CompetitionOlympic competition consists of:
- Team: Five athletes are on a team – it was recently reduced from six to five (Here's why.) In preliminaries, four athletes compete on each event and three 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 four events and the total score is added up. At the Olympics and worlds, the top 24 athletes qualify into finals. Only the top two gymnasts from each country are allowed to compete in the
- Individual Events: An event champion is named on each apparatus. At worlds and the Olympics, the top eight scorers on each event from the first day of competition qualify into the event finals, with only two gymnasts per country allowed.
ScoringThe Perfect 10. Artistic gymnastics used to be well-known for its top score: the 10.0. First achieved in the Olympics by gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci, the 10.0 marked a perfect routine.
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 beam 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 right now are receiving scores in the 16s.
This new scoring system is considered controversial by many who felt the perfect 10.0 was an integral part of the sport. Others in the gymnastics community have expressed concern that the difficulty score is weighed too heavily in the final score, and therefore gymnasts are attempting skills that they can’t always complete safely.
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 scoring in women’s gymnastics is very complicated, spectators can still distinguish great routines from good ones without knowing every nuance and skill value. When watching a routine, be sure to look for:
- Good Form and Execution: Even when performing difficult skills, a gymnast should always look in control, and when performed at its best, each skill should look effortless. Good form in gymnastics includes pointed toes, straight arms and legs, and a tightness throughout the body. Every movement should look planned.
- Height and Distance: In flips, jumps, leaps, and other skills, the gymnast should look as if she is exploding off the apparatus. In release moves on the uneven bars, the gymnast should be flying high above the bar, not simply skimming over it. On vault, the distance a gymnast travels from the horse is a factor in her final score.
- A Stuck Landing: On vaulting, tumbling passes, and when dismounting the balance beam and uneven bars, the gymnast should end her routine with a “stuck landing” -- she should not move her feet once they hit the ground.
- Uniqueness of the Routine: A great gymnast will perform a routine that looks different from her competitors. It will have something special about it – risky tricks, an artistic flair, or skills that are simply unique from others performed in the competition.
Poll: Do you like the current scoring system (no 10.0 top score)?