Have you ever thought about becoming a gymnastics judge ? There’s no time like the present! I’ve discussed how to become a gymnastics judge in the article below, as well as discussed the pros and cons of becoming a gymnastics judge. However, the biggest “pro” of becoming a judge is joining the wonderfully accepting gymnastics community!
Pros of Becoming a Gymnastics Judge:
Judging Gymnastics is a Great Way to Be Involved in the Sport
If you are a former gymnast looking for a way to stay involved with gymnastics after your career is over, judging is a great option. Or if you’re a parent and your gymnast’s career is over, but your interest in the sport is not. If you are a gymnastics coach and are looking to make extra money, judging is a great way to do that while also giving you an added perspective that helps with your coaching.
You Get Paid
The hourly rate for judging gymnastics is good. You can look at the gymnastics judging pay rates here by rating (level of test you have passed).
Gymnastics Judges Pay Rating Hourly Rate Level 5/6 $15.14 Level 7/8 $17.30 Level 5/6 & 7/8 $19.47 Level 9 $23.79 Level 10 $27.04
*information taken from the 2012-2013 Rules & Policies. There are higher pay rates for National & Brevet judges but for the sake of simplicity I excluded them from this table.
Judging Gymnastics is Fun
Judging gymnastics can definitely be fun. You get to sit and watch routines all day and sometimes see some great gymnastics. You might be surprised at how beautiful even a lower level routine can be. An awesome split leap is just as awesome when done by a 7 year old level 5 gymnast as it is when an Olympian performs one.
You will Meet Great People
Because you are normally judging with the same judges from your state over and over again, you become close and will make some great friendships. Judges are required to try to carpool to meets out of town, and judges also sleep two to a hotel room at meets (same-sex only). Carpooling and sharing a hotel room will give you lots of opportunity to get to know each other and form friendships. You also get to know the coaches and gym owners in the area and basically become a part of a community of kindred spirits, all passionate about the sport.
Cons of Being a Gymnastics Judge:
High Start Up Costs
There are many start up costs for becoming a gymnastics judge and they can add up fast. Many states have programs to help mitigate these costs (you can contact your State Judging Director to inquire). You will need to buy the books, purchase a USA gymnastics professional membership, purchase a NAWGJ membership, pay for your tests, and buy a uniform. Plus if you choose to go to a congress or clinic in order to learn the material there is a cost for that. Most states let you wear plain navy pants or a skirt and a white blouse for a year before they require you to buy the uniform, so that can help. Sometimes you can purchase used uniforms from other judges.
Gymnastics Meets are On Weekends
Gymnastics meets are always on weekends (other than some high-school meets) so if you want to judge gymnastics you will have to be willing to give up your weekends a couple times a month. If the gym meet is out of town you will be giving up your whole weekend. Some gym meets are in town but even for those, don’t count on getting out of the gym very early. They can run late on both Saturday and Sunday nights preventing you from doing anything else.
You Don’t Get Paid for all the Hours You Are at the Gym Meet
You get paid for the amount of time you are actually judging the sessions. You might get paid for some of the break time of a meet if there is quite a lot of break time, but you will definitely not get paid for all of it. Travel time is not paid, and can be significant.
Scheduling is Usually done Based on Seniority
The amount you will get put on the schedule as a new judge varies depending on the state and how many active judges they have. You could be put in a situation where you are trying to recoup your start up costs and you don’t get put on the schedule very frequently as a new judge. However, some states are desperate for judges and in those states you will be able to work as much as you would like to. This is something you could ask your State Judging Director.
Retesting Every 4 Years
Once you have passed your first round of tests and have become a judge, testing is not over! Judges must retest every 4 years for optional and every 8 years for compulsory ratings.
Continuing Education & In Gym Time
Judges are required to do continuing education, volunteer and have in gym practice time in order to stay current. This time is not paid, and sometimes requires you to pay for clinics or conferences. Conferences can be fun (you get to hang out with your judging friends!) so this is not always a con. Also some states have programs to help mitigate continuing education costs.
Steps to Becoming a Gymnastics Judge:
Here are the steps you should follow in order to become a gymnastics judge. You will need to learn the information, test, sign up for a USA Gymnastics Pro Membership and a NAWGJ membership and then contact your State Judging director to be put on the schedule.
Get the Books & Learn the Information
Get the books and learn the routines and rules. More learning is involved if you don’t have experience with gymnastics. You might want to go to a clinic to learn since it can be confusing at first. To test compulsory levels (currently 5/6 but soon to be 4/5) you will need to order the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Compulsory Handbook. To test levels 7/8 (but soon to be 6/7/8) you will need to order the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic Code of Points. For both levels you will need a copy of USA Gymnastic’s Women’s Rules & Policies. These can be ordered from the USA Gymnastics online store. You can request a free copy of the Rules & Policies if you are a professional member.
You will need to start by testing levels 4/5 to become a Compulsory judge or you can start by testing levels 6/7/8 to become an optional only judge. (Learn the difference betwen compulsory and optional gymnastics here.) The gymnastics Compulsory season is frequently in the fall /winter and the Optional season in the winter/spring. I would suggest testing both Compulsory and Optional as a beginner judge so you can judge more meets. By testing for Compulsory and Optional you will also be able to judge high school gymnastics (where that is an option) and the Xcel program. There are a couple exceptions where you wouldn’t have to start at the entry levels (if you were an Elite gymnast or coach); you can learn about the exceptions here. You will need to be at least 16 years old to take the entry Compulsory and Optional tests. States will arrange for local tests. Tests are also given at national, regional and state clinics and congresses. Here is a master test schedule from the USA Gymnastics website.
Become a USA Gymnastics Professional Member
If you are 16 you can get a Junior Pro Membership, but if you are 18 or older you need the normal USA Gymnastics Professional Membership. A professional membership is $84 a year. In order to get a professional membership you will need to get safety certified and have a background check performed. The first step is to apply for a professional membership. First time applicants must print and mail in a form. Once your membership has been processed then you can get safety certified and have a background check completed. You can get safety certified by taking an online course or a live course. The online course takes 4-5 hours to complete and is much more convenient than the live course. The online course costs $65 for members; the live course is $70 for new members. However, if you are re-certifying before your safety certification expires a live course is cheaper (only $5). Safety certification needs to be renewed every 4 years. Head over here to get your background check performed. You must be re-screened every 2 years.
Become a National Association of Women’s Gymnastics Judging Member (NAWGJ)
Every judge needs to be a NAWGJ member. This is $60 a year. You can head over here to the NAWGJ website to join.
Contact your State Judging Director (SJD)
You will need to contact your state judging director to be put on the schedule–head over here to find your SJD by region or state. You will need to give them your test results and your USA gymnastics professional membership number.
Costs of Becoming a Gymnastics Judge
|Requirement||Cost||Recurring or One Time|
|USA Gymnastics Professional Membership||$84||Once a Year|
|USA Gymnastics Safety Certification||$65||Once every 4 years|
|USA Gymnastics Background Check||$21.25||Once every 2 years|
|NAWGJ Membership||$60||Once a Year|
|Book: USA Gymnastics Compulsory||$29.99||Once every 4 years|
|Book: Gymnastics Junior Olympic Code of Points||$29.99||Once every 4 years|
|Judging Test||$30/part||Every time you test- at least once every 4 years|
|Uniform: Jacket||$164.83||One Time|
|Uniform: Skirt||$52.25||One Time (and you only really need either the skirt or pants)|
|Uniform: Pants||$85.50||Every time you test- at least once every 4 years|
This cost table for becoming a gymnastics judge does not include any clinics or congresses you choose to go to in order to learn the material. It doesn’t include any additional judging aids you choose to buy or any travel costs. You will probably have to travel to clinics or congresses in addition to traveling to your test location. These costs can add up depending on where you live and if you have to spend the night in a hotel. Some states have programs where you can volunteer at meets and gain credit towards paying costs, others have different ways to help. Contact your state’s SJD for more information.
As you can see there are some great pros to becoming a gymnastics judge–its fun, you meet some great people while earning some extra money, and it’s a great way to be involved with gymnastics. But there are also some cons in that it can be time consuming and the start-up costs are high. However, I hope this doesn’t deter you from becoming a gymnastics judge because I truly believe it’s worth it! So, Good Luck! and I hope I’ve been given you some helpful information on how to become a gymnastics judge. For more information about how judges score routines, check out Gymnastics Scoring: 10 Minute Guide to How it Works.