The vault is probably the least complicating of all the events. Basically, the more complex (more flipping, more twisting) the vault is, the more bonus a gymnast will receive.
The vault is performed off of a table that is roughly 4.5 feet off the ground. You will also see gymnasts run down a foam strip that is approximately 82 feet long before hitting the springboard. However, keep in mind that you may start closer to the board but must not exceed the 82 feet limit. The position of the board can also be changed (closer or farther away from the vault) to the gymnast’s liking.
Judges will look at several things:
- Landing Deductions: While sticking the landing is considered ideal, it is incredibly difficult to do so because vaults are becoming more complex than ever before. You may also notice that the mat is marked with lines. These lines are used by judges to determine whether the gymnast flipped straight through the air or not. If the trick goes off axis, the gymnast will usually land out of the marked lines which will result in a deduction (this is very similar to the floor exercise).
- Height of the Vault: If the gymnast does not get enough lift through the air, judges may deduct points
- Overall Sloppiness: Deduction can be taken for gymnasts that split their legs, show any sloppiness or unclean line through the air or when they contact the horse.
Here is me doing a vault at the USA Championships in 2007:
This vault is called a Kasamastsu with a full twist (it’s basically a round off to a layout off the horse with two twists). It’s one of the more difficult vaults but there are guys in the world who can add an extra twist to it. I’m hoping to be able to add at least another half turn to this so that I can raise the start value from a 16.2 to a 16.6.