gymnastics – 8.5 to 9.0 regardless

Andy Thorton has been holding fire to the feet of FIG judges better than anyone else.

He’s just posted some disturbing statistics on Execution score trends at the the international level. Here are a few of the highlight quotes from his analysis:

scores seem to be “trapped” between an 8.5 and a 9.0 regardless of the performance …

With the exception of men’s vault, it would appear from the numbers that gymnasts in general are anywhere from three to seven tenths sloppier today than they were in 2006. Is this a fact, or a function of something else going on? …

Judging in general has become much more harsh, much more unreasonable …

Men’s high bar judging has perhaps become the most outrageous and unpredictable; sometimes the cleanest routine receives an 8.7 and sometimes the sloppiest routine receives an 8.9, but the rule is no one gets above a 9.0. I miss the days even four years ago when 9.5’s and 9.6’s were given to clean routines …

As we strive for a resurgence of artistry, stricter rules are not the solution; in fact, they’re part of the problem. Today’s execution standards have not created less subjectivity in our sport; they’ve created MORE subjectivity …

I miss the days when judges felt free to throw out a 9.8, a 9.9, or even a 10.0 when a gymnast was magnificent …

Me too.

See the stats and Andy’s very logical argument on American Gymnast A fascinating look at scoring trends

He doesn’t mention this time, but has in the past, that one of the main causes of “boxed scores” (lowest Execution score too close to highest) is that judges fear being out-of-range.

It used to be that Women’s Gymnastics was far more guilty. (They’ve always listed many subjective deductions that are near impossible to evaluate consistently.) But what’s going on in Men’s Gymnastics? … Andy’s stats show the MAG execution scores dropping even more precipitously than WAG.

Detail, for example, the 1.0 in deductions on this Pommel bronze medal routine at Worlds:

results (PDF)

I have no confidence that either FIG Technical Committee has the leadership to fix boxed scores. That means, in most cases, the highest difficulty score will continue to win. There’s no incentive to try to improve execution.

Next? … I’d love to see Andy or THE ALL AROUND do a more detailed statistical analysis on this trend.

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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