Intro to Today’s Gymnastics

For those of you that are confused about gymnastics, let me tell you that I’m right there with you. To give you guys a little bit of background info, five years ago, the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) thought it would be a “brilliant” idea to get rid of the 10.0 scoring system and tweak it so that gymnasts could receive scores that go all the way up to the 16.0 range (all of this happened after the Athens Games in 2004). The current Code of Points (aka the “Code” is a set of rules that define how gymnastics be judged) is an open-ended system where gymnasts could earn scores well above 10.0. Truthfully speaking, this change has led gymnastics to become an “extreme sport” because it began emphasizing gymnasts to try and pack in as many difficult skills as they can into their routine. We can say that this process dramatically changed the sport of gymnastics. This is not only in the sense that the 10.0 system was lost, but the artistic aspect of the sport started to deteriorate. I have to say that this is a very sad thing considering that this sport is called: Artistic Gymnastics.

Now that we don’t have the 10.0 system, what do we associate as being perfect? How do we do we determine what is good and what is bad? While I’m not too sure why the FIG made this change to the scoring system, I do know how the actual system works. In this section, I would like to explain a bit about how judges come up with their scores so that you can gain a better understanding of what is going on at competitions.

If you want to read more about the individual events, check out these links below. I also have a lot more info about judging in general in the following sections:

Floor Exercise | Pommel Horse | Still Rings | Vault | Parallel Bars | Horizontal Bar

How Exactly Are Routines Judged?

First of all, there are two main things that judges look at:

  1. The difficulty of the routine. This is calculated by the “D” panel (“D” stands for “Difficulty). Basically, a more difficult skill will be awarded with more bonus points.
  2. The execution of the routine. This is calculated by the “E” panel (“E” stands for “Execution). The “E” panel evaluates whether or not a skill is performed flawlessly. They are responsible for taking deduction for improper technique, falling off the equipment, and bad body position, among many other things.

At higher-level competitions (such as the Olympics, World Championships, National Championships, etc), each judge is strictly assigned to be either a “D” or an “E” panel. You may also see more judges at bigger meets (four or more). This is done so that they can evaluate a routine more accurately in the event that one judge misses something. On the other hand, at smaller meets, you may only see one judge per event. At those types of meets, each judge is expected to take the role of both, the “D” and “E” panel.

The Role of “D” Panels (They Calculate the “Start Value”)

In the gymnastics world, the total difficulty of a routine is known as the “D” score. This is actually the same thing as the “Start Value” of a routine (a lot of people actually refer to it as this). In order to get the “Start Value” the judges do the following:

1) Add the 10 highest valued skills in a routine:

Each and every skill in gymnastics is assigned a certain value from “A-G”. “A” skills are considered the easiest to do (a back flip on floor for example) and a gymnast will receive 0.1 in bonus for performing it in a routine. “B” skills are a little more complex (such as a back flip with a full twist) and are worth 0.2 in bonus. “C” skills are worth 0.3, “D” skills are 0.4…ok you get the point. Anyway, this pattern is followed all the way up to “G” rated skills. There are only a few skills in the Code that have this rating since they are considered to be the hardest and most complex. For completing a “G” skill in a routine, a gymnast will receive 0.7 in bonus (for example a triple back on floor).

2) Award 0.5 in bonus for completing a skill from each of the 5 “element groups”:

A gymnast will receive a total of 2.5 in bonus for fulfilling all five element groups (actually, you click on the events below to get a better explanation on this).

3) “Combination Bonus” is awarded for doing difficult skills in succession (rule only applies to Floor and High Bar)

So there you have it. In order to figure out the overall bonus of the routine (aka “Start Value”), all of these things are added together. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are important restrictions:

  • Skills cannot be repeated for bonus. Repetition is not allowed (the 10 skills being counted for bonus must all be the different).
  • Cannot do more than four skills from a given category (i.e. the fifth skill performed from a certain element group will not be counted towards the “Start Value”).

Finally, in case you needed a reminder of how much bonus is awarded for performing each type of skill, here is a list:

A skill – 0.1 in bonus (considered easiest)
B skill – 0.2 in bonus
C skill – 0.3 in bonus
D skill – 0.4 in bonus
E skill – 0.5 in bonus
F skill – 0.6 in bonus
G skill – 0.7 in bonus (considered the hardest skills in gymnastics)

The “E” Panel’s Job (Deduct, deduct, deduct)

The “E” panel take on an equally crucial job. Their task is to find errors within the routine and deduct points accordingly. It takes a while to develop a critical eye for gymnastics but the know the following and you should be able to get a general understanding of how points are deducted:

  • Small Error: 0.1 in deduction (a very small flaw: little step on the landing, etc)
  • Medium Error: 0.3 in deduction (medium flaw: splitting of the legs when not supposed to, etc)
  • Large Error: 0.5 in deduction (large flaw: huge bend in the body when a skill is supposed to be done straight, etc)
  • Falling from the apparatus: 1.0 in deduction (completely coming off of an equipment results in a 1.0 deduction)

In order to come up with the final “E” score, the total deduction is subtracted from total of 10.0. For example, if the routine only had 0.5 in execution error, the final “E” score will be 9.5 (10.0-0.5=9.5).

When all of this is said and done, the “D” score and the “E” score are added together to come up with the final score!

For example, if the “D” score was 6.1 and the “E” score was 9.5, the final score would be 15.6 (6.1+9.5=15.6).

Now you’re probably wondering how to distinguish a good score from a poor score in the current system, and you know what, I don’t blame you. After all, it’s very hard to know without the old 10.0 scoring system because we used to associate the 10.0 as being perfect. Well, look no further. Check down to get a feel for what are considered good scores on each of the 6 events.

What is Considered a Good Score?

So as you can see, with the exception of vault (vault is a high scoring event) scores in the mid-15 range are usually considered a to be very good. However, every once in a while, you may see higher scores from guys that are in contention to medal at the Olympics or World Championships. Sometimes scores may even break into the 16.0 range.

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