'Dancing With the Stars' Season 26: Everything you need to know about the all-athlete season

The new season of Dancing With the Stars is almost here -- and it's unlike anything we've seen before.

The show is switching things up for season 26, with a condensed season featuring all athletes. That means heightened competition, higher stakes and even more devastating eliminations, but we can hardly wait.

With five Olympians, three which are figure skaters, and two basketball players, things are bound to get intense as the fight for the mirrorball trophy kicks off on Monday night's premiere. From the best team names to the show's new format, ET has everything you need to know about DWTS: Athletes.


1. #TeamBackThatPassUp: Josh Norman & Sharna Burgess

2. #TeamAxellent: Tonya Harding & Sasha Farber

3. #TeamPitchPerfect: Jennie Finch & Keo Motsepe

4. #TeamMoveItOrLougeIt: Chris Mazdzer & Witney Carson

5. #TeamFireandIce: Mirai Nagasu & Alan Bersten

6. #TeamMirrorBallers: Arike Ogunbowale & Gleb Savchenko

7. #TeamTallandSmall: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Lindsay Arnold

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Meet #teamtallandsmall on @dancingabc April 30th

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8. #TeamJustFriends: Adam Rippon & Jenna Johnson

9. #TeamHomeRun: Johnny Damon & Emma Slater

10. #TeamSpirit: Jamie Anderson & Artem Chigvintsev


With the shortened season, the stars will only have four weeks to win the mirrorball -- altering the show's elimination schedule. Unlike regular seasons, there will be an elimination during week one, with voting taking place during the live show.

The decision on who goes home will be based on both the judges' scores and viewers' live votes during the broadcast -- which means fans on the west coast and mountain time won't be given the opportunity to vote during their broadcast week one.


Fans will be faced with hard decisions for the rest of the season, as each week will most likely see two couples go home.

"What I think is going to happen, we're going to have two dances a week," Gleb told ET earlier this month. "We have three weeks of rehearsals, four weeks of the show, and each week, we have two couples go home. So, it'll be really intense. It’s gonna fly!"

According to Artem, however, the compacted season is the perfect setting for an all-athletes competition.

"Athletes notoriously do so well on the show, so I feel like it's going to be very competitive," he said. "I think everyone's really going to love it."


Well, pretty much everyone. Artem put it best when he said that athletes have done well on the show, and it's no secret why. No matter what sport they come from, each contestant's body has been conditioned for physical activity -- and long hours in the gym.

Now retired, Kareem is entering DWTS with 20 seasons of professional basketball under his belt. He was a record six-time NBA MVP, a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.

Also coming from the basketball world is Arike, while Josh comes from football and Johnny from baseball. And the season is also full of Olympic athletes, like Jennie (softball), Jamie (snowboarding) and Chris (luging).

Tonya, meanwhile, is one of three figure skaters in the competition -- joining Olympians Mirai and Adam -- and was the first American woman to successfully land a triple axel in competition. It's that drive that Witney told ET makes her and the other skaters ones to watch out for.

"They've had a lot of success on the show, for sure. A lot of them had won, so we're definitely eyeing them down," she confessed. "They're going to be our biggest [competition]."


In addition to only athletes competing and the shortened time frame, this season of DWTS also has a new showrunner, Andrew Llinares, who plans to bring a little more emotion to the series.

"The challenge is to find a way to hold on to the key values of the show, while moving it forward while keeping current and fresh," Llinares told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's definitely about evolution rather than revolution."

"Story and emotion are absolutely key for me. With that in mind, I want us to find ways to make the stories on the show even more compelling and the emotional connection, which the viewer has to the performances, even stronger," he continued. "I also want us to come up with ideas that surprise and excite the viewers every week, so that they keep coming back for more."


The music choices on night one will include a couple special tributes. Most notably, Avicii's "Feeling Good" will set the stage for Jamie and Artem's dance, 10 days after the DJ's tragic death. And Adam will be dancing to RuPaul's "Sissy That Walk," after gushing about him to ET!

Adam & Jenna
Cha Cha, "Sissy That Walk" by RuPaul

Arike & Gleb
Salsa, "Them Girls" by Whitney Myer

Chris & Witney
Salsa, "Mr. Put It Down" by Ricky Martin feat. Pitbull

Jamie & Artem
Viennese Waltz, "Feeling Good" by Avicii

Jennie & Keo
Foxtrot, "All-American Girl" by Carrie Underwood

Johnny & Emma
Foxtrot, "Centerfield" by John Fogerty

Josh & Sharna
Cha Cha "Finesse" by Bruno Mars

Kareem & Lindsay
Cha Cha, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" by Stevie Wonder

Mirai & Alan
Salsa, "No Excuses" by Meghan Trainor

Tonya & Sasha
Foxtrot, "When You Believe" by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

Dancing With the Stars returns Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC