Sunday, April 19, 2020

The More You Know... How does USTA work?

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

A couple weeks ago we introduced a new series to the blog called “The More You Know…”. In this series we will be posting about different NBTA, USTA, or UIL related rules that currently exist, but that not everyone may be familiar with or fully understand. We have reached out to prominent Texas judges in these areas to share the rule or process they wish more people knew about. Our first edition of this series was about using proper NBTA Title Terminology. Make sure to check out that post to learn more!

For the next edition of "The More You Know..." we will learn "How does USTA work?"

Today we are moving into the world of the United States Twirling Association, or the USTA. When this blog originally was introduced, and for our first couple years, we exclusively covered NBTA related Texas events, because that is what we were familiar with. Recently we have been trying to give more attention to our USTA Texas Twirling friends, and the great things they are achieving.

To do this, we reached out to well known and respected USTA Coach and Judge, Lori Lewis Perkins. Lori currently resides in Magnolia, Texas. She has been teaching baton for over 30 years and is the current President of the Texas Twirling Teacher’s Council and a contest director in the Houston Area. In 2019, she was awarded the USTA National Choreography Award. She has trained world medalists, and is a great source of information regarding USTA. We are so happy to have her help in shedding light on this topic!

While twirlers from any organization may learn something from this blog entry, it is aimed at those that currently don’t know about or understand USTA. They have seen that USTA has wonderful twirlers, and they have been interested in checking it out, but are nervous about what they don't know, or scared of those “compulsory things”. Hopefully by this conclusion of this posting, you will be excited about venturing out to an upcoming USTA event!

At USTA Sanctioned Competitions, they offer 5 types of events:

  • Essential Events (For Evaluation Only) – Compulsories, Movement Technique, Short Program
  • Foundation Events: Basic, Military, Presentation, Parade March (Nov., Beg., Int., & Adv. Divisions)
  • Championship Events: Solo, Two Baton, Three Baton, Strut, Artistic Twirl, Duet, Artistic Pairs (Most of these events offer Nov., Beg., Int., & Adv. Divisions, but the Int. division is optional for Three Baton, Duet, and Artistic Pairs).
  • Group Events: Twirl Teams (Novice, A, AA, AAA, and Elite; content restrictions apply), Dance Twirl Teams (Beg., Int. [opt], & Adv.), Trios (Beg., Int. [opt], & Adv.), Parade Corp, Entertainment Corp, Show Teams, and Artistic Group (the last three only offer one level).
  • Collegiate Events: National Collegiate Event, offered at Nationals. Optional for local, state, or regional contests.

Now that we know the TYPES of USTA events, let’s learn how they work and get rid of some of those fears!

1.  You are never required to qualify to compete in a USTA competition for any of the above events.  Anyone may enter local, state, regional, and national competition at your level for the above non-essential events. There has been a lot of incorrect information being spread online recently about the qualification processes for USTA.

2.  Compulsories are never required to enter a USTA competition! We repeat… they are NEVER REQUIRED to compete at a USTA Competition! The only event that relies on compulsory levels is the Freestyle routine for U.S. Trials or Pre-Trials. Someone who has never done a compulsory can still compete at a USTA competition in any other event!

3.  The Competition involving Compulsories and Freestyle is totally separate!  This competition is called the U.S. TRIALS. The U. S. Trials is the selection process for the WBTF World Championships where, to simplify as much as possible, “Four Elite Junior women, Senior Women, Junior Men, & Senior Men must receive a qualifying score to represent Team USA. Additionally, One Junior Pair, One Senior Pair, and One Team can also compete for a qualifying score and Team USA position”. This is a TOUGH competition, and very few athletes ever attain the goal of even competing at this level.

4.  Since #3 is so hard to attain, and USTA believes in providing appropriate training to reach the highest levels, USTA developed the PRE-TRIALS PROGRAM.  The Pre-trials is a separate competition! It offers athletes the opportunity to begin a freestyle routine (similar to an NBTA rhythmic routine) earlier in their development, but with content restrictions. Athletes competing at Level A will only compete in their Region. Once they progress to AA, AAA, or Elite, they have the opportunity to qualify at their region to advance to a National Pre-trials competition, where they compete in compulsories (25% of the score) and freestyle (75% of the score).

5.  USTA uses standardized music for all competitive events.  Timing begins and ends with the music provided. To help make this run smoothly, the USTA uses a set system where each competitor is assigned a lane and a numbered order to perform. This is similar to Twirl Mania, and the process many NBTA contests are using as well. An announcer will call out the names before the music begins.

6. The above listed events are the ONLY sanctioned events offered by USTA.  You may see offered or enter other events at local competitions such as Modeling, Freestyle, Show Twirl, Etc., but those events are Non-sanctioned events and offered at the discretion of the contest directors.

These are just some highlights for you.  A complete rule book with detailed explanation of all events and competitions can be found at Section 5 of the current edition of the rule book is dedicated to compulsories and movement technique and how they can be beneficial to the proper development of all athletes. Compulsories are not something to be afraid of! Their purpose to is to ensure that Elite twirling athletes are being taught the required skills in the correct manner to ensure they properly represent the US on the World Level with uniformity.

Provided here are some important links to more information on local and national USTA Resources:

We hope this has been helpful to you and cleared up any concerns you might have about checking out a USTA contest in the future. Currently all Texas area competitions are on hold due to Coronavirus issues, however, depending on how the summer goes, some events might get rescheduled into late June/July. This blog will make sure to post about any rescheduled events and share registration information when it becomes available. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to Lori Perkins at She will be happy to help you, or put you in touch with someone that can! 

We hope you have all enjoyed this opportunity to learn something new, and a big thank you to Lori for all her help in explaining this subject! Can't wait to see many new faces at the next USTA event!

We hope you have enjoyed this blog post. We are always looking for great new stories about Texas twirlers. Do you have an idea or some information we could use to help highlight our sport? Contact us at and we would love to hear more about it.

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