Every Olympic cycle, the men’s gymnastics Code of Points – the system in which the judges determines the points — is reevaluated.
For the men’s gymnastics team, the Maize and Blue intrasquad proved to be a time to test out the new system since this summer’s Rio Olympics.
For the past three cycles, all competitors had to incorporate five element groups into their routines for all events except the vault. But this time around, the previously required five events was reduced to four. The committee charged with evaluating the Code of Points recently determined that gymnasts were limited by having to include so many element groups into their routines. They felt that lowering the number would increase the variety of performances the gymnasts could include in their routines. Now, they have the ability to be more creative and showcase more skills.
The gymnast scoring guidelines have also been altered so that a score of 10 is no longer a perfect score. Now, if a gymnast performs a difficult routine perfectly, he could score around 18.500.
The new system will take some time to get used to, as coaches and gymnasts struggle to compare the new results with the results from last year. Since the new Code of Points has a different scale, it will be confusing to figure out how one performance compares with one from the previous season.
“When you’re looking at scores as a coach, and I’m sure as a gymnast, you’re comparing it to what you’re used to,” said Michigan coach Kurt Golder.
The new Code of Points works as follows: Every move a gymnast performs is ranked by difficulty. The levels of difficulty are each assigned a letter, with A being the least difficult and G being the most. Every move is then assigned a letter and its corresponding number of points. To get the final score, the judges add the score from the skills value to the score including all the element groups. Next, the judges deduct points for any technical errors or breaks — the larger the error the more points deducted — and the result is the gymnast’s final score.
“This is the first competition with the new rules, and I’m not quite used to it,” Golder said. “You’re always adding five tenths, and now, how does that stack up against last year’s standard.”
The intrasquad scrimmage provided the ideal place for the Wolverines to become accustomed to the new system. In the the opening meet of the year, the coaches allow all gymnasts to compete for starting spots instead of having just their best members, which is atypical of a normal meet.
“We’re allowing everybody to go,” Golder said. “So a lot of these routines were maybe the lower-level guys who made mistakes.”
The intrasquad allowed the gymnasts to become more comfortable with competing and gave them a chance to become familiar with the new Code of Points, but it still may take some time to fully adjust.
“It’ll probably take a season for it to become natural,” Golder said.