Everything You Need to Know About the Scoring in Gymnastics, Because Yeah, It's Complicated
If you only watch gymnastics when there's a major title on the line, you may not be well-versed in the scoring. While perfect 10s are still awarded in college gymnastics, on the elite level, they've been replaced with a more complex system that rewards risk as much as it does perfection.
Under the current scoring system, there are two major components of a gymnast's score: the difficulty score and the execution score. The difficulty score relates, as you might guess, to the difficulty of the elements performed in a given routine. Every element that a gymnast could potentially perform is assigned a specific skill level, each of which has its own point value. So a C-level skill, for instance, would be worth 0.3 points, while an E-level skill is designated 0.5 points. There can also be a bonus awarded when skills are successfully connected, and every gymnast's difficulty value includes an elements score, which is calculated based on whether the basic skills required on a particular apparatus are present in the routine. The difficulty score is ultimately comprised of the elements score and the point values for the 10 most difficult skills, as well as any bonus points for connections.
The execution score is the one you probably remember from the golden era of the perfect 10. It measures technique, execution, and artistry. Each gymnast starts with a value of 10, then deductions are assessed for any errors or imperfections during a routine. The value of the deduction depends on the severity of the mistake; a fall, for example, is the most detrimental at one point. The highest and lowest scores from the six-judge panel are dropped, and the remaining four are averaged to reach the final execution score.
So, if you've wondered how a gymnast like Simone Biles can nearly fall and still win, it ultimately boils down to the difficulty of the routine and how well they're able to balance that risk with the execution of those skills. Keep reading for a breakdown of the specific requirements for each event.
How Are Women's Uneven Bars Scored in Gymnastics?
An internationally competitive routine at the senior level requires five types of elements: flight elements between the two bars, a flight element on the same bar, a non-flight element with a turn on the bar, a minimum of two different kinds of grips, and a dismount. Each skill is then given the appropriate number of points, depending on its level of difficulty, and if it was correctly executed, the execution score is added on top of that for a final total.
How Is Men's High Bar Scored in Gymnastics?
Men's high bar is fairly similar to the women's uneven bar event in terms of the elements. Gymnasts are scored on various grips, swings, aerial work, turns, and a dismount.
How Are Men's Parallel Bars Scored in Gymnastics?
Men also compete on parallel bars, where they're required to complete a series of continuous swings and flight elements, as well as a dismount. Deductions are assessed for errors such as a gymnast moving his hands along the bars in a handstand.
How Is Women's Balance Beam Scored in Gymnastics?
The balance beam is an apparatus exclusive to the women's competition. Judges evaluate the routines based on their required elements: an appropriate mount and dismount, a full turn on one foot, one series of two acrobatic skills, a connection of two dance elements (one must be a jump with legs in a 180-degree split), and acrobatic elements in different directions. Deductions are taken for any errors, including moments where the gymnast has to check for balance or wobbles, as well as for falls.
How Is Men's Pommel Horse Scored in Gymnastics?
Pommel horse is only competed by men, and it's considered one of the toughest events, since its lack of static holds means it requires more detailed technique than sheer strength. Scoring in this event includes required elements such as single leg swings and "scissors," travels, and circles and flairs, which typically include spindles and handstands as well. Judges will deduct points if the gymnast doesn't adequately move along each section of the pommel horse, as well as for any pauses and for bumping into the apparatus during the routine.
How Is Men's Rings Scored in Gymnastics?
The rings are a men-only event. They're scored based on the presence and execution of elements such as swings to handstands, static strength holds, and skillful dismounts.
How Is Women's Vault Scored in Gymnastics?
There are three segments of a vault routine: pre-flight, repulsion, and flight. Pre-flight is the word used to describe the way a gymnast approaches the vaulting apparatus by running down the mat and, at the elite level, often performing a complex entry onto the springboard. After pushing off the vaulting apparatus itself (repulsion), gymnasts must perform aerial elements such as flips and twists, then land cleanly in a designated area of the mat. Points can be deducted for not "sticking" the landing (i.e. when a gymnast has to hop or step after landing to catch her balance), as well as for other errors throughout the vault.
How Is Men's Vault Scored in Gymnastics?
Men's vault is judged similarly to the women's event, with difficulty and execution points being awarded for both pre-flight and flight elements, and deductions being assessed for any errors during those phases, as well as during a gymnast's launch from the springboard.
How Is Women's Floor Exercise Scored in Gymnastics?
Women's floor routines are the most visibly artistic of all the events, as they include custom music and usually allow for a lot of personality to shine through. Routines consist of tumbling passes and series of dance elements like jumps and leaps, among other skills. A gymnast can perform up to four tumbling passes (at the top tier of senior-level competition, three or four tumbling passes are required), which often include at least one flight element. Deductions can occur for not using the whole mat, for making technical errors, and, oddly, for having lyrics in their music.
How Is Men's Floor Exercise Scored in Gymnastics?
Men's floor routines are similar in nature to the women's event, but the exact execution differs quite a bit. Male gymnasts do not perform to music, and the emphasis is more on strength and flexibility; their required elements include handstands, along with the usual acrobatic elements (flips and twists). Most of their deductions are along the same lines as those for women: using the same path for an acrobatic sequence more than once, not using the whole mat, and a lack of flexibility.