Discussing: Deductions


In this article, Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson talks about two different kinds of deductions in gymnastics and her opinions on them.

First of all, I’m going to discuss deductions on twisting form. Twisting elements on floor exercise have become increasingly difficult over the years as more and more twists are added. Back in the 1990’s, it was common to have a double twisting tumbling pass in a floor routine. Later on, 2 ½, triple, and 3 ½ twists were thrown into the mix. Nastia Liukin has even performed a quadruple twist!

As the difficulty skyrockets, the execution sometimes tends to lag behind. But judges can only take 0.10 off for form deductions.

Why can you only penalize bad twisting with 0.10 in deductions? To me, if the twisting isn’t tight and pretty, it spoils the entire pass and the flow of the routine. I know it is so hard to do the passes these gymnasts are doing, but I don’t think they should be sacrificing form for difficulty.

It isn’t good when a gymnast does a tumbling pass and you don’t even realize at first that it’s a twisting element they’re performing.

I propose taking away 0.30 for any crossed legs on twists, and 0.50 for the really noticeable form errors. At first, half a point seems like a lot to deduct. But on the uneven bars, if you’re not close to hitting a handstand, 0.50 can be taken away. It’s the same deduction for hitting your feet on the low bar. To me, those mistakes are on the same level as bad twisting form. At least judges can take up to half a point on bent knees, which is another large issue with tumbling passes.

I think that another issue with deductions nowadays has to do with the infamous unstuck landing.

For example, let’s say you were watching a brilliant balance beam routine. There’s hardly a wobble and the D-score is 6.2. The gymnast dismounts the apparatus and lands in a perfect position, but her foot makes the tiniest adjustment. Her score is 15.300. If it had only been a 15.400, she could have medaled in the Olympic beam final.

I believe that a shuffle shouldn’t be worth 0.10. A shuffle should be worth 0.025, a quarter of a tenth. A slight hop or step should be worth 0.10, and a large step should be 0.30.

Now, it could very well be difficult to determine what is a “shuffle step” and what is a “little step.” That’s where judging gets complicated. So I have an idea that could solve the problem.

Artistic gymnastics is supposed to be beautiful, but it isn’t very pretty when a gymnast lands a double pike dismount low off the beam and takes a bounding step. (I’m using the double pike as an example because it is basically impossible to land upright.) Wouldn’t the routine be finished in a much nicer way if gymnasts completed beam dismounts with lunges?

The lunge is a hop into a controlled backward step. If it’s done correctly, it’s an appealing way to land a tumbling pass. The lunge is what used to be allowed on floor exercise until 2009, and it’s still utilized in NCAA gymnastics. The closest thing I’ve ever seen to this on beam in elite is Victoria Moors’ dismount at the 2013 American Cup. When she took a step backward, she threw her head and arms back and made it look as though the step were a planned part of her exercise. I think it would be a lovely way to close a beam routine.

In short, I believe that twisting form deductions are too lenient, and landing deductions are too harsh. It’s a shame that in so many cases, it’s hard to find an across-the-board happy medium! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if beam dismounts and twisting passes became more attractive?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Image via Getty Images.


  1. Sesl2715 says:

    It’s true that landing deductions can be too harsh in terms of shuffle vs. step but I don’t agree with the idea of having gymnasts lunge out of their beam dismounts. I never quite understood why fans wanted to bring them back except out of nostalgia. The lunge just helps gymnasts cover up their step/hop on dismount. There’s no reason why female gymnasts should not be held to the same standards as male gymnasts. I feel the “pretty/cute” lunge is kind of patronizing to women’s gymnasts.

  2. November says:

    I kind of agree with Sesl2715. I think one of the reasons that the lunge was banned on floor was because as time went on the tumbling became so difficult that it was used more and more to cover up mistakes instead of enhancing the beauty of a pass. There are some wonderful examples of elegant controlled lunges, but you kind of have to go far back. Nowadays, with gymnastics the way it is, I don’t trust that a lunge back would be used in the same manner. Your allowed to have one pass on floor with a lunge and that seems fair and I hope that today’s gymnasts learn how to use it artistically again. However, it has always been a rule that you’ve got to stick your beam dismount cold and it should remain that way. I agree with you about the shuffling steps/slight adjustments; that should be a lesser deduction than a small step or hop.

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