Especially for Emeth Girls Team parents ~ Written by Heather Leshovsky

Gymnastics competitions are fun to watch, but we also know it can also be frustrating when you don’t understand how scoring works! Judging is a very complex process. Becoming certified as a judge for women’s gymnastics requires an intense amount of studying, memorization, testing, experience, and continued education. Judges are ranked at Level 4/5, Level 6/7/8, Level 9, Level 10, National, and Brevet. A judge’s rank determines which level gymnasts they are permitted to judge. Their hourly pay is determined by USA Gymnastics according to what rank they are. By the time a judge is trying for their Level 9 rank, it is not uncommon for them to fail the testing needed to move up in rank several times before succeeding. The majority of judges that you see at the competitions we attend and who are scoring your daughter are ranked as Level 10 or higher!

That being said, we hope you will be patient and trusting at the times when you do not understand the scores that are given out, and respectfully realize that in most cases the judge is applying deductions accurately. It takes many, many years of personal experience in this sport to have the understanding and the trained eye that is required to comprehend how every part of the scoring works. There are, however, some simple explanations listed here that we hope will give you a basic understanding of how it works!

Please note: The explanations below are in regards to the scoring system which is used for “Optional” levels. This includes all Xcel levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond) as well as Junior Olympic levels 6-10. The “Compulsory” levels of the Junior Olympic program, levels 2-5, have somewhat different rules in their scoring which are not outlined in this handout. This is because currently our team does not compete in these “compulsory” levels.

Start Value

The “Start Value” of a routine is the score that a gymnast begins with. When a gymnast’s start value is a 10.0, this means that all the special requirements and value parts that are required for their level were present in the routine. All deductions that a gymnast receives on their performance are taken from their start value, which results in their final score. Usually the start value is displayed at the judges table right at the end of each routine where coaches can see it clearly. Occasionally start value is displayed on digital scoring displays as well.

  • Special Requirements: On every event (except for vault), there are four ‘Special Requirements’ that must be included in the gymnast’s routine. Each of these requirements is worth 0.5. If a gymnast is missing one of their special requirements, 0.5 is deducted from their start value. (Example: If a gymnast included three of her special requirements but failed to perform the fourth one, her start value becomes a 9.5 rather than a 10.0)
    • Value Parts: Every skill in gymnastics has an assigned value. Beginner level skills are “A”. More advanced skills are “B”. Values continue to increase to C, D, E, etc. as the difficulty of the skill is higher. In each level, there is a set number of value parts required. For example, in Xcel Gold a gymnast is required to have 5 A’s present in the routine. In Level 9, the gymnast is required to have 3 A’s, 4 B’s, and one C in the routine. “A” value parts are worth 0.1, “B” value parts are worth 0.3, and “C” value parts are worth 0.5. If a gymnast is missing one of the value parts required for her level, it comes off her Start Value. (Example: If a Gold gymnast only has four A’s present in her routine, she is missing one A – and her start value goes down to a 9.9 rather than a 10.0)


  • Optional Composition: All the levels we compete in are “optional” in nature, meaning that it is up to us which skills, music, and choreography we use to put together the routine. You will see a variety of different skills used from gymnast to gymnast, and especially from team to team. As long as the skills are meeting the criteria, the start value is a 10.0. There are many ways to accomplish this, and we do our best to choose skills that each gymnast can do well so as not to receive more deductions than necessary!



Execution Deductions

Execution deductions are the points a judge deducts based on how correctly each skill is performed. For every single value part that is done, there are specific deductions available, including:

  • Bad foot form:        0.05 for each foot
  • Bent legs:        Up to 0.3
  • Legs apart:        Up to 0.2
  • Fall:            0.5
  • Receiving spot:    0.5 + no value part credited for the element that was spotted
  • Wobbles:        Up to 0.3
  • Angles:        Up to 0.3 for not achieving the angle that is expected
  • Steps on landing:    0.1 for every step taken on a landing that is not “stuck”
  • Body shape:        Up to 0.3 for not showing the correct body shape in any given skill


Artistry Deductions

Artistry deductions apply to beam and floor. Judges are looking for things like amplitude, expression, maturity, confidence, and personal style on these events in the way that the gymnast performs her routine. Specific deductions are used when a gymnast fails to demonstrate these qualities.


Neutral Deductions

Neutral deductions are flat deductions that are applied to the score by the head judge before the score is official. For example, there is a neutral deduction of 0.1 for any gymnast whose beam or floor routine goes over the time limit that applies to her level. If the score for a gymnast who just competed on beam is a 9.0, but she went overtime, the head judge applies the 0.1 neutral deduction to the score, which officially makes it an 8.9.


At all levels except for Levels 9 and 10, bonus points are not needed or given. Athletes start at a 10.0 as long as they have fulfilled all their special requirements and performed the amount of value parts required for their level. At Level 9 and 10, however,  athletes need to earn bonus points in order for their routines to be at a 10.0 start value.

In Level 9, if all Special Requirements and Value Parts are fulfilled, the athlete’s Start Value is 9.7. She must earn a total of 0.3 in bonus in order to make her Start Value a 10.0. The Level 9 athlete may earn bonus by performing certain connections of higher Value Part skills.

In Level 10, if all Special Requirements and Value Parts are fulfilled, the athlete’s Start Value is 9.5. She must earn a total of 0.5 in bonus in order to make her Start Value a 10.0. The Level 10 athlete may earn connection bonus by performing certain connections of higher Value Part skills, and she can also earn difficulty bonus by including a “D” or “E” Value Part in her routine. “D” value part earns her 0.1 bonus and “E” value part earns her 0.2 bonus. A Level 10 is not permitted to earn all 0.5 of her bonus solely by connection bonus or difficulty bonus – she must have a combination of both types of bonus in order to reach her 10.0 Start Value.

An athlete’s Start Value is never permitted to go above 10.0.


Final Score

A gymnast’s final score is calculated by determining her start value and then subtracting all other applicable deductions from that. (Execution, artistry, neutral, etc.) When there is a double judge panel, each judge determines their final score independently, and then those two scores are averaged to result in the official score.


Vault Scoring

In most cases, the gymnast is permitted to vault two times. The judges determine the official score for each vault. The higher scoring vault is used as the gymnast’s official score.

There are no “Special Requirements” or “Value Parts” on vault, unlike all the other events. Instead, each vault has its own assigned Start Value.

At the beginner levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) each level has some limited options of what vault they may perform. There is a vault for each level that has a 10.0. There is also a more basic version of the vault at each level that we can choose to compete which have start values of either 9.0 or 9.5.

At the intermediate levels of vault (Platinum, Level 6 and 7), there are several options for which vault the athlete is permitted to perform. These include a Front Handspring over the table along with other basic variations of that same vault that involve some twisting. All vaults at these levels have a Start Value of 10.0.

At the advanced levels of vault (Diamond, Level 8, 9, and 10), there are many different vaults permitted. These still include the option for a Front Handspring over the table, but there are also options to do “flipping” vaults and higher level twisting vaults. Start Values range according to the difficulty of the vault and the expectation of the level. For example, in Level 8 a Front Handspring has a 9.0 Start Value, a tucked Tsukahara or Yurchenko has a 9.8 Start Value, and a piked Tsukahara or Yurchenko has a 10.0 Start Value.

New in 2015-2016 for Level 8 only: The Level 8 gymnast, just like athletes in other levels, is permitted to compete two vaults. If, however, she elects to compete a second vault, the score of the first vault becomes null and void. The score of the second vault will be used regardless of whether it was lower or higher than the first.

Execution deductions are taken in all phases of the vault. These are subtracted from the vault’s start value to calculate the final score.


Skill Selection

Skill selection is the task of coaches and athletes choosing which skills to include in their routines. We do our best to choose skills that are mastered well enough that they will receive minimal amounts of deductions, but to balance that with the need to continue challenging our gymnasts with skills that will help them advance and allow them to have a certain amount of say in what skills they want to compete. The ability of a gymnast to be involved in choosing the skills she competes grows as she becomes more experienced and mature in her gymnastics training.

Individual Scoring and Placing

Gymnasts are placed individually among all the other girls who competed in her level and age group. This is done for each event as well as for All Around. (All Around score is all event scores added together).

Team Scoring and Placing

The team score is typically determined by taking the top three scores on each event in a level and adding them together. This puts all teams on an “even” playing field, regardless of how many girls each team may have in that level.