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The Code of Points is a rulebook that defines the scoring system for each level of competition in gymnastics. There is not a universal international Code of Points, and every oversight organization — such as the FIG (Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique), NCAA Gymnastics, and most national gymnastics federations — designs and employs its own unique Code of Points.
The FIG Code of Points
The FIG Code of Points is defined in a public document provided by the Federation. Gymnasts competing at lower levels or outside the FIG's jurisdiction (e.g., NCAA gymnastics and local club teams) may not be scored according to the FIG code.
2006 Revised Code
In 2006, the Code of Points and the entire gymnastics scoring system were completely overhauled. The change stemmed from the judging controversy at 2004 Olympics in Athens, which brought the reliability and objectivity of the scoring system into question, and arguments that execution had been sacrificed for difficulty in artistic gymnastics. It follows a similarly radical scoring change in figure skating that also was prompted by irregularities in judging at major events.
Since its inception in major events in 2006, the Code has faced strong opposition from many prominent coaches, athletes and judges. Proponents of the new system believe it is a necessary step in advancing gymnastics, promoting difficult skills and increasing judging objectivity. Opponents feel that people outside the gymnastics community will not understand the scoring and will lose interest in the sport, and that, without emphasising artistry, the essence of gymnastics will change. Many opponents of the new scoring system feel that this system, in essence, chooses the winners before competition ever begins. Competitors no longer compete on the same level. Each contestant begins with a unique start value; therefore, contestants assigned a lower start value or difficulty rating are knocked out of the winner's circle before the competition begins. They may compete, but they cannot win. A competitor with a higher difficulty rating will begin competition with a higher combined base score. There has been dissent over the fact that the new Code effectively abolishes the "perfect 10" score, for many years one of the hallmarks of gymnastics. There has also been concern that the new Code strongly favors extreme difficulty over form, execution and consistency. At the 2006 World Championships, for instance, Vanessa Ferrari of Italy was able to controversially win the women's all-around title despite a fall on the balance beam, in part by picking up extra points from performing more high-difficulty skills on floor exercise. The 2006 report of the FIG's Athletes' Commission, drafted after a review and discussion of the year's events noted several areas of concern including numerous inconsistencies in judging and evaluation of skills and routines.
However, the leadership of the FIG remains committed to the new Code. While small revisions have been made to the Code, there is currently no indication that it will be significantly altered or that there will be a return to the old Code or 10.0 scoring system.
The current Code of Points covers the years 2017 to 2020. Following past editions, there is no top score of 10.0, nor is there an upper limit of the difficulty score. On all apparatuses except vault, official men's skills are rated from A (0.1) to I (0.9) and women's skills from A (0.1) to J (1.0). Currently, there are only two top-rated I (0.9) skills for men: the Miyachi on high bar, or double-twisting straight Kovac release, by Hidetaka Miyachi of Japan, and the Nagornyy on floor exercise, or triple back piked somersault, by Nikita Nagornyy of Russia. Meanwhile, there is only one top-rated J (1.0) skill for women, which is the Biles 2 on floor, or triple-twisting double (tucked) back somersault, by Simone Biles of the United States. Due to the nature of apparatus, the vault event's difficulty scores for men are rated from 1.6 to 6.0 while for women are from 2.0 to 6.4. Currently, there are four men's vaults with the top rate of 6.0, but only two women's vaults with the top rate of 6.4, which are the Produnova, or handspring double front somersault, by Yelena Produnova of Russia, and Biles, or "half on–double full off", by Biles again. Difficulty score of the Yurchenko triple twist (or triple-twisting Yurchenko [TTY]) on women's vault has also earlier been assessed ahead to a value of 6.8, and will receive eponymous naming as soon as it is successfully completed (it has already been attempted) in competition.
Table of elements
The Table of Elements is the section of the Code of Points used to identify, classify and assign value to gymnastics elements. Every acrobatic and dance skill is listed, illustrated and assigned a difficulty rating. For all apparatus except vault, difficulty ratings for both the women's and men's elements range from A (easiest) to J (most difficult). Difficulty ratings are valued as follows: A (.10), B (.20), C (.30), D (.40), E (.50), F (.60), G (.70), H (.80), I (.90), and J (1.0). The values are used to tabulate the gymnast's score. Each vault is assigned a difficulty value ranging from 2.0 (easiest) to 6.4 (most difficult). The Table of Elements did not undergo major changes in the 2006 Code overhaul.
As other aspects of the Code, the Table of Elements is frequently re-evaluated. Skills listed in the Table may have their difficulty ratings raised or lowered after evaluation by the FIG Technical Committee. In addition, skills that are determined to be too dangerous to the athletes may be banned outright, for example roll-out skills like the Thomas Salto. The Technical Committee may also give specific hazardous skills artificially low difficulty ratings to deter gymnasts from trying to compete them, such as the Biles on balance beam and also Produnova on women's vault, which were assigned a D-score of H (0.8) to the beam skill and 6.4 to the vault skill. The former is a double-twisting double back tucked somersault dismount, and latter is a front handspring double front somersault. The Biles on balance beam was originated by American Simone Biles at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, and that skill's D-score assignment of H (0.8), which the FIG has defended their somewhat underscored difficulty value of the Biles on balance beam by explaining that due to the extremely high risks of causing injury associated when training and/or performing this skill, they as the governing body does have the responsibility of trying keep gymnasts safe and setting the D-scores for the unnecessarily risky skills associated to perhaps a somewhat lower value than it truly deserves, simply to discourage any attempt at the skill by gymnasts who are not technically or physically ready to the try the skill just yet, to do so at an unduly higher risk of getting hurt. The Produnova on vault has been long considered the most difficult vault ever to be successfully completed by women. Only five women have ever successfully/officially landed the skill and earn a score in competition, and its originator, Elena Produnova of Russia, the only woman who managed to first stick the vault on landing at the 1999 University Games in Moscow when it was first unveiled to the world—the vault was later officially verified for its successful completion by the FIG at the 1999 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. However, its difficulty value has been steadily decreasing over the years even though still no additional women have been able to land the skill safely or moreover officially attempted the skill in competition for many years now. This vault at one time had a D-score of 7.1, then to 7.0, and later to just 6.4 now, which is now equal to the D-score of the Biles on vault—technically a Yurchenko half twist onto vaulting platform and then into a double twist off it after (or again a “½ on–2/1 off” in practice). Even with the same D-score, many still see the Produnova as being underscored again due to the FIG openly acknowledging deliberately scoring lower of certain proportionately riskier skills like in order to discourage the selection and/or training of such skills for competition.
Many of the skills in the Table of Elements are named after gymnasts. An original element is named after an athlete when he or she is the first person to successfully perform it at an official FIG event, such as a World Championships, an Olympics, or a FIG World Cup. Gymnasts and their coaches must submit their original skill to the FIG before the meet for evaluation and possible inclusion in the Table of Elements.
Judging and score tabulation
Two panels of judges evaluate each performance. One evaluates the difficulty and the other evaluates the execution. The final mark is the combined total of these two scores.
The D-score (or difficulty score) indicates the difficulty of the exercise on 3 criteria:
- Difficulty Value (DV): The difficulty value of a routine is the combined total of the eight elements with the highest value according to the Table of Elements. The dismount is included as one of the eight elements. Elements are rated from 0.10 to 1.0 according difficulty.
- Composition Requirements (CR): In the 2017 Code of Points, gymnasts must demonstrate skills from four required Element Groups on each apparatus. For each composition requirement completed, 0.5 points are awarded. The maximum CR score is 2.00. From 2008 to 2016, there were five different Element Groups for each apparatus, allowing a gymnast to earn up to 2.5 points.
- Connection Value (CV): Gymnasts can earn extra points by connecting two or more elements. The number of points awarded is determined by the rating of the elements performed in combination.
The D-score judging panel does not take deductions. However, they may decide not to award points for elements that are performed incorrectly or not completed. They may also decide not to award connection value points if there are extra steps or pauses between skills that are meant to be connected.
There is no upper limit on the D-score.
The E-score (or execution score) evaluates the execution and artistry of the routine.
- The base score is 10.0 for all routines. The E-score judging panel deducts points for errors in form, artistry, execution, technique and routine composition. Errors are judged to be small, medium or large and respective 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5 deductions are applied. There is a 1.0 deduction for falling.
The D-score and E-score are added together for the gymnast's final mark.
Scoring for vault is somewhat different:
- Every vault is assigned a points value. The D-score is simply this value. Every gymnast performing the same vault will receive the same D-score.
- The E-score starts at 10.0. Judges deduct for form, technique, execution and landing.
As with other apparatus, the D-score and E-score are added together for the gymnast's final mark.
There are several acts that completely invalidate the vault and result in a score of 0. These include receiving spotting (assistance) from a coach, going before the signal and not using the U-shaped safety mat for Yurchenko-style vaults.
An inquiry into a gymnast's score can be initiated if it was felt that the score was too low. Only the D-score can be contested, however.
Skills: Every acrobatic and dance element was awarded a specific difficulty rating, ranging from A (easiest) to “Super E” (hardest) in the Table of Elements. A gymnast earned bonus points by performing difficult skills alone or in combination.
Required elements: Routine composition was decided by the gymnast and his or her coaches, however, on every apparatus except vault there was a list of required elements (similar to the EGR in the new Code) that had to be performed during the routine. Examples of required elements included 360 degree turns on balance beam and a backwards salto (somersault) on floor exercise.
Base score: The base score was the default Start Value of the routine, provided the gymnast fulfilled all required elements. This changed over the years and tended to lower as the codes went on. For instance, for the 1992-1996 code, a base score of 9.4 was awarded if all of the basic elements were fulfilled. For the 1996-2000 code, the base score was a 9.0. Finally, a base score of 8.8 was awarded for the 2000-2004 Olympic years. Before the new code, the base score again dropped to an 8.6 but this was not adopted for a very long time (only 2005-2006).
Start Value: The Start Value (SV) of each routine was determined by adding the base score to the bonus points earned from performing difficult elements and combinations. Ideally, a gymnast wanted to have an SV as close to 10.0 as possible.
On vault, every vault was assigned a specific Start Value in the Code.
The score was determined by subtracting any deductions for poor form, execution, steps, falls or other infractions from the SV.
- International Gymnastics Federation. "2017–2020 Code of Points: Women's Artistic Gymnastics" (PDF).
- "FIG considers gymnastics rules changes" Archived 2008-04-13 at the Wayback Machine Associated Press, September 24, 2004
- "Dasha's near miss" Herald Sun, October 21, 2006
- "Scoring changes in gymnastics studied" Nancy Armour, Associated Press, April 28, 2005
- "Champions rally against Code International Gymnast, April 14, 2005
- 2006 Report of the FIG's Athletes' Commission International Gymnastics Federation, 2006
- Code of Points Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine International Gymnastics Federation, 2006-2008
- "Artistic gymnastics judging" Archived 2008-04-22 at the Wayback Machine NBC Olympics
- "USA Gymnastics | FIG Elite/International Scoring". usagym.org. Archived from the original on 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
- Federation Internationale de Gymnastique the official website of the FIG.
- 2013 – 2016 Code of Points - Trampoline Gymnastics at the official website of the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG)