Before the NCAA season begins, it’s time for the now-annual venture into the murky world of NCAA scoring for those who might want to know a little more about what’s going on. Fair warning: you’ll be saner if you don’t.
For the full experience, be sure to check out of the first post on vault.
Composing a routine
- At minimum, an NCAA routine must include 3 A-valued elements, 3 B-valued elements, and 2 C-valued elements.
You don’t have to worry about this part. It’s very basic and every routine you see in NCAA will have been designed specifically to meet this standard, otherwise you wouldn’t see it in competition.
Gymnasts must also fulfill a series of special composition requirements, each worth 0.2. On bars, those four requirements are
1 – Two separate bar changes. This means that you can’t just start on the low bar, get up to the high bar, and then dismount. At some point in the routine, you have to transition from low to high, and from high to low.
2 – Two flight elements, not including the dismount. Flight elements include same-bar releases, as well as transition skills in which the body is not in contact with either bar at some point.
Gymnasts will typically fulfill this by using their two transitions (e.g., a bail handstand and a toe shoot; a Pak and a Shaposh), or by using one of those transitions skills along with a same-bar release. Gymnasts do not have to perform a same-bar release, and you’re supposed to have a really strong opinion about that one way or the other.
The two flight elements typically must be at least C-value skills, but one B-value skill can be used to meet the requirement as long as the other element is D- or E-value.
3 – A turning element, minimum C value. Turning elements normally make us think of pirouettes, but that does not have to be the case. Turning pirouettes do fulfill this requirement, but so does any skill including at least a 1/2 turn at any point. That means a skill like a bail handstand can be used to meet this requirement.
It’s not the spirit of the rule, but it does count.
4 – A dismount, minimum C value. This special requirement is a lie. NCAA gymnastics absolutely does not want you dismounting with an isolated C element, despite what the requirement says.
You can, but if the C-level dismount is preceded by two giant swings (as most dismounts are), you lose 0.1. Plus, if it’s not performed in a combination that earns bonus, you lose an additional 0.1. So basically, you can’t dismount with a C.
The requirement should just say a dismount, minimum D value, or C-value in direct bonus combination. That’s what it boils down to anyway.
Missing any one of these four requirements is a 0.2 deduction from the start value. Every routine you watch will have been composed to ensure that doesn’t happen. Any gymnast with a routine that includes 3 As, 3 Bs, and 2 Cs, and that fulfills the four requirements above will begin with a 9.50 start value.
From there, gymnasts attempt to get up to a 10.0 start value by earning five tenths of bonus. Bonus is earned in two categories.
1) Skill value – Each D element earns 0.1 in bonus, and each E element earns 0.2.
2) Connection value – There are a few formulae through which gymnasts receive connection bonus on bars.
C+C = 0.1 (but only if both elements show flight or turn, OR if both elements begin from the clear-hip, toe-on, or stalder roots)
C+D = 0.1
D+D = 0.2
To earn the full five tenths of bonus, at least one tenth must come from each category (skill value and connection value), so you can’t load up exclusively on one category or another.
But, as long as you get your 5 tenths of bonus, and fulfill all the requirements above, you’ve got your 10.0 start!
Up to level
Unless. There are several possible routine-composition deductions in NCAA routines, but the one you’ll hear me talk about the most during the season is the “up to level” deduction.
This deduction is a flat .10, taken from any routine that does not fulfill the standard of being “up to the competitive level.”
What does that even mean? Good question. On bars, a routine is considered up to the competitive level, and therefore avoids this deduction, as long as it fulfills ONE of the following areas.
1 – A same-bar release of D value (e.g., Jaeger, Gienger, or Tkatchev)
2 – A release element of E value (e.g., Ricna, Shap 1/2, or Bhardwaj)
3 – Two D releases (e.g., Bail handstand AND Shaposhnikova)
4 – Two E-level skills (e.g., Stalder 1/1 AND Double layout dismount)
Achieve any one of those, and you’re good.
“Up to level” is also where that 0.1 deduction for performing a C dismount without bonus connection that I mentioned earlier comes in. It’s classified as an “up to level” deduction.
Judges must display if they have taken an up-to-level deduction on a routine. So in a meet, if you see a card flashed that says “UTL” next to the start value, this is what has happened.
Let’s go through a straightforward example routine, where I’ll point out exactly how it meets the composition topics outlined above. Continue reading WTF Is NCAA Scoring – Bars Edition