2018-2020 Points of Emphasis

By NFHS on May 08, 2018 gymnastics-girls Print

1. Balks on Vault: 

a. On vault, a balk is an incomplete attempt that results in a fall during the run, stops mid-run, runs off the runway, or makes contact with the board, hand placement mat, board safety mat, or vault table without coming to a rest or support on top of the vault table.

Examples of incomplete attempts that would result in a void vault (zero score):

-       The gymnast has flight from the board and places her hands on top of the vault table to shift her weight over her hands in support, but does not drive her heels overhead and finishes in a squat stand on the table or lands back down on the board.

-       The gymnast has flight from the board to an almost inverted handstand position, loses momentum and steps down onto the vault table or lands back down on the board.

-       The gymnast’s steps are off and she cannot slow down her horizontal speed and ends up on her belly on top of the table.

b. The gymnast is allowed three attempts to successfully complete one or two vaults. One balk is allowed in the three attempts without penalty. A second or third balk results in a zero score. No fourth attempt is allowed. Examples:

-       Balk (no penalty) – Balk (zero score) – Vault #1 (score counts) – no 4th attempt allowed

-       Vault #1 (receives score) – Balk (no penalty) – Vault #2 (receives score)

-       Balk (no penalty) – Vault #1 (receives score) – Balk (zero score) – no 4th attempt allowed

-       Balk (no penalty) – Balk (zero score) – Balk (zero score) – final score is zero, no 4th attempt allowed


2. Balks on Bars and Beam:

a. On bars and beam, a balk is an incomplete attempt to mount the apparatus. The gymnast has two attempts to mount without penalty, provided she has not touched the board/folded panel mat/ mount trainer mat and/or apparatus, or run underneath the apparatus without mounting on either attempt. If the gymnast balks two times, she may take one more attempt, however on the third attempt, each judge takes a 0.50 balk deduction. If the gymnast runs and touches the board/folded panel mat/mount trainer mat and/or apparatus, or runs underneath the apparatus without mounting, the attempt is considered a fall and a 0.50 fall deduction is applied. Examples:

-       Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) – Run, mount performed = no deduction

-       Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) – Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) –

        Run, mount performed = -0.50 balk deduction

-       Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) – Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) –

        Run, balk (no touch, no mount performed) = -0.50 deduction for third attempt, no 4th attempt allowed. The gymnast must then mount the apparatus without a            run.

b. It is acceptable for a gymnast to walk/run under the low bar to mount with a jump to the high bar from between the bars.


3. Spotting:

Whenever a spotter touches a gymnast the deduction is 0.5 for a spot. A judgement call or decision must then be made by the judge as to whether the element was facilitated or not. If the touch is without assisting (gymnast completed the element on her own), the deduction is 0.5 for the spot. If the element is completed according to technical requirements, it can still be awarded Value Part credit, Event Requirements, and may be part of a back-to-back superior series. If the spotter facilitates or assists an element (gymnast could not have completed the element on her own), the deduction is 0.5 and no Value Part credit is awarded. Therefore, no credit is given for Event Requirements, no AHS bonus credit is awarded and the element may not be used for credit as part of a back-to-back superior series.


 There is no specific movement that a spotter makes that would determine whether a skill is voided. For instance, a spotter could hold his arms/hand straight out under the girl’s back to keep her from dropping while rotating during a salto vault, thus facilitating her rotation. No movement from the hands at all would still allow the gymnast to rotate around the hands without losing any height and is considered facilitated. Anytime there is a spot during the rotation of a salto vault, there is a chance of the vault being voided. The only vaults that are scored when facilitated are a handspring and a vault that includes a salto. A handspring receives a 1.0 deduction each time if facilitated in the first and/or second flight. A vault that includes a salto receives a 1.0 deduction if facilitated in the second flight. All other vaults, when facilitated will receive a score of zero.

a. Any type of spot on an AHS that results in a 0.5 deduction will make the element ineligible for 0.2 in bonus for an AHS (must be completed without a fall or spot).

b. If a gymnast falls after being spotted (facilitated or touched) during an element, 0.5 is deducted for the fall in addition to the 0.5 that is deducted for a spot.

c. If a gymnast is spotted simultaneously upon landing, a total deduction of 0.5 is taken. Do not deduct for both a spot and a fall if a fall occurs. Credit may be awarded if the element is technically complete.

d. If a coach catches a falling gymnast to prevent a possible injury, deduct 0.5 for the fall only.

e. If a coach touches or pushes a gymnast when, or after, she lands an element to stop her momentum, deduct 0.5 only. If a fall occurs after the touch, do not also deduct an additional 0.5 for the fall.

f. If a gymnast is spotted on both elements in a series a 0.5 spot deduction would be taken both times.

g. There is no penalty if a gymnast inadvertently touches the coach.


4. Awarding Credit:

When an element is performed (M/S/HS/AHS) the judge must decide whether or not to award credit for that skill in the difficulty category. If the technical criteria for that skill has been met, credit is awarded. If poor technique causes a fall after the landing of a skill, the skill is still considered complete for the purpose of awarding difficulty. The fall is considered an error on that skill the same as any other execution or amplitude error. A salto that does not land on the feet, a release element on bars in which the hands do not contact the bar, or an acro element that does not bear weight on the beam would not be considered complete and would receive no credit in the difficulty category. These would then be considered void elements. Because it is void, it may not count as part of a series, pass, or event requirement.

When awarding credit in bonus for an AHS, there must be no fall or spot. If there is a fall following the AHS, due to poor performance of that AHS, and weight is borne prior to the fall, the AHS is considered complete and credit may be awarded in difficulty but is not awarded 0.2 in bonus. 

Examples: standing back tuck on beam, front salto full on floor, or double back salto flyaway on bars. If any of the above lands on the feet and then falls, each receives credit for difficulty but no credit in bonus for the AHS. Note that there is a difference in that awarding difficulty credit requires only that the element be complete. Awarding AHS credit in bonus requires the element be complete without a spot and without causing a fall.


5. Event Requirements on Floor:

Evaluating Acro Passes:

A gymnast is required to have three acro passes in a floor routine. Each of the passes may be two or more directly connected acro elements. With the exception of the round-off, all elements in an acro pass must receive Value Part credit. The first two round-offs that are performed in a routine will receive medium credit. Any round-offs following the first two will not be eligible for difficulty credit. Although a third round-off (or any additional round-offs) does not receive difficulty credit, if included in one of the three required acro passes, it may be used to fulfill the event requirement of three passes. A third isolated round-off, or one that is connected to a dance element, will receive no Value Part credit.

Examples: round-off, back handspring, back tuck (M+M+S); round-off, straddle jump 1/1 (M+HS);

front tuck, round-off, back handspring, back handspring (S+0+S); round-off, back handspring, full

(0+M+HS); round-off, split jump (0+M). All acro passes in the example will count and fulfill the

event requirement of three acro passes.

All acro passes may consist of either backward, forward, or sideward elements, including a pass of only two elements. A handstand with or without a turn has no direction unless it is completed as a front walkover or a handstand forward roll.A pass of only two elements must include a high superior, an advanced high superior, or a back-to-back superior.

Examples of passes that meet the requirement: round-off, double back (includes a AHS), front tuck, front tuck (includes a BBS); round-off, full (includes a HS)

Examples of passes that do not meet the requirement: round-off, back tuck (M+S), handspring, front tuck (M+S).

Evaluating the superior acro in the 3rd pass or as the last acro element:

This event requirement requires that a gymnast either have a superior in her third acro pass or that her last acro element (may be isolated) is a superior. Credit may be awarded even if the first and/or second pass is broken. Example: round-off, double full (M+AHS); front tuck, 2 steps, roundoff, back tuck (S / M+S – broken 2nd pass); handspring, front layout, front tuck (M+S+S); cartwheel to ending pose. Comment: Gymnast would not receive credit for three passes but would receive credit for a superior in the third pass even though her second pass was broken due to extra steps. The third pass includes a superior and the ending cartwheel would not negate the credit.

Gymnast has 2 options to fulfill this requirement –

1. If the 3rd pass qualifies as a pass and includes a superior acro – no deduction is taken

2. If there is no superior in the 3rd pass or if the 3rd series does not qualify as a pass (according to the definition) proceed with the following -

a. Determine the very last acro element in the routine. If it is a superior – no deduction is taken. The element could be an isolated superior or the last element of the 3rd series that did not qualify as a pass. Example: front tuck, takes a step, roundoff, back tuck – this is not a pass but the superior back tuck qualifies if it is the last acro element in the routine.

b. If the gymnast does not fulfill the requirement with either option a 0.2 deduction is taken in Event Requirements.


6. Composition:

Composition is the structure or framework of the exercise. A well-composed exercise includes a variety of different types of elements and connections. Uneven bars should include kips, swings, grip changes from one bar to the other and circles, both forward and backward. The gymnast must work around both bars and in all directions without stops or pauses. Balance beam and floor exercise should include a balance and variety of both acro and dance elements distributed throughout the routine. Good composition should demonstrate a variety of changes in the direction of movement, tempo and rhythm as well as use all areas of the apparatus or floor. Each event lists guidelines to consider when evaluating composition.