twist. (D.13.a)
    • Allow flips to initiate from cradles or horizontal positions below shoulder level. (D.13.e.1)
    • Restricts flips to the performing surface from twisting. (D.13.e.2)
  • Pyramids
    • Clarify that a required spotter cannot hold under the foot of the middle layer or under the hand of a base in a support role. (E.2.d)
    • Allows only bases or middle layers to bear primary weight. (E.2.h)
    • Allow handstands (from the ground or a stunt) to load to an inversion in a pyramid with no flipping or twisting rotations. (E.4)
    • Restricts released mounts and dismounts to 2 ¼ twists. (E.5)
    • Removed the restriction on basket tosses to load a flip into a pyramid. (E.9)
  • Require inversion releases to be on a mat, grass, or rubberized track surface. (H.1.b)

Rules training courses on the new rules will be made available soon. Video interpretations will be added throughout the year as questions come in. 

Download the 20-21 College Rules

Submit Rules Proposals for 2021-22

All Star rules are developed by the US All Star Federation and can be found here.