Detailed List of the Problems with International Gymnastics Scoring

FIG logoAs was discussed in a previous article, there are problems with the international scoring and competitive system.  Before a solution and a revised new Gymnastics Code of Points can be developed, it is necessary to know and understand what are the problems, inequities and complications of the current code and competition system.

This web page article is dedicated to identifying, developing and compiling a comprehensive list of the current problems in the sport of gymnastics. In this article, we are not planning on taking sides and may list completely conflicting problems or points of view, which seems like the best posture to adopt in the beginning of such a process.

We are definitely asking for the help of gymnastics professionals and enthusiasts in this process through comments. Please do not hesitate to list any problems that you perceive in the sport. We will have a subsequent article and ability to post solutions to any and all of the problems identified here.

There are others who have already contributed significantly to this list and will likely con tribute more in the future on this and other topics, including Blythe Lawrence of the Gymnastics  Examiner.com, Brigid McCarthy of the CouchGymnast.com and Rick McCharles of GymnasticsCoaching.com.

We are listing both problems general to the sport and by event to as completely as possible identify what needs to be fixed. We are not currently evaluating these perceived problems as to validity, only listing them, even perceived problems we may not agree with.

General Problems in the Sport:

  • Abandoning the 10.0 (perfect score system) was TV-wise, financially and public relations-wise insane, like completely destroying a company’s brand name recognition and years of advertising for no good reason.
  • Difficulty and execution are not balanced. One always seems to be favored by the rules.
  • Difficulty and combinations are not compared correctly. Combinations get too much emphasis.
  • Judges are not capable of comprehending the overwhelming list of rules.
  • Judges are not capable of distinguishing scores to thousandths of a point.
  • Humans are not perfect. Scoring systems should not expect gymnasts to be perfect.
  • Pressure on gymnasts at the international level, especially the Olympics, is too high because of the rules.
  • The best gymnasts in the world, ages 12 – 15, are not allowed to compete at World Championships and the Olympics.
  • Current minimum age rules give unfair advantage to some gymnasts who naturally turn 16 in the year of the Olympics.
  • Current minimum age rules discriminate against some gymnasts who are too young to compete in one Olympics and who have already gone away to college by the next Olympics.
  • Country/region bias in gymnastics scoring is still too big a factor.
  • Judges from secondary and tertiary level gymnastics countries have little experience judging extremely high level skills and routines because they don’t as often see that in their own country, but they are often used to judge to avoid bias.
  • Judging and judges come to determine placings on events too much on the basis of single deductions, like landings in previous quadrenniums and handstands on uneven bars currently.
  • The balance of specialists vs. all-arounders needs to be examined, but their inclusion has been good for the sport and for spreading gymnastics medals around to more countries.
  • The F.I.G. definitely needs new blood (term limits), new technology, new ideas and more innovation.

General Problems with the Rules of the Sport:

  • Current rules over dictate gymnast and coach’s choice of skills.
  • Current rules give All-Around advantage to gymnasts who are good at one event, like vault or high bar, where the scores go so high they determine the A.A.
  • Higher difficulty skills should be receive overall less deduction than simple skills for the same technical error, for example, piking down on a triple twisting Yurchenko should result in less of a total deduction than piking down on a layout Yurchenko.
  • Current rules may favor difficulty over execution as former rules emphasized execution over difficulty too much. A balance needs to be found.
  • Current scoring is incomprehensible to many average gymnastics coaches around the world, much less to spectators.
  • Judges are now able to hide their inability to adequately evaluate execution because of the dominance of difficulty scores.
  • Gymnasts should be allowed to repeat skills if it contributes to how impressive the routine is.
  • Risk, Originality and Virtuosity (ROV) needs to re-assume its rightful place in the sport.
  • Combinations have too much prevalence and importance in the sport and hold more gymnasts back from developing high difficulty tumbling and original dance.
  • Best 10 skills for men may be too many.
  • Still somewhat too much emphasis on stuck dismounts.

Problems with Women’s Vault:

  • Vaults, like Amanars (2&1/2 twisting Yurchenkos), get too big a jump in difficulty, so that gymnasts can possibly win or medal even with major errors.
  • Landing zone errors do not reflect the realities of the difficulties of the landing of certain high level twisting vaults and over-deduct.

Problems with Women’s Uneven Bars:

  • Not hitting handstands results in judges over-deducting and limits the style, flair and execution possibilities of various skills.
  • Because of handstand emphasis, gymnasts must almost stop and show handstands, instead of swinging bars.
  • Certain skills are deducted for not hitting handstands when technically they either cannot or should not hit handstand.
  • A double twisting pirouette will not be done without allowing a full-in, full-out style pirouette without deduction.
  • Bar routines have become marathons with almost twice as many (up to 22 instead of 10 – 12) skills as used to be before switching to open ended scoring.

Problems with Women’s Balance Beam:

  • Gymnasts must pack so much difficulty in routines that they are simply difficult skill after difficult skill instead of choreographed routines.
  • Too many ugly jumps are done because they are too highly rated.

Problems with Women’s Floor Exercise:

  • Floor routines have almost compulsory stock dance because of gymnasts and coaches picking the easiest skills to get difficulty totally stifling originality.
  • Grace, elegance and virtuosity have declined in open-ended scoring.
  • Front tumbling is overvalued.

Problems with Men’s Floor Exercise:

  • No time any more for balance elements, presses, flairs and corner skills.
  • No time for fully extending the execution of skills.
  • All difficulty is essentially coming only from tumbling.
  • Still too many unstuck dive roll variation passes allowed, often with poor roll-outs un-deducted.

Problems with Men’s Pommel Horse:

  • Single leg cuts no longer fit the flow and types of pommel horse routines that gymnasts are currently doing.
  • Covering up handstand dismount errors is too common.

Problems with Men’s Rings:

  • Strength skills predominate to the extent that swinging to handstands is no longer much of a factor.
  • Rings is now more an endurance strength event rather than a strength event.
  • 10 highest difficulty skills is maybe too many.

Problems with Men’s Vault:

  • Scores in vault can be overly high affecting the results of the All-Around competition too much.
  • The landing zone is too narrow of twisting vaults so relatively small direction errors are over-deducted.

Problems with Men’s Parallel Bars:

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Problems with Men’s High Bar:

  • Scores on high bar can be overly high, affecting the results of the All-Around competition too significantly.
  • Exaggerated tap swings have detracted from the beauty of high bar.

Please Comment and add to our lists!

 

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4 Responses to “Detailed List of the Problems with International Gymnastics Scoring”

  1. Elemarth May 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    As a fan who has spent a lot of time thinking about this subject, I hope it’s not too late to comment (I can’t find a date for when this was posted). I would like to add the following:

    Uneven Bars: There should be some encouragement for gymnasts to perform more difficult mounts.

    Uneven Bars: There could also be some encouragement for gymnasts to perform dismounts other than the standard back saltos from back giants.

    Women’s Floor and Balance Beam: The difficulty of dance skills is underrated, causing gymnasts to be less daring in their dance and instead focus on tumbling. For instance, on balance beam, the triple turn is rated as an E. However, considering the number of gymnasts who perform it in competition and their execution in performing it, it is more comparable to G skills. On floor as of the 2009 code, only one non-tumbling skill is rated as high as E, the quadruple turn. There should be more balance in difficulty values between tumbling and dance. It appears that there is an artificial upper limit on the difficulty of dance skills: they are not allowed to be rated higher than E.

    Balance Beam and Women’s Floor: There is no connection bonus for dance skills except for a connection between C and A turns on the beam. On the beam, this is leading gymnasts to use the easiest jumps/leaps they can for their series. On floor, it would be nice to see connection values for difficult leap series or connected turns.

    Balance Beam: There should be a connection value for a jump or leap connected to a salto, as there is in NCAA gymnastics.

    Balance Beam: There should be more official skills that take place close to the beam.

    Balance Beam: Acrobatic mounts are seriously underrated.

    Balance Beam: The side aerial/tucked side somi is allowed, is appealingly difficult, and apparently will not earn the gymnast deductions for landing with bent knees and wide-apart feet. The ugliness of this skill is among the biggest complaints from fans about balance beam routines.

    Women’s floor: Connection values are underrated, so gymnasts avoid connecting saltos in their backwards tumbling passes.

    Generally: Judges are scoring execution too low. It appears to have become impossible for a woman to score above 9.2 in execution, even for an apparently flawless routine or vault. This is very confusing and frustrating for the audience and most likely the gymnasts as well.

    Generally: Elite women’s gymnastics is becoming too elite. Difficulty scores is making gymnastics more dangerous and therefore time-consuming to learn. Fewer and fewer gymnasts are being allowed to compete in each event in the team round. I have also heard that the Olympics will now only allow five women to compete on a country’s team. It seems that more and more people are being left out of the highest levels of gymnastics.

    Generally: In the team round, one score from each event should be dropped. This would not be done by counting only two of the three gymnasts but by allowing a fourth gymnast to compete on each event (if the team chooses).

    Generally: Deductions should be taken for lack of artistry and originality.

  2. Gym Momentum (@gym_momentum) December 26, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Detailed list of problems with international gymnastics scoring from @GymnasticsZone

  3. Courtney Keating (@CourtJK) December 26, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I agree with most. RT@gym_momentum: Detailed list of problems w/ international gymnastics scoring from @GymnasticsZone

  4. Alexis Olson May 4, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    Since you don’t have anything for parallel bars, let me give you a couple.

    Under FIG rules, taller gymnasts are not allowed to raise the bars in order to clear their knees on hanging elements. This means nearly all Element Group III skills (like Moys, giant swings, Tippelts, Belles, Gushikens, etc.) are off limits for taller gymnast (only glide kip elements remain).

    Full pirouette and single bar handstands skills are somewhat underrated.

    The double pike dismount is far too common.

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