Men’s Gymnastics Study Guide 2006-2008

NOTE: Judge Doug Hills has updated his excellent CD-ROM for the men’s code.

Updates, available on Doug’s web site, are made three or four times a year. These are free including rule changes, new videos, new features and corrections.

It covers all skills in the new code of points; 500 video illustrations, 1200 skill displays and over 750 questions & answers. The CD is a great resource for coaches, judges, athletes and fans. It includes two kinds of shorthand symbols: FIG and a better one created by Mike Cook.

The video player has slow motion and will play full screen.

There is a second player to show side-by-side video comparisons. You can play your own video and compare against his library of videos. Now that’s cool!

More details on Doug’s Sports Training Systems website.

Doug is working on German, Chinese and Japanese versions. And looking for a good French translator who knows gymnastics. You can email him directly at douglashills @

Cost — US$95.00 from Amazon.

The women’s version should be ready soon.


“National Survey of Judges Fees” – USA 2005

Men’s Gymnastics Judge Tom Varner collected a good deal of data on 2004-05 season rates, publishing his report May 2005.

He compared remuneration of 20 Men’s National Gymnastics Judges Association (NGJA) members.

  • not a single association reported using the USAG Rules and Policies fee schedule
  • 1/3 of the associations paid / routine. (between $1 and $1.35 each)
  • 2/3 of the associations paid based on the time duration of the session (90 – 150min scheduled / session)
  • 22-37 routines / hour is typical
  • mileage payment varied a great deal
  • Download the entire report: Judging fee analysis – Tom Varner 2005.pdf


    National Gymnastics Judges Association USA (Men)

    We would be happy to post more data on judging remuneration on this blog. Leave a comment below.

    Men’s judging reimbursement in Oregon

    The new Artistic code of points was put in place largely as a reaction to the judging fiasco of the Men’s competition at the 2004 Olympics.

    The previous rules were blamed for that debacle — though personally I point at incompetence and corruption from the FIG Men’s Technical committee on down.

    What we really need is not endless revision of the technical regulations. We need better judges.

    But how to improve judging?

    A start would be to remunerate judges “fairly”.

    In Canada in 2006 almost every coach at our competitions is paid. Yet many of our judges take days away from work in order to participate. It costs many of our judges cash every time they agree to “volunteer” to judge a competition. This is a problem in Canada. I’ve spoken with the Executive Directors of Gymnastics Canada and Gymnastics Alberta.

    Compare what the judges in your region are paid against what they would get if they relocate to Oregon:


    NATIONAL CERTIFIED – US$75 / session

    FIG CERTIFIED – US$90 / session

    Oregon Gymnastics Judges Association 2007
    Judge Reimbursement Schedule

    Per Diem: Breakfast $10, Lunch $15, Dinner $20 for judges from out-of-town.

    Doug Hills from Oregon explained that this gives just a simple overview of approximate rates. The details are more complicated.

    In fact, $10 from each session goes back to the Judges Association which uses those funds for administration and judge development. Over the course of a season most judges collect about $1000. A few as much as $2000. There has never been a cheque for more than $2500.


    Leave a comment below if you wish to compare what judges at your competitions are paid.

    teach athletes to “make good decisions”

    Most of the top coaches I know do not allow athletes enough input into their own training. Elite coaches are “controlling” by nature.

    This is short-term gain for long-term pain in many cases.

    decisions.gifThe best case scenario is an athlete who feels ownership of their own career — with the coach as their most important adviser. Certainly by age 16 the athlete should be making most of the decisions.

    You know coaches like this. Fantastic with up-and-coming gymnasts. But who cannot work with successfully with young adults.

    Coaches must realize that children need to learn how to make good decisions as they learn how to do a Tsukahara. It takes many years of progressions. Many small steps.

    Problem is … it’s easier to teach a Tsuk than how to make “good decisions”.

    I subscribe to Tom Burgdorf’s Parenting An Athlete Newsletter. Good advice, delivered by email.

    Decision Making

    Do we want our children, athletes, to learn to make good decisions? Then we need to allow them to practice in a controlled situation. I believe that the more decision making situations they are put in the better. Small decisions but definitely decisions. They will eventually be 12 years old with more decisions out of our control than we would like. Better to train them now.

    They will be asked:

    Want to pass a note in class?
    Want to take a puff on a cigarette?
    Want to take a sip of beer?
    Want to skip class?
    Want to waste time in practice?
    Want to sneak out of the hotel room after everyone is asleep?

    We won’t always be there. Scary thought? Life. We prepare them to make their own decisions which we hope will be reasonable decisions that they can live with. Can we keep them under our wing, under our control, forever? Not likely. Prepare them now so we can sleep later.

    Whoops, Wrong Decision

    Just because we put them in a situation where they can make a decision doesn’t mean we have to abide by their decision. We let them make a choice but we don’t let them have the final word. We guide them. And no, it isn’t hurtful for them to be told that they didn’t make the right decision. That is part of our job. Let them make the decision in minor situations and let them “practice” making a decision in a bigger situation.

    We are still the adults. We are still the people who know what is best for these “children.” Practicing decision making is a lot better than allowing them the ultimate control over the decision. So let them practice and learn from their correct choices and their not so correct choices.

    Tom Burgdorf

    You can sign up to get Tom’s Parenting Newsletter by email from the Gymnastics Business Newsletter page. It’s free.

    poem – handspring on beam

    Thanks and Happy New Year to Charlie Amerosa who submitted a poem describing the experience of a gymnast overcoming a fear problem.

    The Beast

    Homework is done, time to get in the car
    Back out of the driveway, the gym’s not that far
    Heading down the road, my stomach’s in a knot
    What group will I have, do they know I need a spot?

    Slouching in the back seat, staring out into space
    I used to be excited, but now that’s not the case
    Mom interrupts, “let’s go honey, we’re running a bit late”
    I snap out of my trance, not feeling too great.

    Walking through the door, my palms feeling wet
    Nodding at some friends, stretch hasn’t started just yet
    Put my bag in the cubby, then on the floor to run,
    My eyes glance at beam, this wont be much fun

    You see I’m level 7 now and struggling with a new skill
    I’m not even 12 years old, but I feel over the hill
    It’s the back handspring on beam that’s dragging me down
    Haven’t smiled in weeks, have a permanent frown

    The groups have been split, level 7’s to BEAM
    It could not have been worse, it’s like a bad dream
    As we walk on over, I stare at the beast
    Of all the events, I love you the least

    Coach’s eyes meet mine, “go warm up your back”
    “What a great opportunity, to get you on track”
    Does he know that I’m scared, having a panic attack?
    I have the desire, it’s the courage I lack

    It’s my turn to go, I’m trying not to cry
    My eyes feel wet, my throat is so dry
    As I climb on the beam, my mind filled with fears
    I set to go and….get nothing but tears

    As a tear hits the beam, I’m in a frozen trance
    My heart wants to go, my mind says no chance
    Coach says “get down, let me explain something to you”
    “When level 10’s are afraid, this is what they do”

    “They SET and they GO, they don’t stop to think”
    “Their arms go up, they jump back in a blink”
    “They tighten their mind, if they hesitate they know”
    “The fear will get in, then they just won’t go”

    “Use your natural ability, you’ll know what to do”
    “You have to trust yourself, as much as we trust you”
    “Take a deep breath, and so there’s no misunderstanding”
    “The only thought you should have, is to stick your landing”

    Back up on the beam, moving kind of slow
    My mind starts racing, then I hear “Set…go”
    Wipe my hands on my legs, raise my arms over head
    This is the moment I always freeze, but this time, instead..

    I flew up, arched back, my hands hit just right
    As I fly over, I push hard and I fight to stay tight
    And in an instant, and to the amazement of all
    I had done a back handspring, I did not fall!

    My teammates are all cheering, from coach a warm smile
    I stuck it, I stuck it, I’m staying up here a while!
    So the beast is gone, and now I love beam
    It was in me the whole time, or so it would seem

    Even though “SET…GO helped me, to get over my fear
    There was something special, that I needed to hear
    I knew all along, what I was supposed to do
    But what really gave me courage, were the words “We trust you”

    Charlie Amerosa

    Edgewood, New York
    Email Flipr110 @

    photo – Christchurch School of Gymnastics

    vaulting mechanics

    Dr. Siros Prassas is the editor of a good site for those interested in sport science.

    For example, here’s an article he posted on the biomechanics of vaulting.

    Should be very interesting. Right?

    But most coaches do not have enough time for this kind of data.


    Are your eyes getting blurry?

    In this blog we strive to KISS. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

    Here are the most important points I got from the article:

  • speed of the sprint (at the board) is critical

  • many variables of body position and muscular contraction must lead to the optimal position when leaving the board

  • the gymnast both absorbs (on the “block”) and generates force on the horse

  • few vaulters are able to stick the landing. Forward facing landings are more difficult than backward. More gymnasts over rotate than under rotate. Female gymnasts are worse than males on landing.
  • The article is OK though I disagreed with some other points not listed above.

    Academic biomechanical analysis is often of limited value. I’d much rather listen to an elite coach who knows the most important conditioning and drills. Not every variable.

    The best reason to check out the article is to watch a video of an amazing Handspring Double Front used as a model: Vaulting Mechanics – Dr. Spiros Prassas – Associate Professor, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State Unversity

    confusion about twisting

    Larry Gleason knows that many coaches are confused on two points:

    • a cartwheel initiated with the RIGHT foot forward and the RIGHT hand down first is actually considered a LEFT twisting skill

    Watch the left shoulder move backwards.

    • the barani should be taught as a front somersault with a late twist

    This one is getting widely understood. It is hard to find a coach anywhere who teaches early twisting.

    If you are clear on those two points, good on you. 🙂

    If not, check my article on Tramp – Barani Confusion


    ideal beam mats

    The best I’ve ever seen is the matting at the Christchurch School of Gymnastics in New Zealand.

    I was there for installation, custom fit carpeted mats held tightly together with wide Velcro. It was done by a local mat maker who took pride in producing equipment at a far lower price than the major companies, but of superior quality.

    Even so, this was an expensive project. But worth the cost, we felt.

    A lot of minor, dumb injuries occur due to irregular beam mats.

    The only downside to this set-up is that there is no way to change the position of the beams. They are locked in.



    Venturelli shoes for men’s Floor Exercise

    BP-01.JPGThe Canadian men’s team has been tearing it up on Floor and Vault in international competition.

    Not sure the shoes should get all the credit, but the Olympic Champion Kyle Shewfelt swears by his Venturellis. (Without socks.)

    The Canadians are sponsored by the Italian high end sport slipper manufacturer Venturelli through distributor Bermo Sport.

    details –

    They carry a wide selection of shoes for Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline, as well.