Dwight Normile on the Code of Points

2016 marks the 10th year under the current Code of Points, which tried to repair an ineffective judging system from 2004 by creating — and adding — two separate scores: “Difficulty” and “Execution.” …

It is debatable whether this rather one-dimensional Code, which continues to get tweaked as problems arise, has actually improved the sport or its evaluation. …

The State of the Sport

10 Judging system

Dwight much preferred the perfect 10 Codes of Points, as do I.

Rewriting Russian Gymnastics weighs in. And agrees. IG – The State of the Sport

FIG Technical Committees have not done a good job of tweaking the open ended Codes, in my opinion. They are today at least as problematic as the 2004 perfect 10 Codes.

If you are interested in this topic, you’ll need to buy Dvora Meyers’ upcoming book July 5, 2016.

The End of the Perfect 10

Published by

Rick Mc

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

9 thoughts on “Dwight Normile on the Code of Points”

  1. Dominique Dawes has had her say on this, too. The full article is at http://www.insidegymnastics.com/#!Dominique-Moceanu-Our-team-victory-paved-the-way/cd9n/56d4b0420cf2bc6add1328c3

    ‘The amplified emphasis on difficulty and the declining value of artistry has been the biggest change in gymnastics. Some would argue the term “artistic” should be dropped from women’s artistic gymnastics. While there are exceptions, the genuinely artistic gymnast does not stand a chance against the trickster with marginal execution in today’s international competitions. While we can all admire the athleticism of today’s routines, the emotionally moving performances of the likes of Dobre, Boguinskaia and Podkopayeva appear to be a thing of the past.

    I don’t take issue with a high level of difficulty, because it’s a natural progression of our sport and a vital component of gymnastics. My issue is that the increase in difficulty has occurred oftentimes to the detriment of execution and artistry. Skyrocketing difficulty requirements compounded by the drop of compulsory exercises has led to artistic gymnastics morphing into a changed sport. In the past, compulsories separated the great gymnasts from the good ones and built much-needed suspense for the later rounds of competition.

    Regrettably, the FIG has struggled to find a suitable balance between execution and difficulty. This is evident in the current Code of Points, which is ruthlessly lopsided toward difficulty. The FIG’s plan to make execution deductions has now backfired. Since the execution score is capped at 10.0 and the difficulty score has no ceiling, gymnasts and coaches quickly realized the path of least resistance to a high score was to heap on the difficulty, because judges were reluctant to give high execution scores.

    It has adversely affected the landscape of the sport for the reason that it made difficulty the priority in gymnastics. The 10.0 based judging system allowed each piece of apparatus to be uniformly weighted. For example, today vaulting has become too heavily weighted for the women because it’s often the event where the highest scores can be achieved. It simply does not make sense to make the most concise apparatus worth the most points in a team and all-around competition. The loss of the 10.0 continues to leave athletes, coaches, judges, and spectators in limbo. The decision to abolish the “perfect 10.0” has been the single most detrimental decision in our sport’s modern history. It took away the most recognizable symbol of our sport’s pursuit of perfection. In some ways, I feel like the decision has robbed us of our identity. As a fan, I miss the days when ten gymnasts had the potential to win the all-around gold medal.’


    1. I agree. There should be less incentive for “chucking” the highest difficulty. Sadly FIG judges seem unable to apply the rules to find a better balance between difficulty and execution.


    1. It is not “absurd”, as Uchimura and Biles are so obviously superior in difficulty and execution to their rivals – they are the exceptions that prove the rule. And the discussion was about how the open ended system has destroyed artistic gymnastics, which is much more than just a combination of difficulty and execution. Even an exceptional gymnast like Biles shows flaws in posture, proper alignment, foot form, length of muscle, flexibility, etc., that the former system would have made accountable. the overall quality of the sport has horribly suffered, under the new system.


      1. We can look at Dobre, Boguinskaia and Podkopayeva’s routines and find flaws too.

        I just went and look at Boguinskaia’s perfect 10 on FX from 1989 Worlds:

        First pass (1/1 dbl pike) feet apart + flexed feet + chest down on landing. 0.3 minimum off on current code.
        Third pass (dbl tuck) flexed feet+ feet apart. 0.2 off on current code.

        Those are pretty obvious errors if you care to look up the routine.

        Gymnasts in the old code – specifically ones you use as a example, were not properly being held accountable for artistry deductions as you said.

        If you want another example, check out Nadia Comaneci’s double twist on floor and beam. Crossed ankles can clearly be seen on her “perfect 10” routines. That’s a deduction under todays code. No such thing back then.


  2. I’m old enough to have grown up with the 10.0, and was very against the open-ended Code. If pressed, I might agree I still prefer the easy-to-understand “standard” of the “perfect” 10.0 maximum, but IG asserting their opinion as to the “decline” or subjective things like artistry and form as facts, is really irresponsible and that graphic is pretty ridiculous.

    At some point, you gotta let go of the past, stop wishing for what once was and get on board with what IS. It’s been more than a decade; time to let it go and move on.

    The open-ended Code does not, inherently, “limit artistry” The very idea of what is and isn’t artistic is a wholly subjective ideal, and I’d guess my version might look very different than Dwight Normile’s. On the other hand, I’d gather current gymnasts’ heroes and mine wouldn’t match either. Sport is an evolution. Embrace the change or get of the way.


  3. This is a ridiculous article. I will quote a few sections and provide my experience:

    – “And third, the new scores above 10.0 effectively eliminated any spontaneous, corporate crowd response, ”

    At all the competitions I’ve been to, the audience responds spontaneously to any great skill or on completion of a routine. The score rarely gets a response, most people don’t even look as they’re now watching the next routine.
    Plus Dwight’s claim that people need to now wait until the end of the rotation to see who’s winning is nonsense. For that to be true, under any points system, people would need to be noting down all the scores as they come. Basically no one ever does that. At most comps, most people had no idea who was winning until the end regardless of 10 points or open ended.

    “Now we watch seven-pass floor routines that move in fast motion. (Why men’s floor exercise is the only event with a 70-second time limit remains a mystery.) A routine that once included dynamic passes and original corner transitions is now a tumbling race, and one that often increases in speed near the end”

    Complaints about having to watch 7 pass tumbling routines surface every now and then. Now I watch a awful lot of gymnastics and I’ve only ever seen one person do 7 tumble passes. The use of one person’s unique routine composition as a example of what everyone is doing is obviously flawed.
    Plus to suggest routines used to have dynamic passes but now they don’t is absolute rubbish. The passes today are significantly more dynamic than before.
    Plus who misses the old corner moves? The man wave? The standing scale? Seriously, people want to see a standing scale at Olympic level? Let’s leave these to the children doing levels.

    “Is a two-tenth step seen as “Small” for Uchimura but “Medium” for an unknown from Slovakia? You can imagine the temptation of many a judge.”

    In what possible way was the 10 points system better placed to avoid this sort of bias? In actual fact, by having the non disputable difficulty portion of the score as the bigger portion, any bias has less of a impact that before.


    1. Agreed, literally everything Normile attributes to the open-ended Code, is actually a problem with gymnastics judging in general (score creep, name recognition, etc.) or his own personal tastes/preferences. It is pretty clear that, long before the 10.0 went away, gymnastics was moving towards more emphasis on skill value and less on arbitrary interpretations like “artistry” or “originality.”


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