If you’ve been a fan of gymnastics after 2006 you know the “Perfect 10” is no longer the goal gymnasts try to achieve with their routines. Besides being scored on execution, athletes also get a score according to the skills they perform to make up their difficulty score or D-score. But figuring out the D-score for a routine can be really tricky and takes some time, so here are some tips for you to get into this gymnastics math. Let’s start!
First of all, it’s important that you download the Code of Points from the FIG website [link] so you can access all the skill values, connection values and requirements. It also includes execution and neutral deductions but I won’t be getting into those because then we would be here all day. If you’d rather not download it, you can check the gymnastics wikia website that features every skill (with illustrative gifs), connections and requirements for each event.
Besides being the first event in the Olympic order, vault is also a good place to start because it’s a single skill. It is worth what it is worth and that’s it, you’re done. All vaults have a code number made up of three numbers: the first indicates the group the vault belongs in, which correlates with its entry; the second indicates the body position (1 for tuck, 2 for pike and 3 for layout); and finally the third number indicates the number of half twists.
To point some examples, let’s look at a vault from each group (except group 1 because almost no one does those anymore). One of the most common vaults in group 2 (front handspring entry) is the front handspring front layout with one and a half twists, better known as the Rudi. Here it is performed by Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland, one of the best gymnasts to ever perform it. As you can see in the video, the vault code is 233: 2 for the group, 3 for the layout position and 3 again for three half twists, meaning 1.5 twists. By looking for the vault code, you can easily find the vault on the Code of Points and figure out its D-score, 6.2.
Looking at group 3, the Tsukahara group, all these vaults start with a round-off entry on the vault table. Fortunately for us, in women’s gymnastics no distinction is made between Tsukahara and Kasamatsu vaults which vary just slightly on the table take off, with the Tsukahara taking off facing the vault table and the Kasamatsu taking off facing opposite of the table. In this group, one of the most popular and difficult vaults (6.0) is the Tsukahara double twist, here performed by Marcia Vidiaux of Cuba, with more of a Kasamatsy technique. The code for this vault is 334 with 3 for the group, 3 for layout position and 4 for four half twists which equals to two full twists.
The fourth group is the Yurchenko group. If you watch gymnastics, you know what a Yurchenko looks like: round-off onto the springboard plus back handspring onto the vault table. These are the most common vaults among elite and non-elite gymnasts despite being a bit scary for unusual viewers with the backwards entry and all (I know it scared the life out of me when I first started watching gymnastics). The Yurchenko layout full (432), Yurchenko layout double full (434) and Yurchenko layout with two and a half twist or Amanar (435) are the most common vaults in this group and I dare you to count how many of them you’ll see during the Olympics. In the video, you can see the most perfect Amanar ever performed by McKayla Maroney during the 2012 Olympics Team Final. Back in the day, this would have been an 11.
Finally, group 5 also has a round-off entry onto the springboard but then includes a half twist to perform a front handspring onto the table. It’s usually done by vault specialists who are pretty good with the Yurchenko technique and just need to add the extra half twist in the back handspring to be able to qualify for a vault event final (where you need two vaults from different groups) rather than learn a Tsukahara or front handspring vault, which would be a completely new technique for them. One of the most difficult vaults in this group is the Cheng, consisting of a layout with one and a half twists off the table and is worth 6.4, a tenth higher than an Amanar. Here it is performed by Simone Biles and you can see the code number is 533, meaning group 5, layout position and three half twists (or 1.5 twists).
Moving on to the next event, bars is actually one of the hardest to calculate, at least for me. There is no pause between skills, everything is always swinging and some skills are a bit hard to differentiate (damn pirouettes!). For this event and for the next two, you will need pen and paper to write down every skill the gymnast is performing and whether or not they are connected. Next you should check the value of each skill which corresponds to a letter: A is worth 0.1, B = 0.2, C = 0.3 and so on, and then add up the top 8 skills the gymnast performed. After that you need to make sure all composition requirements were in the routine, which are skills the gymnast has to include in order to get a 0.5 bonus for each (there’s a total of five requirements on each event for a total of 2.5 points). Here is a small tip: if you’re calculating the score for a gymnast from a big gymnastics country, don’t bother checking the requirements every time, they almost always meet them because it would be a big blow on their score if they didn’t. So just add 2.5 after the total value of the skills and connections and it should be the right score. Finally, you need to check the connections the gymnast made and how much they are worth. In the end you just add everything up and voilà, you have a D-score.
In the specific case of bars the requirements are: a flight skill from high bar to low bar, a release move, different grips, a non-flight skill with full turn and a D+ dismount. If a gymnast performs a C dismount, they only get 0.3 bonus and a B or A dismount gets no bonus. As for connections, two D skills connected are worth 0.1, two flight skills worth D and E are worth 0.2 and a D flight skill connected to a C skill on high bar is worth 0.2 as well. Since this is a lot easier to understand with an example, let’s look at Viktoria Komova’s Gold winning routine from last year’s worlds.
Komova II (E) + pak (D) + Van Leeuwen (E)
Inbar half (D) + layout jaeger (E)
Toe-on full (D) + piked Tkachev (E)
Full in dismount (D)
Top 8 skills: EEEEDDDD which means 4 x 0.5 + 4 x 0.4 = 3.6
Komova II + pak: E + D (both flight skills) = 0.2
Pak + Van Leeuwen: D + E (both flight skills) = 0.2
Inbar half + layout jaeger: D + E = 0.1
Toe-on full + piked Tkachev: D + E = 0.1
D-score: 3.6 (skills) + 2.5 (requirements) + 0.6 (connections) = 6.7
On beam, things are a bit easier. You have time to write down the skills while the gymnast does some choreo but always keep an eye out because they can move on to the next skill in seconds. Everything is very similar to bars, with requirements, connections and the top 8 skills counting, but at least three of these skills have to be dance elements, which also happens on floor. The requirements this time around are a full turn, connection of two dance elements (at least one of them has to be a split), an acro series, acrobatic skills in different directions and a D+ dismount. There’s a lot more connections possible than on bars, so it’s better if you check the Code of Points or the gymnastics wikia website to check them all out. As an example let’s look at Shang Chunsong’s beam from Podium Training at this year’s Nationals:
BHS (B) + BHS (B) + layout (E) + split jump (A) + straddle jump (A)
Switch half (D)
BHS (B) + LOSO (C) + LOSO (C)
Front tuck (D)
Double turn (D)
Front aerial (D) + sheep jump (D)
Side aerial (D) + sissone (A)
Round-off (B) + triple twist dismount (F)
Top 8 skills (3.5)
BHS + BHS + layout: B + B + E = 0.1 SB + 0.1 CV
Layout + split jump: E + A = 0.1
BHS + LOSO + LOSO: B + C + C = 0.1 SB + 0.1 CV
Front aerial + sheep jump: D + D = 0.2
Side aerial + sissone: D + A = 0.1
D-score: 3.5 (skills) + 2.5 (requirements) + 0.8 (connections) = 6.8
Lastly, floor works in a very similar way to beam, with at least three dance skills counting to the top 8 that go into the score. Most gymnasts have four tumbling passes (you can’t really have more in this code) but lately some have taken it down to three or even just two tumbles, making up for it with turns and other dance elements that can be just as valuable (even though the FIG believes no dance skill is worth more than an E but whatever). On the other hand, the most powerful athletes resort to connecting acro skills in order to get higher start values on the acrobatic side and make up for their lack of high difficulty dance elements. As for requirements, gymnasts must perform a salto with at least one twist, a double salto, acro skills in different directions, a connection of two dance elements with at least one of them a split and once again a D+ dismount. Connections are also very diverse and you should check the Code to see them all. As an example let’s take Aly Raisman’s routine from Nationals.
1.5 twist (C) + double arabian (E) + front layout (B)
Split leap with 1.5 turn (D)
Double L turn (D)
Dos Santos (F) + split jump (A)
Double layout (F)
Switch leap (B) + switch full (D) + split jump full (C) + sissone (A)
Double pike (D)
Top 8 skills (3.6)
1.5 twist + double arabian: C + E = 0.2
double arabian + front layout: E + B = 0.2
Dos Santos + split jump: F + A = 0.1
D-score: 3.6 (skills) + 2.5 (requirements) + 0.5 (connections) = 6.6
Overall, as you can see calculating D-scores is no easy feat but with some practice it gets better and better until you know the value of most skills and connections by heart (I know I do). As we enter the Olympic season, you can do the gymnastics math and know the start value of your favorite athletes even before they step onto the arena. As an alternative you can check my gifset project on tumblr presenting the D-scores for most athletes going into Rio. Nevertheless, this Olympic cycle is coming to an end and soon we’ll have a brand new code with new rules and new values so all this will be meaningless in less than six months. Until then, have fun!