As a spectator at a women’s gymnastics meet, have you ever wondered what the judges are writing down as they are watching the gymnasts perform their routines? Or how the judges remember what skills the gymnast did when they go to calculate their scores?
During a gymnast’s routine, judges are writing down two things: The first thing judges are writing down, also known as scripting, are the skills the gymnast is performing. The second thing judges are writing down are the deductions for errors made while the gymnast is performing these skills.
All gymnastics skills found in the Women’s Code of Points have a shorthand symbol associated with them. The Code of Points is a “dictionary” of gymnastics skills. The Code of Points lists all gymnastics skills for each of the women’s events; the skill’s shorthand symbol, a description of the skill, and the skill’s value. Using these shorthand symbols, judges script the skills performed by the gymnast as they watch the routine.
At first glance, the shorthand symbols look like a bunch of lines, circles, dashes, and scribbles on the judge’s paper, but upon closer inspection, they begin to look more like the skills that the gymnast has just performed.
Everyone remembers trying to do a cartwheel on the school playground, right? When performing a cartwheel you look like the letter “X”. Well, that is exactly what the shorthand symbol is for a cartwheel, an “X”!
As gymnastics skills become more difficult, some of the shorthand symbols also become more complex. At the same time, for other difficult gymnastics skills, a combination of basic symbols is used. When you watch the skill being performed, you can see the various parts and then script their individual symbols into the shorthand symbol of the skill performed.
For example, a full (1/1) twisting double back tuck on floor combines the shorthand symbol for a full (1/1) twist and a double back tuck.
Now that you know some of the basics about judging shorthand and scripting, see if you can put that knowledge to work.
Here are videos of the USA Gymnastics Women’s Level 4 Floor and Beam routines. While you watch the videos, see if you can match the skills being performed to the scripted routines below.
Level 4 Floor Routine:
Level 4 Beam Routine:
In future articles, I will discuss how judges come up their scores for the routines they are evaluating.
Sources: usagym.org, youtube.com