Saturday, 31 March 2012

CoPs and robbers: the best bits of the draft code

It is what we look forward to whilst simulatenously wishing away the time before the Olympics and dream of having a part in creating: it is nearly time for the new code of points. A change in the marking system with such regularity is one of the hardest things to explain to sports fans unfamiliar with gymnastics. And it IS strange. If a runner runs the fastest, he wins. If a high jumper jumps the highest, he wins. The list goes on. Yet a gymnast could win gold by a great margin on bars during one Olympics and not even make the finals at the next one (with the same routine and assuming no injuries!). The criteria on which we judge what is good change continuously.

I always say I am not an expert on the code: I am not. I think a lot of it is very difficult to understand and one has to have a very specific type of thought process to convert things like C+E = 0.3 into a  tumbling line in their head. And I am so not one of those people.

A week or so ago, a draft of the new code of points was uploaded to the internet. Now this is exactly what is says on the tin: a draft, so any part of it could change before it is finalized. It does mean however that we get to see how the FIG is thinking, what specifically they are trying to move towards and away from and we can gauge, as fans, if we want to move in the same direction too. I may not understand much, but I understand some, so from my recent skimming of the proposed code (which can be downloaded here here are my best bits/most notable bits so far.


It was nearly four years ago but it is still talked about often, and with distain. Cheng Fei won the Olympic bronze medal on vault with a fall. Why did this happen? Because she was one of only two competitors in the final performing two 6.5 vaults. Although her Amanar was near perfect, she barely got her Cheng to her knees let alone feet.

Alicia Sacramone on the other hand did two lovely vaults with great execution, amplitude and form. Yet she took fourth place and no medal. To many, including me, this is not what gymnastics is all about, and although the execution of vault gold medallists has been improving greatly since Beijing there was still a sense that someone could rock up with a monster D score and take home a medal with car crash execution scores (Yamilet Pena anyone?).

But the FIG are clearly onto this and the draft code suggests a new rule for vault event finals...

(DVT1 + DVT2)/2 + 10.00 – (VT1 ex deductions + VT2 ex deductions) = Final score

The above is taken straight from the draft code. But what does it actually mean? It means that E scores are no longer averaged, but instead the focus is on the deductions themselves, so bad form can be doubly costly. Let us have a quick look at what would have happened in that most controversial of vault finals if this rule were in place.

As can be seen, this could really shake up the vault and I can’t wait to see how things pan out if it is used (PLEASE keep it FIG!).

See this handy video kindly made by AllTheTimeGymnastics for a video explanation

Other changes on vault include a 0.5 penalty for taking a run length greater than 25 metres.  Also, two vaults with the same post flight will not count in event finals. This would mean, for example, that Elena Zamolodchikova’s 2 vaults from the Sydney event final would not be appropriate because they both consist of a backward entry laid out salto with 2 twists.


In recent times it has been possible for a gymnast to make a splash on the uneven bars stage based pretty much on pirouettes alone. The bars final at the last Olympics was all about this. All the top three gymnasts were using highly rated forward giant one armed pirouettes in combination to boost their D scores.

Sadly for these types of gymnasts, this approach to the uneven bars will no longer work in the same way. The E+E combination 0.2 bonus on this apparatus still remains, but does not apply to pirouette skills.

Unlike the above issue with the vault, which I think is actually quite hard to dislike, one’s opinion on this rule change really is a matter of taste. Those who have a fondness for the Chinese approach to bars (Yang Yilin in 2008 being a good example) will find this change a hard one to swallow. Personally, though, I think it is nice to shake up an event from time to time. Also, as people know, I am a big fan of Tweddle’s bar work and this rule change will allow her to become a muse for high scoring bar routines in the next quad (as connection bonus for highly rated skills is now best achieved through release connections).

It will be nice to see Beth leave a good legacy on her signature apparatus, and I think this could give bars a little more ingenuity and excitement (rather than the tired old forward giant full, forward giant full, jaeger variations).


Harder to explain than the above, but this code is full of possible artistry deductions on floor. Key examples of this include (pasted directly from the code):

·         Lack of creative choreography (0.1 or 0.3)

·         Lack of fluidity (Composition is a series of disconnected elements and movements) (0.1)

·         More than one stationary stance on two feet in preparation for tumbling (0.1)

·         Lack of expression (0.1)

·         Unnecessary pause (of more than 1 sec.)before acro line (0.1)

I have to say I am LOVING all of this. Finally a move to seriously address the boring clunkfest that floor exercise has become. People are going to have to work very hard to satisfy all these criteria though, as I can’t actually think of anyone that doesn’t pause before a tumbling line. However itis times like this when we get a hint of what the next code whore things to do will be. It is likely that standing in a corner and doing some arm movements won’t qualify as a pause, so corner posing will probably go through the roof next year.

With all this deductable stuff you would be forgiven for thinking floor scores will remain low. However, the code has souped up floor’s scoring capability with a handful of new beefy connection value opportunities. Most exciting from my perspective include the return of direct A+D bonus (which, my friends, could mean the return of whips into double pikes - I dare to dream). C+E connections (where the E is a double salto) get 0.3 CV and A/B+F get 0.3 too.

What was the one thing the majority of fans wanted changed on floor? I don’t even need to say it but for fluidity of text, I shall. We all wanted to see the back of jumping from tumbles. JUST GO. And in a sense there is a move towards this. People can still jump out of a tumble should they want to, BUT the jump must be a B score minimum. This is obviously a bit trickier and with the new artistry deductions we might see a lot less of this happening.

Basically, a great floor worker with good execution, artistry and the ability to connect things well could get some mammoth scores here. This is good news for Romania: with bars scoring potential on the decline, and floor on the rise this could spell good things for their team programme.


  1. I feel like these floor changes will really help Raisman who can get bonuses for connecting her tumbling like she's been doing. Also, wasn't there a new thing about being allowed to lunge out of one pass now?

    People should bring back the shushanova out of tumbling a la Courtney Kupets and EHH!

  2. I am LOVING the new vault rules! I'm worried that with the floor scores getting even LOWER now, is everyone just going to train vault and only vault?

    I'll have to wait and see about the new bar rules...I like pirouettes..(:

    This code doesn't seem to be so bad! I'm one of the few that liked the D+E format, and I hope with these new rules, there will be more people liking it as well.

  3. ALl Flipped Out: Yeah there is a new one lunge rule. WHilst this is quite literally a step in the right direction I still don't like the tone of this, as if lunges are bad and they will let off a gymnast for doing it once. They should be allowed! There is a difference between a lunge and a big, uncontrolled step anyway. Very silly.

    I have mixed feelings with regards to Raisman. I love her tumbling, I think its awesome. But her presentation and dance isn't up to it. I really like her as a gymnast but I think we should be moving away from endorsing floor routines like Raisman's in terms of its composition and artistry.

    Allen: I think with floor it will become that kind of make or break event like bars was in the last quad. I think it will be very very low scoring for some (comparatively) but those who can keep their deductions down and put together some great tumble connections might be able to score really highly. I definitely think floor will become more of an AA decider, which is nice.

    With vault, I love the rules too but I do see what you mean with the danger of the floor scores. However, I still think it will be better than it is now because even though it might be tricky to get a high floor score, it won't be impossible. It is basically impossible now really given that the highest floor score this quad (Bross 2010 AA) is almost a point lower than the highest vault score (Maroney 2011 TF). Pkus I think that these new EF vault rules are going to make a lot more sense when the new vault start values are released, which I think will change in January.

    I like D+E too and I think in many ways it is fairer. BUT there are too many problems with it for me to get fully behind it. It is too blind to presentation and artistry: I know this example is used to death but isn't it a travesty that Anna Pav's floor in 2008 in the AA only scored a 15.05? It was insanely beautiful. The 10 system wasn't without its problems but I still think we have a long way to go with D+E.

    Sorry for the essay, thanks for the comments!

    1. I don't know...if they're only going to apply in the event finals, some all arounders can still abuse the Amanar (even though it's a 6.3 now).

      Pavlova was just simply, utterly CHEATED! It was the best floor in the entire 2008 Olympics. The tumbling and dance was beautiful. The choreography was above and beyond most of the other gymnasts. At least gymnasts like Pavlova will never get the artistic deductions.

  4. ....oops, looks like the new vaults values HAVE been released! As expected, most popular vaults are now slightly devalued. The Amanar is now a 6.3 and the Cheng a 6.4, for instance. So the scoring potential of vault is down. Also, the hardest floor tumbles have been upgraded to a new H status - the FT-DLO and full in full out are now H rated. Hence floor scores up and vault down. And hopefully less Amanars!

    1. I like it...the H rating. (:

      Did it say anything about beam?
      (I had this wild thought that EVERY international gymnast MUST perform an original beam mount)

  5. Sorry, missed this! There is a lot of stuf about beam but it is much harder for me to understand and sum up than the things on other apparatus. Basically connections will be much more harshly judged

  6. Just curious, which of the floor deductions are global vs. per?

    (is the new COP published somewhere laymen can get at it? I didn't see it on the FIG site anywhere?)

  7. I am afraid I don't fully understand what you are asking - I am no code expert! The CoP draft I used for this article can be viewed via the link in the article. It is just a draft and not all might be implemented, but it is there for everyone to view