FIXING College Vault Judging

Vault is the worst judged apparatus in College Gymnastics.

In fact, it’s a disaster. Fans sitting close to the Vault table at Championships 2014 (including me) were livid at times watching blatant injustice directly in front of our eyes.

Obviously inferior vaults would score the same as much better vaults. Or even higher in some cases.

Merde. :-(

That said, the NCAA has fixed the biggest problem already. September 2012 WAG NCAA finally decided to eliminate the required dangerous 2nd vault in Finals. To “lessen the possibility of injuries“.

In 2008 (the bad old days) Susan Jackson won Vault. She rarely trained her 2nd vault. And only into pit.

Pretty much everyone agrees, including Miss Val, that there are too many Yurchenko 1/1s in the NCAA.

One way to solve that problem is to make Yurchenko 1/1 start at 9.95.

The 10.0 start would be reserved for Yurchenko 1 1/2 and a list of more advanced vaults.

That would solve most of the problem, right there.

In 2014 there’s too much emphasis on landing. Nebraska happened to stick in Championships prelims. I recall the year Stanford happened to stick. Landings are important, but not that important.

If you follow this site regularly you know I want landings rewarded that best absorb impact forces safely.

Uchimura-type landings.

legs apart on landing

Any set of rules that rewards gymnasts for landing with feet together and torso vertical is increasing the risk of injury on landing.

If not by lucky landings, how should we separate the best from the rest?

• add grid lines to the landing mat to check alignment and distance. Reward vaults that are straight, high and long relative to height of the gymnast.

Trampoline has added “flight time” as a component of their scoring. It works. Those spending the most time in the air are rewarded. If you have a video analysis system than can measure flight time of postflight, let’s try it out a competitions next season. Time is height.


• add 0.25 final score increments in competitions with more than 2 teams. That way we’ll have fewer ties, as well.

Leave a comment if you have additional ideas for improving Vault judging.


• Gymnastike – Preview: NCAA Vault Final 2014

FIXING College Bars Judging

Published by

coach Rick

Career gymnastics coach from Calgary, Canada.

11 thoughts on “FIXING College Vault Judging”

  1. I’m glad to see you continuing to bring up this subject! This has been a big part of what we’ve been saying at Gymnast Care and it’s such a big deal when we talk about protecting gymnasts.

    We NEED landings to be fixed in the JO Program as well because this is the program that feeds our colleges. We need to start with the philosophy when they are young and can make it a habit.

  2. I actually like two vaults in EF. I feel that if you want to qualify for event finals on vault then you should do two in semi-finals like in elite. This way the best vaulters get into event finals rather than who gets a stick on the first day. So many of the these girls can do much harder vaults and routines but they don’t because it’s not rewarded which is extremely unfortunate. Like Keeley Kmichec(spelling?) from Oklahoma just posted a video of her doing a bhs+full twist on beam, and we will probably never see that even though it would be great for the sport. College gymnastics has really grown over the past decade and I think it should be harder to get a 10.0 SV, not super hard but harder than it is now.

  3. It seems like in this day and age it shouldn’t be that difficult to put a sensor in the vault and a sensor in the mat to measure flight time on vault…

  4. Completely agreed, regarding both landing mechanics and grid lines on the landing mat.

    Much of what goes into a score can and should be judged by objective criteria, but isn’t. Judges are supposed to reward amplitude in general, but with no accurate way of judging height and distance other than just eyeballing it, errors can be made far too easily.

  5. GREAT post! I have my fav NCAA team, but I feel they often get VERY generous scores on all apparatus, and the visiting team gets stingy scores, even if they are better. I know it’s to please the fans, but why at the expense of a great vault from a visiting gymnast? It’s not right. Seriously, like I said a couple days ago, we’ve got to have more realistic scores in NCAA. I like your solutions. And I like the emphasis on safe, good landings. And I’m SICK of 1/1 Yurchenkos. My dd’s whole team has to do them, and not everyone can execute them, and they can do a Tsuk or front/front better, but “this is what they want in college” is the reasoning to only do 1/1 Yur. :p

  6. the idea that a bent over landing with the feet separated shouldn’t be deducted is ludicrous. The coaches, time and time again, have refused to allow the yfull to be returned to its former 9.9 start value. therefore the following MUST happen.

    no more than 3 yfulls allowed per vault rotation per team.
    preflight leg seperations/bent knees, shoulder angle, and pretwisting heavily deducted.
    only girls with 2 10.00 start vaults allowed in finals – 2nd vaults to be competed during prelims.

  7. Like to see the comments on shifting judging to be based on how well an athlete can safely disperse forces. Dr. Josh and I discuss this a lot, and it has to be addressed if we want to make an appreciable difference in the amount of spine and lower body injuries seen in gymnastics from landings

Leave a Comment