If you only watch gymnastics when there’s a major title on the line, you may not be well-versed in the scoring. While perfect 10s are still awarded in college gymnastics, on the elite level, they’ve been replaced with a more complex system that rewards risk as much as it does perfection.
Under the current scoring system, there are two major components of a gymnast’s score: the difficulty score and the execution score. The difficulty score relates, as you might guess, to the difficulty of the elements performed in a given routine. Every element that a gymnast could potentially perform is assigned a specific skill level, each of which has its own point value. So a “C”-level skill, for instance, would be worth 0.3 points, while an “E”-level skill is designated 0.5 points. There can also be a bonus awarded when skills are successfully connected, and every gymnast’s difficulty value includes an elements score, which is calculated based on whether the basic skills required on a particular apparatus are present in the routine. The difficulty score is ultimately comprised of the elements score and the point values for the 10 most difficult skills, as well as any bonus points for connections.
The execution score is the one you probably remember from the golden era of the perfect 10. It measures technique, execution, and artistry. Each gymnast starts with a value of 10, then deductions are assessed for any errors or imperfections during a routine. The value of the deduction depends on the severity of the mistake; a fall, for example, is the most detrimental at 1 point. The highest and lowest scores from the six-judge panel are dropped, and the remaining four are averaged to reach the final execution score.
So, if you’ve wondered how a gymnast like Simone Biles can nearly fall and still win, it ultimately boils down to the difficulty of the routine and how well they’re able to balance that risk with the execution of those skills. Keep reading for a breakdown of the specific requirements for each event.