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The 2021 Summer Olympics are finally here, and we literally can’t wait to see the U.S. Gymnastics team absolutely break them. This year’s squad includes a group of star athletes, including legendary Simone Biles, as well as Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner. And while you don’t need to know all the rules and regulations to appreciate their incredible skills and athleticism, that doesn’t mean that non-gymnasts don’t want to learn the details about scoring – it does mean. nor do we not deserve in-depth technical analysis from commentators.

TV coverage of the 2016 Olympics was actually criticized for its lack of information on specific gymnastics rules (the New Yorker wrote an entire article on this) – especially after NBC’s marketing director for Olympics, John Miller, said of female viewers, “They’re less interested in the outcome and more interested in the trip. It’s kind of like the ultimate reality show and the miniseries put together in one. ”

Uh. No to that. Again, you don’t need to have a doctorate in score accounting to enjoy gymnastics, but it definitely helps to know what’s going on. After all, there’s a lot more to a floor routine than just sticking it out. Every move counts, and fans want to know exactly what the judges are thinking when deciding who wins gold! Hopefully this year’s commentators will do a better job with the technical details, but until then, here are some facts to keep in mind as we head into the 2021 Olympics.

Jamie Squire.

The point system, in brief

Kay, so let’s break it down real quick. Gymnastics scores have two components: a difficulty score, aka the D score (which starts at zero points, then the value of all skills and combinations in a routine is added), and an execution score, aka the E score (which starts at 10, then points for errors like wobbles or falls are deducted). For example, a gymnast with a D score of 5.5 and an E score of 9.1 would get a total score of 14.6. In theory, the scores can be infinite as the difficulty score has no limit, but scores in the fifteen range are considered good and scores in the sixteen are considered unbelievable.

TL; DR: The final score = difficulty score + execution score – penalties.

A note on penalties …

Also called “neutral deduction”, the penalties are deducted from the total score (difficulty + execution) and include things which, according to the “Code of Points”, have nothing to do with the difficulty or appearance of the gymnast during. his journey. routine. An example of a penalty? Go out of bounds or exceed the time limit on the floor or beam.

There are three groups of judges

Panel D judges the difficulty score, panel E judges the execution score and panel R (or reference panel) acts as a check on the scores of the other judges.

There are four different devices in the competition

It would be the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise (the most fun to watch, IMHO).


The skills are grouped into difficulty levels which are worth different points

The eight most difficult skills are counted (including exit) and each has a different point value.

It’s not just the skills that matter, it’s how they are combined

When certain skills are performed one after the other, gymnasts can automatically earn additional fractions of points. That’s why you always hear reviewers saying things like “great combination!” This means that the gymnast earns significant bonus points for how well he has chained a series of skills.

Playing the point system is completely legal

Part of the reason the USA team scored so high in 2016 is because coach Márta Károlyi studied the code of points so hard. In some cases, as The New Yorker explained, a gymnast may score more points for doing harder moves imperfectly than for doing easier moves perfectly. If you really want to stand out, you can read the Code of Points here.

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The smallest things matter

In 2016, the New Yorker noted that the reason Simone Biles didn’t get a perfect score on the Amanar (a jumping skill) was because of the tiniest and smallest flaw – she crossed her toes. .

So, what if a gymnast invents a movement?

I already know, like Simone Biles did? Singles: The International Gymnastics Federation must give it an official difficulty score. A stroke is not named after you until you become the first to perform it successfully in a competition, but the FIG is required to give it a difficulty value in advance. (Biles is a G-level skill, or 0.7 points.)

Some movements are illegal

Because most of the time they are considered too dangerous. Examples include the Korbut flip and the Thomas Salto. Simone Biles told Vogue’s 73 Questions that she stays away from such moves because, well, “[they’re] illegal.”

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Points are deducted for picking a wedgie

It sounds wild, but it’s true. Nastia Liukin told People: “You are not allowed to [pick a wedgie] or else you are deducted. So many people use it as a sticky spray [called Tuf-Skin] for your buttocks so that your leotard does not move. I’ve never used it and know most girls don’t really use it… but if you fall and your leotard is pushing up your butt you don’t want to fix it in the middle of your routine. On the side, it’s quite good. ”

Vault scores are usually announced the fastest

Why? Because it is the fastest event. A typical jump takes around seven seconds, according to The Gymternet, compared to 90 seconds for a floor routine.

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Gymnasts can take a break when they fall from an apparatus

And they will not be penalized. Concretely, a 30 second break for the uneven bars and 10 seconds for the beam. They are also allowed to talk to their coaches during this time.

Their leotards literally have to be nice or they will lose points

The code of points specifies “a non-transparent sporty leotard or leotard (one-piece leotard with full length legs from hip to ankle), which shall be of an elegant design”. What exactly qualifies as “elegant” is not specified.

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All leotards are tailor-made for each athlete

Advertisers will all be talking about crystals. the. time, but they never talk about the cooler parts of the leotards, like the fact that they are all tailor-made for each gymnast and require several adjustments before competition.

Visible underwear leads to deductions

This is part of the reason why each athlete receives several fittings and a personalized leotard, with personalized bras and briefs.

It takes two years to design leotards

“There’s a lot of research and development going into it,” said Kelly McKeown, head of design at GK Elite. “It’s something you don’t want to rush. If you want to use a new technique, if you want to experiment, then you have to wear test it, you have to wash test it, you have to make sure that it is not going to fail on the competition floor. “

Leotards usually cover the arms, but not the legs

There is no rule against covering your legs, but McKeown told Cosmopolitan that when it does, people always notice and comment on it. “There is a lot of beauty that can be put into the arm of a leotard that is part of the setting when you move your arms and the design is so beautiful,” she said. “But I think it would be a bit too much to have their legs covered, and with all the somersaults they do, I don’t think they would ever want that.”

There is a strict rule without jewelry

Official rules (via Buzzfeed) state that female gymnasts are prohibited from wearing jewelry, except for small earrings.

There is an official gymnasts oath

It reads:

On behalf of all gymnasts, I promise that we will participate in their World Championships (or any other official FIG event) respecting and respecting the rules that govern them, committing ourselves to a sport free of doping and drugs. , in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of gymnasts.

There is a reason why you see similar elements in all routines

Each routine requires the performance of five specific types of skills. For example, on the beam, each gymnast does a line of two or three flips down the beam, as one of the requirements is an acrobatic series with a minimum of two elements of “flight” (i.e. – say flips).

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Music during floor routines cannot have words

This is why you usually hear classical music and why the Brazilian gymnast who used Beyoncé’s (instrumental) songs was particularly exciting.

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If a gymnast first does a jump on her buttocks …

Instead of getting up and then falling on your butt? She will get a zero.

You keep hearing about the Amanar because it’s one of the toughest chests

The gymnast circles the springboard, flips the jump by hand on the jump, then does a pirouette. (The Gymternet has an excellent chart of all the different types of jumps with their difficulty values.) In the Amanar, the flip is a backflip with 2 1/2 twists. Here’s the person who invented it while performing it at the Sydney Olympics:

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