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Routines Glossary


Gymnastics has become one of the most popular sports featured in the Olympic Games. The main types of gymnastics performed at the Olympics are of the artistic kind, and that is what will be concentrated on here.

The other forms of gymnastics include sports gymnastics, where mens and womens pairs, mixed pairs, womens threes and mens fours use each other as apparatus.

Rhythmic gymnastics is generally for women only, and involves the use of hoops, ribbons, clubs, rope, balls or free movement. General gymnastics is what is practised in many schools and clubs, and involves ropes, benches, and all other gymnastics equipment.

Men's equipment includes:
Pommel Horse
Parallel Bars
High Bar

Women's equipment includes:
Asymmetric Bars



Competitions are divided into two main types: Compulsory and Voluntary.

The sequence of moves for Compulsory movements is pre-set. Every competitor must attempt to perform the same moves in the same way.

In Voluntary routines, the gymnasts may select their own moves. They can select difficult moves to raise their score, as the judges mark on the difficulty of moves performed.

The minimum level of difficulty is set by the competition rules, and gymnasts must reach that set level otherwise, points will be deducted from their score.


At gymnastics competitions the routines are judged by a panel of judges. There are usually four judges who will sit around the apparatus and a master (head) judge who will sit at the master judges table.

The four judges mark the routines out of ten, deducting marks for errors or for routines which do not contain the required level of difficulty or length of performance. The four scores are passed the head judge, who removes the highest and lowest score and averages the remaining score.

For example:

Judge 1 - 9.60
Judge 2 - 9.80
Judge 3 - 9.50
Judge 4 - 9.70

The scores are ranked from highest to lowest - 9.80, 9.70, 9.60, 9.50.

The two middle scores - 9.70 and 9.60 are averaged.

9.70 + 9.60 = 19.30 divided by 2 = a final score of 9.65.

While the four judges are writing their scores, the head judge also marks the routine.

This is in case the four scores given vary greatly or the difference between the middle two scores is too large. A scale of differences is published by the FIG- Federation Internationale Gymnastique (International Federation of Gymnastics)

The head judge's score is added to the gymnast's final score and the average score is used as a base mark to try and resolve the differences.

Sometimes a judge may alter their mark after a meeting because of the base mark. If the judges have to meet to discuss the marks, the head judge will ask for the reason for each mark.

For the Olympic Games and World Championship competitions, six judges are used to judge men's competitions. Additional referees check the difficulty of the performed routines. Computers are used to calculate the scores and other mathematics, and video is used so that judges can watch the gymnast again in the event of as scoring dispute.


Apparatus - either the equipment, or the other gymnasts bodies, used by a gymnast in performing a routine

Base mark - the score that is produced when the head judges score is added to the other scores to settle an uneven score out

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