Looking back at videos from the past Olympic Games, it’s easy to have feelings of nostalgia.  Many remember sitting in front of the TV, watching flawless routines from such gymnasts Nadia Comaneci, Kerri Strug, and Mary Lou Retton, and dreaming of a future in the sport of gymnastics.

So much has changed in the sport: competition apparel, style of dance, skill level. One of the biggest differences you will see, besides the level of difficulty, is the scoring system. You may have seen recent competitions and noticed that the scores look different, but either continued to watch despite not knowing what it is, or just didn’t pay to attention. It has been in place since 2006. So, what is the new scoring system?

The Old System:
On every event, each skill was given a rank of A (easiest) to I (hardest), based on difficulty. Every routine started at a certain base score. In the 1992-1996 code, the base score was set to 9.4, and gymnasts could combine certain skills of a specific difficulty to create bonus points, in hopes of having a start value closest to 10.0. In the 1996-2000 code, the base score was lowered to a 9.0, and again lowered to an 8.8 in the 2000-2004 Olympic years. The base score was lowered one more time to an 8.6, but was only adopted for 2005-2006. After your acquired bonus points were added to the base score, that number would become your new start value. Example: Base score of 9.4 + 0.6 in bonus points = 10.0 start value. Deductions from the routine, such as bent legs or unpointed toes, would then be deducted from the start value, and your final score was determined.

The Old System was easy to understand because it was known that everyone was striving for a perfect 10.0!

perfect 10

The New System:
A score is divided into two parts: difficulty and execution. The difficulty score includes the previous “start value” such as in the old system. This includes your values for the ten most difficult skills in the routine, including the dismount. The execution score starts from a 10.0 and deductions are taken away for errors in the routine in artistry and composition.

  • Difficulty Score
    Difficulty: (4C=4 x .3, 4D=4 x .4, 2E-2 x .5) +3.8 points
    Element groups (5 x 0.5) +2.5 points
    Connection value^ +0.6 points
    -Total Difficulty Score 6.9 points
  • Execution Score:
    Base start 10 points
    Deductions & Execution -0.7 points
    Composition/artistry -0.3 points
    Total Execution Score 9.0 points

-Final score = 6.9 + 9.0 = 15.9 points

(From www.usagym.org)




The scores above are from the Visa Championships in 2005.



The scores above are from the P&G Championships in 2016.

As you can see, the scoring system has changed. The difficulty of the skills performed in gymnastics is only increasing, as clearly shown by Simone Biles amazing tumbling passes on the floor exercise. This Olympics, when you see a score of 15.5 or 14.75, you now know how it works! Remember, if you’re watching Simone and Gabby get some amazing scores but are still confused, check back to the blog to see exactly the breakdown! Happy watching!