Anyone can count to eight, but it turns out that there are plenty of reasons to leave the task to a dedicated 8-count track. An 8-count track is a piece of music that actually counts to eight over and over for two minutes, 30 seconds, or whatever your competition routine time span happens to be.
These mixes are generally composed of 45-47 8-counts and recorded at 145 beats per minute (BPM). You can speed up or slow down the track as needed, depending on the music you’ve chosen.
Most all-star teams use an 8-count track at practice. Over the last few years, 8-count tracks have become more elaborate, and they sometimes feature additional vocals throughout to showcase what each music producer is capable of. You can find several free 8-count tracks on YouTube and SoundCloud that you can stream during practices. You can even download the Sounds Like That 8-count track here. As you can hear, Sounds Like That has incorporated vocals and sound effects to add hype to the track while keeping a sustained 8-count so your team doesn’t miss a beat.
Here are three benefits to using an 8-count track at practice.
1. It's easier to hear
First, it saves the coach’s voice from having to repeatedly shout out numbers, which can be rough on the vocal cords. Instead of counting to eight, the coach can be encouraging the team or making corrections as she spots them. Plus, at some practices, there could be several other teams practicing in the same space, creating a noisy environment and making it difficult for the coach to be heard over the racket.
2. It prepares you for competition
Using an 8-count track gets the team used to practicing at the tempo of cheer competition music and moving in unison to a steady beat. Because each individual might count at a different pace, it’s helpful to have an unbiased metronome on deck. Coaches tend to slow their counting on sections where the team is struggling, which can have disastrous results when translated to competition performance. During competition, when the team has to perform at the appropriate tempo, it may not be able to pull off the skills at the escalated pace. Practicing with a reliable 8-count track will make for a smoother transition to performing in harmony for the real thing.
3. It helps you complete your 8-count sheet
Using an 8-count track at practice will help you fill out your 8-count sheet. An 8-count sheet is a textual representation of your choreography deconstructed into each count of your routine music. Music producers can look at an 8-count sheet and create music to fit your routine. For example, they can see that you’re planning to perform a coordinated backflip on a specific count, and they can place an appropriate sound effect at that exact moment to add impact. If you’re already practicing to an 8-count track in practice, it will be easy to simply transcribe each movement on the sheet and submit that to your music producers. It’s not difficult to fill out an 8-count sheet, but the clearer you are at conveying what you want, the more likely it is that you’ll end up with a high-impact performance. You can read more about how to complete an 8-count sheet here.
And there you have it! These are just a few of the main reasons to use an 8-count track during your cheer practices. If you have not used an 8-count track—give it a shot! We believe you will see the benefits immediately.