The rule books for the Junior Olympic gymnastics program and for the Xcel gymnastics program were updated for the new quadrennium (2018-2022). Most of the rules and values of skills stayed the same but there are some changes. I have outlined some of the biggest changes below that will affect gymnasts and coaches. GymnasticsHQ’s Skill Progression Charts have been redesigned and updated to reflect the changes in the rules.
One of the biggest changes to the rules for 2018 is the addition of new vaults. It’s obvious that USA Gymnastics is trying to encourage vaults different than just the handspring vault. They have added a new Tsukahara progressive vault to Xcel Silver, and 2 additional “timer” vaults as Level 6, 7 Vaults. Previously these vaults would be done as progressions to learn the bigger skill, but not competed. Now with gymnasts able to compete them, they can spend more time mastering these progressions.
New Xcel Silver Vaults
Previously in Xcel Silver, you could do either a jump to the vault table, kick to handstand flat back, or a handspring flat back over the table. Now these are your two options:
- Handspring over sideways mat stack
- Jump to 90°-180° turn onto sideways mat stack, block off to feet landing facing towards the mat stack
- Round-off Entry (Yurchenko) over the Vault Table to land on mat stack on your feet facing vault table
- 1/4 to 1/2 Twist on to Table (Tsukahara entry), to land on mat stack facing vault table
- Handspring Vault
Vaults 1 & 2 will have very different rules for the execution of them than we have seen before. Judging of the vault will end when the gymnast’s feet hit the mat stack. The exception to this is if the gymnast under rotates and steps forward, those steps will be a deduction. If the gymnast has a lot of power and steps backward, no deduction will be taken. Any movement backward (backward roll, backward steps, fall to the back) is OK and will not receive deductions. The gymnast just must return to a stand and salute the judge.
Split Leap can be a “B” on Beam
Another change is that now a split leap can be a “B” on beam. In order for it to be a “B,” the gymnast needs to have completely straight legs. So now both a split jump and a split leap are “B”s on beam. Before the split jump was a “B” and the split leap an “A”.
Level 6 Got Harder
- Level 6’s have to cast higher on bars. Now they must cast to a minimum of 45° above horizontal on bars to avoid deductions, whereas before it was just to horizontal.
- On Bars, they have to do a salto dismount. Before they just had to do an “A” dismount, so they could do either an underswing or sole circle.
- On Beam, Level 6’s now have to do either a non-flight acro series or one acro flight skill. Before they just had to do one acro skill (flight or non-flight).
- On Beam, Level 6’s now also have to do an aerial or salto dismount. Before they just had to do an “A” valued dismount.
- In their 3 skill acro series on Floor, there have to be 2 skills with flight. Before there was no requirement for flight.
Gold Beam Angle Requirement got Bigger
On beam, Xcel Gold‘s must do a split leap or jump with a minimum of a 120° split instead of the 90° that was required previously.
Increased Concentration Pause Deduction
The deduction used to be a flat .1 for each concentration pause before difficult skills or connections of more than 2 seconds. Now if you pause for 2 seconds the deduction will be .1, if you pause longer it will be .2.
So you can’t just hang out before your big skill without a deduction 😉
Level 8, 9, 10 Composition Requirements got more Specific
In an effort to reward gymnasts that do harder skills, the composition requirements for Level 8, 9 and 10 got more specific. Previously the .2 deduction for not performing skills up to your competitive level was vague and up to the judges’ discretion. Now it is specifically spelled out in the JO Code of Points.
For example, as a Level 8 on beam, you need to do an acro series with 2 “B” flight skills and two additional acro skills with one of them a “B” acro skill to not receive any deduction. If you only do 2 additional acro skills but both of them are “A”s, or you do just one additional acro skill that is a “B,” you will get a .05 deduction.
Coaches will really have to pay more attention to the skills they put in Level 8, Level 9 and Level 10 routines to ensure the gymnast doesn’t get composition deductions. Gymnasts will have to make sure they can do enough difficult skills to go in their routines to not receive these deductions.
Level 10’s can get .1 Bonus on top of 10 Start Value
In another move to reward gymnasts that do more difficult skills, Level 10’s can earn a .1 bonus for doing very difficult skills that is not included in the start value. So while the max score a gymnast can receive remains a 10.0, this will help gymnasts that do harder skills earn higher scores.
The additional .1 bonus can be earned on vault by doing harder vaults that have a .1 bonus value. On bars, beam and floor, gymnasts can earn this .1 bonus for connections and for performing “D”/”E” valued skills.
Those are the bigger changes that were made in the rules for the new 2018-2022 quadrennium. For more information about the skills you need in your routines, you can check out the level requirements and my skill progression charts.