The Gymnastics Xcel Program Explained

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The Gymnastics Excel Program Explained, Ever wonder what the Excel program is all about? Read this article to learn more.

The Xcel Program is a national USA Gymnastics program of gymnastics levels that runs alongside the Junior Olympic (JO) program. The Xcel program is a completely separate, alternate program.  Through the years we have spoken to a lot of parents who want help deciding whether their gymnast should compete in the Xcel program or switch to a gym that would have them compete in the traditional JO program. There are advantages and disadvantages to both programs, and some gyms choose to compete in it, while others don’t.

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is the gymnastics xcel program right for me

Some gyms see the Xcel program as an avenue for their less serious gymnasts to compete. Other gyms supplement their JO program with the Xcel program. While even other gyms focus on the Xcel program to produce well-rounded gymnasts, and then mobilize them through the compulsory levels.

gymnastics xcel levels

Many parents questions why their current gym would want their daughters to compete in the Xcel program. After talking to them, we’ve realized that it can be confusing why USA Gymnastics created the Xcel program. There are some definite advantages to it, along with some considerations, which we’ll detail below.

What is the Xcel Program?

The Xcel Program was created as a national program in 2013; some states had a similar program known as the Prep Optional program. However, the national Xcel program has more levels and spans a much greater level of ability than most states’ Prep Optional program. You can start competing at a lower skill level in the Xcel program, than you could previously.

There are five divisions in the Xcel program: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. All of the Xcel divisions have optional rules. You can read more about the difference between optional and compulsory here, but basically optional rules mean that there are only 4-5 routine requirements and each gymnast can have her routine choreographed for her personality and individual strengths and weaknesses. Whereas, in compulsory levels, the routine is already choreographed and every gymnast must perform the routine exactly the same. Because of that, the judging can be more strict and produce lower scores than what the gymnast may have in Xcel. With higher scores your gymnast may feel better and be more motivated to stick with the sport .

In the Junior Olympic program, the first Optional level is level 6, which is comparable in skill level to the hardest division in the Xcel program, the Diamond division. So without the Xcel program, a gymnast could be involved in the sport for years without ever getting to compete an individual, customized routine.

The Xcel Program Was Born

The Xcel program was created as a way to keep gymnasts involved and excited about the sport. If you think about most other sports, like for example soccer, as soon as kids join the sport they almost immediately start competing in games and tournaments. With gymnastics it wasn’t this way. Kids would join gymnastics and have to take classes for several years before they were invited to join a team program. The Xcel program allows gymnasts to start competing almost right away, by lowering the skill requirements for the entry levels. However, the Xcel program doesn’t just have basic entry levels. It also has more advanced levels that allow gymnasts to keep competing in the Xcel program as they learn more skills, but without the same pressure as competing in the JO program. The Xcel program is ideal for not only entry-level gymnasts, but also older gymnasts who are looking for a fun way to stay in shape and be involved in the sport. And since high school gymnastics programs sometimes use similar rules as Xcel, it can be a way to prepare gymnasts to try out for a high school gymnastics team.

The Xcel program is also for gymnasts who compete in the compulsory Jr. Olympic levels and would like to compete in an optional program during their “off” season. Compulsory meets are often in the fall, and there are usually some Xcel meets that are in the optional spring season.


gymnastics skill checklist


There are some advantages and disadvantages of the Xcel Program:


  • Gymnasts get to have fun competing sooner.  Gymnasts get to have fun competing with the Xcel program as soon as they join an Xcel team. They don’t have to wait to be invited to a JO team.
  • Gymnasts compete individual, personalized routines.  Most athletes would rather compete routines that are customized to their age, strengths, taste and personality. Is it more fun to do a floor routine to stuffy, instrumental music like in the compulsory program, or cute, fun music the gymnast has picked out? For example, an older gymnast could use a current hit song (without lyrics of course) as her floor music.
  • The Xcel Program can be less of a time commitment. The compulsory program can be unforgiving, with its routines that require gymnasts to learn an exact set of skills regardless of their strengths. Gymnasts can spend less time in the gym but still be able to learn skills that allow them to compete.
  • Gymnasts are not required to compete all four events. With the Xcel program, gymnasts are not required to compete all of the events. Gymnasts can specialize in one or two events and choose to not compete the others.
  • Entry fees are capped at Xcel meets to make it more affordable. 


  • There is no direct mobility from Xcel levels into the Jr Olympic Levels. Even if a gymnast has competed all the way through Diamond in the Xcel divisions, which would be similar to a level 7,  in order to compete at level 7 she must pass out of levels 4 (the lowest required competitive level) , 5 and 6. She can just compete in one meet at each level to mobilize, as long as she earns a minimum mobility score.
  • The Xcel Program doesn’t emphasize progressions the same way that the compulsory routines in the Jr Olympic program do. The JO compulsory program was created the way it was partly because it’s a system that has been proven to create great gymnasts. If your goal is to obtain a college scholarship, then the compulsory program is probably the best way to learn the proper progressions and discipline you need.

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Xcel Gymnastics Skill Requirements:

We’ve linked to the Xcel Gymnastics Skill Requirements for each Xcel level below. You can also check out GymnasticsHQ’s Skill Progression Checklists for Xcel Bronze & Silver, and Xcel Gold, Platinum and Diamond.

Xcel Bronze Requirements

Xcel Silver Requirements

Xcel Gold Requirements

Xcel Platinum Requirements

Xcel Diamond Requirements

Each gym and coach uses the Xcel program in their own way, and the program offers the flexibility to do so. Hopefully this information about the Xcel program can help you decide whether it is the right program for your gymnast.


Gymnastics Xcel Program Explained

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41 comments… add one
  • Gia Maioriello March 2, 2017, 7:27 pm

    could you recommend any gymnastics summer camps like overnight or all day?

    • Sarah Blair March 12, 2017, 7:36 pm

      One really good camp is Flip Fest in Tennessee. I’m going this summer and it’s so much fun!! Your gym may also have special team camps or overall gymnastics camps at your gym. Hope this helps!
      Flip Fest:

      • Tasha May 20, 2017, 9:19 am

        My daughter goes to the International Gymnastics Camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She had just finished competing Level 5, yet even scoring out her strength as Level 5 wasn’t enough. We were deciding whether to go to Level 6 or spend another year mastering the skills. We sent her to IGC for 1 week. She got to meet several olympians inclusing her favoeite – Courtney Kupet. With the training she received and her dedication in attending every open gym; she came back mastering her Level 5 and Level 6. So, when we returned she practiced with Level 7 and competed that year as a 7. All of this when 1 year. She placed 11th in State in her class and age. It is a little more expensive than the other camps out there but the coaches, olympians and dedication, it is well worth it. You won’t be disappointed. Level 8 – here we come.

      • Janie May 30, 2017, 1:25 pm

        C3 gymnastics has really fun summer camps. They do excel too.

  • gymnast March 27, 2017, 10:39 pm

    do you know any good gymnastics camps in Louisiana?

    • Tasha May 20, 2017, 9:24 am

      The University of Louisiana (LSU) has a summer camp. Was one of our considerations this year. We normally do just International ($1,195) (7 days overnight) in Philadelphia. Her favorites were LSU, Bama and Auburn; and of course Florida. We can only do 2. This year in International and University of Alabama ($650)(4 days).

  • Xcel gymnast April 8, 2017, 6:53 pm

    I joined Xcel at 10 years old I’ve competed for 1 season and when I’m at the gym I am not respected by the coaches or the J.O. Level girls because I’m in Xcel. If you are a gymnast joining the competitive team I highly recommend joining the J.O. Team if you have a choice. I have done non competitive gymnastics since 3 and I always wanted to be on team but now I feel like I am not respected as an Xcel athlete

    • Taylor July 24, 2017, 2:11 am

      I was Xcel, but I also trained with some J.O. ‘s, just because your gym i rude doesn’t mean every ones is. So dont tell people not to join Xcel just based on your experience.

    • Anonymous October 22, 2020, 9:19 pm

      Is your first name talia because I know a talia that had got treated badly at excel then left at level six, and I am wondering if you are her?

      • carly January 4, 2021, 9:42 pm

        Damn did Talia get busted

    • Maddy April 7, 2021, 5:48 pm

      I am in XL and I’ve been doing it for about two years it’s the same way my gym the jo coaches and girls are so rude to us

  • Cae April 10, 2017, 7:33 pm

    How old do you have to be to start Xcel? Does this t depend on your gym?

    • Megan Eisnor-Janosz April 20, 2017, 3:24 pm

      Yes this does depend on your gym and some gyms you do have to be invited and go through classes first others you don’t

  • Beatriz May 13, 2017, 2:48 pm

    I am so confused right now, my daughter just turned 5 and she was invited to JO level 2. I have read so many options and have talked to other parents. Some of my frienfs moved to different gyms and her friends’ moms chose Xcell and stayed in the same gym. I know my daughter loves gymnastics but the commitment is 7h a week for a future kindergarten makes me scared. I am not a savior on Gymnastics so I don’t want to rush her. She wants to show her routines to other people too. Ideas?

  • Janie May 30, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Is there any gyms in Pa thats have excel?

  • CiCi August 31, 2017, 3:02 pm

    Can a Xcel Gold gymnast move to J.O level 4?

  • KK April 2, 2018, 12:58 pm

    Yes they can

  • Lisa April 14, 2018, 12:09 am

    Can a 12 years old Xcel Gold gymnast move to J.O level 4?

  • CP July 17, 2018, 4:30 pm

    Hi – I just ordered the bundle of chart progressions -they look like a great resource! Is the info updated to show the new 2018-2022 guidelines? I think new ones are coming out for Xcel according to the USAG website. Thanks.

    • gymnasticshq July 18, 2018, 8:36 am

      Hi, yes I am anxiously awaiting the new rules to be published so I can update this information. I’m going to send you an email now about your bundle purchase.

  • Kate Gansneder March 25, 2019, 1:22 pm

    If you have an athlete that is at a Level 2 JO but has their double back-handspring and standing back tuck … but is lacking in some of the required beam skills, would you recommend they transition to the XCEL program?

    The athlete has scored within the 9s consistently on every apparatus at Level 2 and her lowest AA score was a 35.3. She has been practicing with the Level 4 group during move-up clinics, but again, her fear is holding her back from reaching the Level 4 required beam skills, and some of her skill surpasses the Level 3.

    Our gym is introducing the XCEL program for the next comp season and I’m torn on what to do for her. Her ultimate goal is collegiate, but she is 12 … and we don’t know if the XCEL would be a poor choice in pursuing the collegiate bid later. She only started lessons 7 months ago, and we know we have a lot of catch up to do – but I also know the routine “style” of XCEL is more appealing for her. We do private lessons and additional gym time on top of our current required practices already in hopes to gain those missing skills before team decisions are made for comp season over the summer.

    Help – what would you do, or what would you advise? Thank you!

    • gymnasticshq March 30, 2019, 3:32 pm

      Hi Kate,

      Typically gymnasts who pursue a collegiate path go through the J.O. program. The levels in Xcel don’t go as high as the J.O. program and in order to be college level material your gymnast needs to have achieved higher levels in the J.O. program (Level 10).

      However, at her age it can be difficult to be motivated to do compulsory routines. If she loves gymnastics and is doing it for pure joy then it might be fun to compete in the Xcel program. However, the fundamental skills she will learn in the J.O. compulsory program will set her up for more difficult skills in the future which she will need to succeed in college.

      Bottom line, she needs to assess if doing college level gymnastics is truly her ultimate goal and if so, then J.O. would be a better long term strategy, in our opinion. But at the same time, you want her to maintain her passion for gymnastics. So it’s a decision that has to be made keeping your daughter’s drive and motivation in mind.

  • Ally April 2, 2019, 12:39 am

    I know a gymnast that went from xcel gold to Jo and is really good! She never scored out at level 4 and 5. This was 2 years ago. Can she get in trouble?

  • Kami May 18, 2019, 12:20 pm

    If you want to start competing in gymnastics, is the XCEL program best for me?

    • Kae February 21, 2021, 5:18 pm

      Hi im Kae im 11 im in xcel gold. I did JO for 2 years. I personally would choose xcel. it is just so much more flexible!!

  • Silla July 21, 2019, 4:51 pm

    My daughter wants to go to USAG so bad. It’s her dream. She’s 8. Going to be promoted to Comets on trial then the plan is Xcel since they see potential. Is that just recteational? I’m confused.

    • Reni January 21, 2020, 8:07 pm

      Xcel is not recreational it is competitive like J.O. It is just not as rigorous.

  • Nicole November 1, 2019, 11:13 pm

    I want to start doing xcel, probably in either bronze or silver. i took some rec classes from the age of 6 to 11 but i quit and i was wondering if there were any programs near seattle, washington that don’t require invitation by coaches.

    • wertyu May 3, 2021, 11:29 am

      there are many gyms! emerald city, Seattle gymnastics academy, they also have gymnastics in the ymca that don’t require invitations.

  • Tequica Jackson November 17, 2019, 9:54 am

    I would like my daughter to start learning XCel

  • Sacha Snijders-Uiterwijk January 24, 2020, 11:03 am


    This will be the first year we would like to join competitions with the xcel program.

    I’m teaching in Aruba. So now I’m looking for international competitions with the xcel program.

    Is there some website where I can find all the international competitions. We would really like to to the xcel this year instead of the usag.

    Is there someone who can please help me.

  • Laura Mendoza August 7, 2020, 11:28 am

    My daughter is 7 years old she is in level 1 and she is moving to level 2 but the gym invites her to join the Exel program and I don’t know what to do because she loves gymnastics and we want to continue throughout college. The couche explain us that level 4 and 5 could be hard to move and gymnasts could spend a lot of time passing that levels. I feel that exel would keep her in a lower level than JO I want to make the best decision.

    • dojo January 4, 2021, 9:46 pm


  • june August 23, 2020, 3:56 am

    so my gym used to compete in the JO program until our program got shut down and we starting back up as a xcel program now. If am a level 5 gymnast and im going to do platinum. after i go all the way throught diamond, and wanted to back to JO, would I have to stay in level 5?

  • dojo January 4, 2021, 9:46 pm


  • carly January 4, 2021, 9:53 pm

    I’m 11, in Xcel silver, I want to compete in college, my coaches keep saying to my mom she’s a natural but she started late, I don’t know if I should switch from Xcel to jo. I have gymnastics practice tomorrow and I need to know if I should switch I also don’t know if I will make it in time to be in level 10 I’m depending on answers.

  • carly January 4, 2021, 9:53 pm

    I’m 11, in Xcel silver, I want to compete in college, my coaches keep saying to my mom she’s a natural but she started late, I don’t know if I should switch from Xcel to jo. I have gymnastics practice tomorrow and I need to know if I should switch I also don’t know if I will make it in time to be in level 10 I’m depending on answers.

  • kae February 21, 2021, 5:13 pm

    Hi I competed today and i was wondering what the score requirement is to change from xcel gold novice to gold open pls respond.
    Thank you

  • Kae February 21, 2021, 5:23 pm

    Hi! Im Kae. Im 11 y/o and i wanted to know what the score requirements are to move from Gold Novice to Gold Open/ Advanced.
    Thank you!!

  • Annie February 28, 2021, 5:25 pm

    My daughter is only 5 but wish ready to start competing. Is it okay to start with xcel of will it hold her up in the future?

  • Lucy March 1, 2022, 8:32 am

    When are tryouts

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