Frequently Asked Questions

Coaching & Certifications

Why Coach?

Coaching can be a very fulfilling experience and can provide a positive experience for your athletes and yourself. As a coach you have the ability to have a significant positive impact on your athletes and to contribute to your community. You will have many different roles for different people; teacher, leader, role model, mentor, friend and organizer.

What is the ACA Coaching' Certification Program?

First initiated in 2001 and implemented in 2003, the program has grown to an exceptional training program for cheer & pom coaches. With a strong focus and emphasis on safety and proper skill progressions, coaches learn how to start a cheer program, to set goals with and for their teams, how to coach different types of learners and how to incorporate varying teaching styles to meet each athletes needs. The program also includes step-by-step skill breakdowns and skill demonstrations. Coaches are required to complete a written and practical skills test. To date there are 4 certification levels; Cheer Levels 1, 2 & 3 and Pom & Dance.

Why am I no longer eligible to get coaching credentials through the USASF?

As of January 2016, the USASF has limited their coaching certification program the all star coaches within the United States. Cheer Canada is currently working in connection with the ICU and IASF to develop a new coaching certification for all star coaches that will be implemented across Canada and internationally.

How do All Star coaches certify now that the USASF certification is not available in Canada?

All Star coaches are welcome to take the ACA Coaching Certification as the new national All Star certification program is being developed. To know more about which levels to certify at for All Star coaches, please contact

How do I become a certified cheer or dance coach?

The Alberta Cheerleading Association offers certifications in various locations across the province throughout the year, primarily in the Fall and Spring. Please visit the 'Upcoming Certifications' page for prospective training opportunities, requirements and registration information.

How old do I have to be to become a coach?

The ACA requires that you must be 16 years of age by the certification course/testing date.

What credentials do I have to hold to be a coach?

All supervising/instructing coaches are required to certify up to the level in which they are coaching. Required credentials are dependent on the level and type of team that you plan to coach. Please review the list(s) of required qualifications here. For the safety of the athletes and the sport, all coaches MUST hold the correct certification levels for the skills that they are teaching and obtain these certifications before instructing skills to athletes.

How long is my certificate valid for?

Coaching certifications are valid for three years from the date of completion. If you attend a course but fail to submit all necessary documentation, you will not be classed as certified. Once all documentation has been received by the ACA, your certificate will be issued from the date of the practical session and will expire three years after this date.

What skills will I learn and be certified to coach?

The ACA Coaching certification program strives to teach a variety of foundational cheerleading elements including stunting, tumbling and jumping skills at each coaching level. The course also includes a wide range of coaching skills such as how to build a program and tips on how to effectively communicate with athletes. A complete list of the skill covered at each level can be found at the bottom of the coaching certification page.

When and how can I move up to the next certification level?

  • All School cheerleading coaches are required to take the ACA Level 1 Certification program.
  • Once you have your ACA Level 2 certification, you must accumulate 100 hours at Level 2 to qualify to take your ACA Level 3 certification and submit a signed experience validation form.
  • In order to verify that you have safely achieved these coaching milestones you will be required to have your teacher advisor, athletic director or a school administrator sign an experience validation form which is submitted to the certification instructor.
  • Coaches are able to challenge the Level 1 Certification to move on to the Level 2 Certfication course at the discretion of ACA Staff/Facilitators, though it is not recommended.
  • Coaches are only able to challenge their Level 2 Certification if they have held a ICU/USASF Coaching Certfication of Level 3 or higher.

How will I know if I passed my certification?

Once you have submitted all of the required documents (proof of valid First Aid/CPR, Respect in Sport, Fundamentals of Coaching, written exam, practical exam and where applicable, Experience Validation Form) you will be informed of your coaching status via email from the ACA Event Coordinator (within 4 weeks of submission/completion of the course). If you have passed, the technical coordinator will email you a certificate of completion for your records. If you are required to re-write your exam, you will be given instructions on how to do so and will be required to pay a $15 re-write fee.

Where can I coach?

The ACA often receives requests for coaches and will advertise coaching opportunities as they arise on the "Coaches Wanted" page of the ACA website. Be sure to check there often, especially in the fall and spring.

It is important to know that there are numerous opportunities available to coach in Alberta in both the city centres and rural communities. Many schools (Elementary - High School & Post Secondary) currently have cheer teams and are often looking for new or more cheer or pom coaches. If the school you are interested in does not have a cheer or pom team, please contact them directly to see if they are interested in starting a program. The ACA is happy to provide guidance and assistance to coaches and school administrators in getting a program started. For more information or support please contact

In addition to coaching at schools, there are also a number of all-star programs in the province who also often need more coaches for various ages groups and ability levels. You can view a list of all-star programs and links to their websites by visiting the "Find a Team" page on the ACA site. Please contact the clubs directly for more information on coaching opportunities and any additional requirements that they may have.

What is the policy for coaches in warm up areas?

Competition Policy for ACA Sanctioned Events (effective January 1, 2018) 1) ALL teams competing at ACA sanctioned events must have at least one coach credentialed up to the level that their team is competing in.

2) ALL coaches must have valid credentials in order to enter the athlete and warm up areas. Coaches in Training (CIT) will be permitted into warm up areas without valid credentials but may not be left alone with the team for warm and practice times.

3) Coach(es) in Training must be listed as a coach of the performing team, must be a coach in good standing at the gym/school he/she is representing.

Teams that do not have coach(es) certified (to the level) with them in the warm up area will not be permitted to compete.

Note: Only credentialed coaches, coaches in training (CIT), gym owners and teacher advisors will be permitted with their team in the athlete & warm up areas.

Note: Out of province teams must submit valid credentials in order to enter the athlete & warm up areas.

Where can I find the Scholastic, Performance Cheer & Game Day score sheets and deduction sheets for the 2019/20 season? What changes are there from last season?

Cheer Canada has released the Scholastic, Performance & Game Day score sheets and deduction sheets for this season. Note that the only change for Scholastic is in the variety of drivers available for judges to use within execution scores (except for the Obvious Mistake driver). Judges may now choose –0.2, -0.4 or –0.6.

Scholastic & Game Day:

Performance Cheer:

Please note that these documents may continue to be updated throughout the season.

What Scholastic and Performance Cheer divisions are being offered by the ACA this season?

Scholastic and Performance Cheer divisions being offered by Cheer Canada are listed here:

Please note that the ACA is not offering the median level for senior high nor the all gender non-tumbling advanced level for senior high. Game day will be offered.

Is there a minimum time requirement for the Scholastic cheer portion of the routine this season?

For primary, elementary, junior high and senior high teams there is no minimum time for the cheer portion however it is important to consider if your cheer is an adequate length in order to satisfactorily meet all the criteria on the score sheet. If your cheer is shorter, you may score poorly in areas such as Crowd Lead and Effective Material for example.

Post-secondary teams must have a cheer portion that is at least 30 seconds long.

How long can my Scholastic routine be this season?

Primary, elementary, junior high and senior high routines have a maximum of 1:30 of music. The total routine length may not exceed 2:30. This includes the cheer portion and transitional time between the cheer and music portions.

Post-secondary routines may include up to 2:30 of music. The cheer portion must be at least 30 seconds long and teams are allowed up to 20 seconds between the cheer portion and the music section of their routine. This means the total run time cannot exceed 3:20. Please note that the cheer must be either at the beginning or in the middle of the routine.

Membership & Insurance 


  • All Alberta cheer and dance programs competing or performing at ACA sanctioned events.
  • All Alberta cheer or dance programs wishing to have staff, coaches and athletes participate in ACA training and certification opportunities such as ACA Coaching Certifications, conferences, clinics, etc.
  • Teams from outside of Alberta who wish to compete at ACA events are not required to purchase an ACA membership, but must provide evidence of insurance and evidence that they are registration with their Provincial Cheerleading Association.


ACA membership fees are collected to help the ACA pay for services provided such as developing and administering coaching development and certification programs, judging certification programs, and other initiatives to develop the sport within the objectives of the ACA.


  • $5.00 per All-Star Athlete, Scholastic Athlete, and Coach
  • $50.00 per school and club
  • $50.00 per Individual Associate Member
  • $100.00 per Business Associate Member
  • $500.00 per Industry Member

Membership is due by November 15th of each year.
All registrations received after this date will include a late fee.


Your membership provides your program with the following:

  • 1 year membership (November 15th to November 14th)
  • The opportunity to be judged at ACA-sanctioned events
  • Participation & possibly a vote at the Annual General Meeting
  • Access to training opportunities for your coaches and athletes such as certifications, conferences and clinics
  • Access to the group insurance program
  • Online communications and updates


The questions pertaining to athletes (gender, age, grade, town, etc.) are for ACA, provincial and national general informational purposes only. The ACA is using this information strictly for statistical purposes only (e.g. statistics for completing grant applications, referring to statistics in news stories). The information regarding specific athletes is strictly confidential.


If your school/club does not have its own insurance coverage, the ACA offers this service at a cost of $17.25 per person. The current insurance policy will end on November 14 each year with the following annual coverage beginning on November 15.