Follow Us On
Stretching Out: 10 New Rules To Spice Up Gymnastics
(27 votes, average 3.00 out of 5)

So here we are, eight years into the 'new' Code of Points, and what do we have to show for it? For starters, many routines have doubled in length, while those with a time limit are presented in fast-forward mode. The women's all-around field has become thinner than a crepe, and some gymnasts are throwing tricks they have yet to master because they understand that the D-score, immune to deduction, is the most direct path to the podium.

Is gymnastics literally spinning out of control? Perhaps. To help rein in the madness and improve the sport's audience appeal, I have come up with a new rule for each event. And, who knows, they might even prevent an injury or two.


Any fall, including just a hand touch, should incur a 3.0 deduction. Gymnasts who fall on a handspring-double front in qualifications should not be granted a finals berth simply because they tried the hardest vault in the Code. Gymnastics competition should be about technique and mastery, not “attempts” at success. We will call this the “Common Sense” rule.


Any empty swing, such as those after a Shaposhnikova-type skill, shall incur a deduction. Why this has never been imposed remains a mystery rivaling the Bermuda Triangle. If a gymnast is talented enough to fling herself from the low bar to the high from a free hip, Stalder or sole circle, she should be able to do something after she catches.


Add an actual mount requirement in which the gymnast must either, a) use a board and show flight, or b) exert at least 5.0 METs (metabolic equivalents) without the use of a board. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 1.0 MET is defined as the energy it takes to “sit quietly,” which is not unlike many balance beam mounts today.


Effective immediately, gymnasts are required to perform no more than three tumbling passes and no fewer than one pass comprising three different leaps, none of which may be initiated from two feet or include sketchy mid-air twists. These spinning jumps have become the bane of women’s floor routines, and there isn’t a judge on the planet who can accurately determine their completion. Should a gymnast attempt one of these whirling dervishes, the judge retains the right to sound a gong, thus ending the performance.


Shorten the routines to five passes and the top eight skills (instead of 10), max, and some body part above the waist must touch the mat after every pass (except, of course, the dismount). This should help put the “exercise” back into the event. Until that happens, the event will be referred to as "Men's Tumbling." Oh … one more minor tweak: eliminate the 70-second time limit. Great gymnastics should never, ever be rushed!


This may sound radical, but give it a chance: Implement one “2-second hold” element that is not the mount. Pommel horse has developed into a mind-numbing event for spectators, who rarely know when to applaud. So let’s help them. Imagine these combos: flairs to a planche; flair handstand, stoop through to V or Manna (crowds will go nuts); scissor to straddle-L on one pommel. The possibilities are endless, just as pommel horse routines seem to be now.


Require a swing to handstand in both directions. Too many musclemen perform endless strength sequences, one requisite swing to handstand, and then a dismount. Rings champions should be able to swing in both directions, don't you think?


I am not picking on Olympic and world champion Yang Hak Seon, but if you qualify to an event final, your second vault must feature a difference greater than moving one hand approximately eight inches from where it touched on vault No. 1. With his Yang-1 (handspring-triple-twisting front) and Yang-2 (Kasamatsu-21/2), Yang is practically doing the same vault twice (even though he could land neither at the 2014 worlds). Maybe men's vault finals should require at least one double somersault? You decide. (And yes, I guess I am picking on Yang a little bit.)


This rule is both simple and effective: no more than one front uprise-swing handstand per routine. Double somersaults to the upper arms are followed by this transition 99.99999999999999% of the time. P-bars has so much more to offer.


This one’s great too. Deduct 0.1 for every giant swing that does not feature a change of grip or body position as it goes over the top. If you’re that guy cranking empty giants before and after big releases, and prior to your dismount, there will be a price to pay. Finally.

Comments (6)add comment

Gretchen Kohls said:

Absolutely bang on! As a former judge, It seems throwing tricks (the bigger, the better), and "flash" is what gymnastics has become. Where is the "artistry" in Artistic Women's Gymnastics? As for the mens end, too many power tumbling tricks, and not enough balance and strength moves. Besides judging, I raised two male gymnasts and one female gymnast. Keep pushing for the changes!
November 28, 2014
Votes: +14

Alicia said:

I disagree with your changes to women's vault, bars, and floor. The problem with double front vaults is that many of them land feet first with a deep squat, which will not incur a fall deduction. I would much rather have a committee approve of the vaulters who wish to perform dangerous vaults like the double front. If a gymnast can prove that she can perform the vault safely, she should be allowed to perform it. Otherwise, she should be banned from competing it. This is not to say that a gymnast cannot resubmit her vault for evaluation. I just think a gymnast's safety should always comes first, especially when it comes to throwing risky skills.

Secondly I see nothing wrong with an empty swing after a shaposhnikova skill. Forcing a gymnast to go directly into another skill would defeat the purpose of the bonus implemented specifically for this purpose. Besides, if this became a rule, those who are just learning to do a shaposhnikova will be harshly deducted, discouraging them from competing the skill altogether.

Finally, from what I know not that many people perform spinning jumps from two feet. I can see why you would want a deduction for spinning leaps, but granting a judge the ability to stop the exercise is unnecessary. There are already precision deductions in place to penalize gymnasts for landing them messily.
November 28, 2014
Votes: -2

Dwight said:

Thanks for your comments, all valid. I was just kidding about the comment about sounding the gong.
November 29, 2014
Votes: +3

uncsyd said:

Yes Please
Bring back the beam mounts please. Altho I got tired of the front tucks circa 96 it is not nearly as drab as today's routines. The empty swing on bars has to go to but they really need to find a way to add more variety instead of everyone doing a Shaposhnakova.
December 29, 2014
Votes: +10

Chrissy said:

Hate the code of points...bring back the perfect 10!
Speaking strictly as a fan and follower of gymnastics- most people hate the new code of points. It's confusing and not as engaging. Many people have lost interest in watching and following gymnastics over the years due to the scoring changes. The sport was much more interesting to watch when scoring was based on a 10. I hated that for the final years of using the 10 system that reaching a 10 was near impossible for a gymnast. On that note, the expectations of the scoring system became just ridiculous. But the system was better, the fans preferred it this way.
January 22, 2015
Votes: +5

Alison Clements said:

Bravo! (But just so long as the beam mount rule would still allow Silivas' beam mount.)
April 29, 2016
Votes: +0

Write comment

security image
Write the displayed characters