Answers About the USA Gymnastics HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Programs

To: Ask the Coach
Subject: HOPES

Sex: female
Age: 12
Gymnastics Level: 9

My daughter is going into her level nine season, and her coach has started training her for HOPES, but has yet to explain to me what that is, what is expected of her, or what this will lead to. I have been trying to find an overview of the program, and how it will benefit my daughter in her dream to become Elite. I need to know what this program is all about as I would like to encourage my daughter in the right ways. I am also wondering the ages of HOPES as my daughter is 12 and will be 13 in April of 2013. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

What the HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Programs Are

The USA Gymnastics HOPES Program is one of two pre-Elite competition programs – HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite programs. The TOPs program is a testing program, that is managed under the same committee control as the HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite programs. None of these programs are classified as “being Elite.”

Age Problem

And you are right to be questioning and wondering about her age and the HOPES program. While there may be HOPES qualifiers while your daughter is still 12, she will be 13 next summer and too old for the HOPES Challenge and Classic competitions. She actually should be looking at the Junior Pre-Elite level, information and qualifying scores. While both programs have the same compulsory testing elements and test at the same qualifiers, there are differences between the two program’s qualifying scores, with the Junior Pre-Elite program requiring higher qualifying scores in both compulsories and optionals. The competitions, she is age eligible for this summer, would be the Junior Pre-Elite meets.

Elites, HOPES and Junior Pre-Elites Use International Scoring at Meets

The optional gymnastics meet scoring system used by Elites, HOPES and Junior Pre-Elites is different than the USAG Level 9 and Level 10 JO 10.0 scoring system. Elites, HOPES and Junior Pre-Elites use international scoring, which has two scores added together – an Execution score up to 10.0 and a Difficulty score (the highest has been about 7.2 – 7.4). So an international score will be above a 10.0 (hopefully anyway) and could currently be up to 17.4 on some events. A big difference between USAG and International scoring is that the deductions are higher in International rules, for example a fall is a .5 deduction in USAG and 1.0 in International competition.

Differences Between HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite

The primary differences between HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite are age differences, qualifying scores and modified competition rules. HOPES is for gymnasts ages 10 – 12. Junior Pre-Elite is for gymnasts ages 11 – 14. Gymnasts can qualify and become HOPES or Junior Pre-Elite by hitting the qualifying score(s) in Compulsories and/or Optionals.

HOPES Qualifying Scores

The HOPES compulsory qualifying score is 32.00 which must be scored at a Qualifier. HOPES optional qualifying scores for 12 year olds are 48.00. For ages 10 – 11, the HOPES optional qualifying score is 47.00

Junior Pre-Elite Qualifying Scores

The Junior Pre-Elite compulsory qualifying score is 33.5. The Junior Pre-Elite optional qualifying score for ages 11 – 12 is 48.00. The Junior Pre-Elite qualifying score for ages 13 – 14 is 49.00. Optional competition must be full routines on competition surfaces and all qualifying is done at National Qualifiers or a Team Training Camps. A summary of the qualifying information for HOPES, Junior Pre-Elite and Elite is listed here.

What The HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Lead To

Of course, the TOPs, HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite programs are designed to help transition gymnasts into the Jr. and Sr. Elite program levels and get high level optional competition experience, judging and training camp opportunities.

The HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Challenge and Classic Meets

After qualifying to become a HOPES or Junior Pre-Elite gymnast, they are eligible to compete in the HOPES or Junior Pre-Elite Challenge and Classic Competitions, which are held at the same venue and same weeks as the Elite U.S. Challenge and U.S. Classic competitions.

The Grand Prize for HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Gymnasts

From the HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite US Challenge competition, gymnasts are selected to attend a Developmental Training Camp at Karolyi’s National Training Center. They get to work with (and become known to) the Elite National coaches, judges and USA Gymnastics staff. This is certainly a “political” advantage in a future Elite gymnast’s career.


We are currently in the period right after the Olympics and after the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) have just come out with the new rules for the next quadrennium (in this case 2013 – 2016). This is a time that Elite, testing and pre-Elite rules are often changed. Also note that information is not always posted to the USA Gymnastics website in a timely manner regarding HOPES and Pre-Elite. There is outdated information on their website right now in these areas and most of the 2013 information and schedule is not yet available or posted.

Keeping Up With HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite

The following links should help in keeping up with any changes to the HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite programs (bearing in mind the above warning):

New information for HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite is available here first.

You can find your State TOPs manager here, which may currently be the best local source of TOPs, HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite information.

The Current HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Compulsory Routines are listed here.

The latest (but old) HOPES optional competition rules modification information is listed here.

Hope that helps! Good luck to your daughter and I hope to see her at the upcoming Pre-Elite and Elite competitions. If you have any more questions or we can help in any way, please let me know.

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2 Responses to “Answers About the USA Gymnastics HOPES and Junior Pre-Elite Programs”

  1. ABIGAIL EKPO November 16, 2012 at 8:20 am #


  2. Rob June 2, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    Nice informative and inspirational content shared above, every aspirants should read this.

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