How Long Is a Cheerleading Routine? Time Limit & Exceptions

by TheCheerBuzz
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In this article, we’ll break down the time limit for competitive cheerleading routines. Strict rules are in place, determining exactly how long a routine can be. 

An Allstar cheerleading routine is typically 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. This applies to teams on different levels, across divisions. However, the routine time limit does vary for some divisions, which we will explain in more detail in this article.

(Note: this is not official information from an event producer, governing body, etc. Rules may vary based on division, event producers, and more. Always look up your specific requirements before competing.)


Cheerleading routine length – differences by division

As we said before, most Allstar cheerleading routines are 2:30 minutes long. If we take a look at the USASF’s (learn more about them here) rules, here’s what it says about time limits:

“Routine performance time may not exceed 2:30. Timing will begin with the first movement, voice, or note of music, whichever comes first. Timing will end with the last movement, last voice, or note of music, whichever comes last.”

But there are also a few exceptions listed:

“Exception: Non-tumbling routines may not exceed 2:00, Global routines may not exceed 3:30 (30-40 seconds for opening Cheer portion, 20 second maximum to move from cheer portion and set up for music portion, and music may not exceed 2:30).”

(Novice and Prep divisions are also listed as exceptions, read more in the USASF rulebook here.)


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Non-Tumbling divisions routine time limit

As the exceptions above point out, the routine time limit for Non-Tumbling cheerleading teams is 2 minutes, instead of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Since the routines don’t require tumbling, a shorter performance time is reasonable. 

Want to learn more about Non-Tumbling teams and their history? Like who the first ever non-tumbling world champions were? Or learn about some benefits of non-tumbling?

Check out this article, explaining all about the popular divisions:

Global divisions routine time limit

The time limit for Global cheerleading teams is 3 minutes and 30 seconds, in total. 

That includes the time for the opening chant, which according to the rules should last 30-40 seconds, plus time to get ready for the routine afterward (20 seconds max). 

The actual routine, however, has the same limit as most divisions – 2:30 minutes.

Watch some incredible Global teams in this video:

Don’t miss Top Gun Allstars – GLOC and their magic themed routine!

What happens if a routine is too long?

The outcome of a routine that’s too long generally depends on the specific competition, but usually results in score deductions or a warning.

Deductions of this type are usually labeled as “Time limit violations” and can reduce a team’s score by a few decimal points, or even whole points. 

As even a tenth of a point can mean the difference between first and second place, this is definitely not a deduction you want to receive. Lesson: track the length of your routine carefully, so you don’t get any unnecessary deductions!

Did you know? Routines last 6 minutes at this competition!

When it comes to routine length limits, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition in the Philippines is probably the biggest exception. Each year, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) organizes a competition between university teams in the country.

The routines at this event last 6 minutes – much longer than the usual 2:30. It’s just as crazy and action-packed as it sounds!

Want to see it for yourself? Watch the multiple-time champions from NU Pep Squad below.

Prepare to be mindblown!

In addition to the routine length, they perform incredible skills and incorporate different themes. Worth a watch (or two)!


There you have it! Hopefully, this article has provided you with a better understanding of cheerleading routine lengths. We have explored the most common time limit, a few fun exceptions, and what can happen if a routine is too long.

Remember: rules are subject to change and can vary based on division, event producers, and more. Always look up your specific requirements before competing!

Cover photo: @cheershotsbytara

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