The following are the criteria used during the judging of the competitions.
- TEAMWORK - Swing is a connected, partner dance. The demonstration of this connection and the appearance of lead/follow between the partners is an expected part of any competition dance. One partner ignoring or out-dancing the other, or jeopardizing the safety of the other, indicates poor teamwork.
- TIMING - Swing is danced beginning on the downbeat. Timing extends to much finer distinctions than a single beat. It includes whether a competitor is fractionally ahead or behind the beat as well as matching the syncopated "swing" of the music.
- TECHNIQUE - How well the competitors execute the movements comprising their dance constitutes technique. This includes control of balance and weight, foot placement, body lines, and spins.
- PRESENTATION - Creating an atmosphere of excitement by inviting and generating interest in a performance is the desired effect of good presentation. While showmanship is one aspect of presentation, it is not a substitute for good dancing.
- ERROR - An apparently unintentional breach of the rules. Each error shall be penalized at the discretion of the judge observing the error. An example of an error might be a brief, unintended loss of contact between the partners.
- VIOLATION - An apparently intentional breach of the rules. Each violation shall be penalized by a drop of one or more positions in the final placement of the competition or disqualification from the event. Each violation shall be penalized at the discretion of the judge observing the violation. Examples of violations include, but are not limited to, a lift during a West Coast Swing Jack & Jill competition, the use of an apparent routine during the Strictly Swing competition, or breach of good sportsmanship.