Sports & Games

What Is the Code of Points in Gymnastics? Learn How Scoring Works in Gymnastics

Written by MasterClass

Aug 27, 2019 • 4 min read

When viewers watch women’s gymnastics during the Olympic games, they may be enthralled by the athleticism and artistry of the competitors—and yet, it may not be readily obvious which gymnasts are better than others. Olympic judges, on the other hand, have a well-regulated scoring system for determining which gymnasts rise to the top of the competitive ranks.

This system is known as the FIG Code of Points, created by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), the organization that oversees World Championships and the Olympics.



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What Is the Code of Points in Gymnastics?

Gymnasts are judged by the Code of Points, a rule book that outlines the point values of various skills.

A gymnast’s final score is calculated from a start value, where the gymnast begins with the highest possible score and then has points deducted for elements that may have been lacking in her routine. A technical committee of judges determines these deductions.

In the past, FIG’s scores used to have a maximum value of 10—you’ve probably heard the expression “a perfect 10.” But in 2006, FIG altered its system to factor the difficulty of skills and routines into its scores.

How Does the Code of Points Work?

These days, the total score for a gymnast’s routine is actually the sum of two scores: the Difficulty Score (D) and the Execution Score (E).

  • The Difficulty Score reflects the total difficulty value (DV) of skills plus the connection value (CV) and compositional requirements (CR). Two judges make up the D Panel. Each judge independently determines his or her Difficulty Score, and then the two judges must come to a consensus.
  • The Execution Score rates the performance in terms of execution and artistry. The Execution Score is determined by six judges on the E Panel. The score begins at 10, and deductions for errors in execution, technique, or artistry are subtracted from this baseline. Judges separately determine their scores for a routine, the highest and lowest scores are dropped, and the average of the remaining four scores becomes the final Execution Score.

When you’re creating and executing a routine, familiarize yourself with the Code of Points that relates to your level of competition and the organization within which you’re competing. That way, you can make sure your routine is designed to achieve maximum points for your skill range and that you hit all the requirements.

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What Is the Compulsory Score?

The compulsory score in gymnastics is based on the performance of a specific routine that all amateur gymnasts must learn to be judged against one another. Compulsory routines vary depending on what official level a gymnast is competing at. These levels range in difficulty from Level 1 (the simplest) through Level 5 (the most challenging).

Depending on a gymnast’s level, the compulsory score may consist of routines involving:

What Is the Optional Score?

The optional score in competitive gymnastics is based upon routines that the gymnast designs to showcase his or her own strengths. In a gymnast’s optional floor exercise routine, the choice of music and choreography lets a competitor’s personality shine through.

How Are Gymnasts Selected for the U.S. National Team?

USA Gymnastics has produced a remarkable line of champions, from Mary Lou Retton to Keri Strug to Dominique Dawes to more recent champions like Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. But when it comes to winning gold medals, the most decorated American woman gymnast is Simone Biles, who won four golds and one bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games.

So how are members selected for the American national team? There are a number of ways. For example:

  • In women’s gymnastics, the 2020 U.S. National Team will be selected through a series of tryout events, most notably the 2020 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Championships, held in June 2020. This event will be followed by the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, held later the same month in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • However, there are other ways for gymnasts to qualify, such as posting elite scores in the NCAA national championships, a national championship for student-athletes.


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4 Perfect 10s in Gymnastics History

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Traditionally, the highest attainable score in artistic gymnastics was a perfect 10. This is because, up until 2006, a competitive gymnast began a routine with a start value of 10 and then had points deducted over the course of their routine.

At select moments in history, certain male and female gymnasts have achieved a perfect 10, where the technical committee judging them saw literally no cause to deduct a point from their score. These gymnasts include:

  1. Nadia Comăneci, who scored seven perfect 10s at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
  2. Nadia Comăneci yet again, scoring two more perfect 10s at the 1980 Games in Moscow.
  3. Li Ning, who scored five perfect 10s at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
  4. Julianne McNamara, who scored five perfect 10s in Los Angeles in 1984.

In 2006, the FIG changed its code of points, and the top score varies by event. As such, when Simone Biles dominated the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, her scores included a 16.050 on the vault, a 15.733 on the floor exercise, and a 15.633 on the balance beam.

Whether you’re just starting out on the floor or dreaming big about going professional, gymnastics is as challenging as it is rewarding. At 22, Simone Biles is already a gymnastics legend. With 14 medals, including 10 gold, Simone is the most decorated World Championship American gymnast of all time. In Simone Biles’s MasterClass on gymnastics fundamentals, she breaks down her techniques for the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor. Learn how to perform under pressure, practice like a champion, and claim your competitive edge.

Want to become a better athlete? From training regimens to mental preparedness, learn everything you need to enhance your athletic abilities with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain exclusive access to video lessons taught by world champions, including Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, World No. 1-ranking tennis player Serena Williams, and six-time NBA All-Star Stephen Curry.



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