CompetitionOlympic competition consists of:
- Team: Six athletes are on a team. In preliminaries, five athletes compete on each of the six events and four scores count. In finals, three athletes compete on each event and every score counts towards the team total. Only the scores from the final round are considered when deciding the team medals.
- Individual All-Around: An athlete competes on all six events and the total score is added up.
- Individual Events: An event champion is named on each apparatus.
ScoringThe Perfect 10. Artistic gymnastics used to be well-known for its top score: the 10.0. First achieved in the Olympics by female gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci, the 10.0 marked a perfect routine. Since 1992, however, no artistic gymnasts have earned a 10.0 in the World Championships or Olympics.
A New System. In 2005, however, gymnastics officials did a complete overhaul of the Code of Points. Today, the difficulty of the routine and the execution (how well the skills are performed) are combined to create the final score:
- The execution (“E”) score begins at a 10.0, and the judges deduct for errors in performance such as a fall off the apparatus or a step on the landing of a dismount.
- The difficulty (“D”) score starts at 0.0 and increases with every difficult skill performed.
In this new system there is theoretically no limit to the score a gymnast can achieve. The top performances in men’s gymnastics right now are receiving scores in the mid-16s.
This new scoring system has been criticized by fans, gymnasts, coaches and other gymnastics insiders. Many believed the perfect 10.0 was essential to the identity of the sport. Some members of the gymnastics community feel that the new Code of Points has resulted in an increase in injuries because the difficulty score is weighed too heavily, convincing gymnasts to attempt very risky skills.
NCAA women's gymnastics, the US Junior Olympic program and other competitive arenas besides elite gymnastics have maintained the 10.0 as the top score.
Judge for YourselfThough the Code of Points in men’s gymnastics is complex, spectators can still identify great routines without knowing every nuance of the scoring system. When watching a routine, be sure to look for:
- Good Form and Execution: A gymnast should always look as though he is in complete control, even when performing the most difficult of skills. Good form in gymnastics includes pointed toes, straight arms and legs, and a tightness throughout the body. Every movement should look planned.
- Strength Moves Held Long Enough: On the still rings and on floor, the gymnast must stay in position for 2 seconds on each strength move (e.g. planche (pictured next page), iron cross, Maltese (pictured above).
- Height and Distance: In tumbling passes, vaults, and release moves, the gymnast should look as if he is exploding off the apparatus. On vault, the distance a gymnast travels from the horse is a factor in his final score.
- A Stuck Landing: On vaulting, dismounts, and tumbling passes on floor, the gymnast should end with a “stuck landing” -- he should not move his feet once they hit the ground. Unlike women's artistic gymnastics, the gymnast is not allowed to lunge backward out of tumbling passes.
- Uniqueness of the Routine: A great gymnast will perform a routine that looks different from the rest. It will have something special about it -- risky tricks, an artistic flare, or skills that are simply unique from others performed in the competition.
Poll: Do you like the new scoring system (no 10.0 top score)?