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In Gymnastics, what is the Start Value?

By Matthew F.
Updated May 23, 2024
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In gymnastics, the start value is based on the degree of difficulty of the routine being performed. The start value is derived from the ratings of each element of the routine, and includes the execution score to provide a gymnast’s gross score for a routine. A start value is used to help score equal executions of routines with different degrees of difficulty, and is based on a 9.40 point scale.

Gymnastics routines during competitions are divided into four or five different elements, comprising different skills. Each element has varying degrees of difficulty, based on a specific rating system. The degree of difficulty and execution for each element is added up to equal the start value for the routine.

If in a gymnastics competition, a gymnast does a hand spring, a very simple move, and does it perfectly, their execution will be scored perfectly. If in the same competition a different gymnast does a tsuk, a very difficult skill, and does it perfectly, their execution will also be scored perfectly. With only a score based on execution, the gymnasts would have tied the competition. With the start value scoring, the gymnast performing the tsuk would have started with a higher start value because of the more difficult move. The perfect execution scores would be added onto the start values, and the tsuk would score higher than the hand spring every time.

The start value is computed on a scale of 0.2 points for the first (A) move of the routine, 0.4 for the second (B), 0.6 for the third (C), and 0.8 for the fourth (D). Each letter-rated element has a number of exercises that can be performed at that certain level, progressing to higher difficulty moves lower in the alphabet. Another possible 2.0 points are included for the construction of the exercise, called the combination. The execution is out of a total of 4.4 points, and 0.6 points are available for bonus scoring, if another D- or E- rated move is attempted.

Gymnastics is scored by deducting points, not by adding them. At a 9.40 point start value, a judge can subtract points if a gymnast does not perform a particular letter-rated move, if a move is not executed properly, if the exercise is not constructed properly, or if a player lands out of bounds. The only points that can be added onto the start value are bonus points, and these points never exceed a level over 10. A perfect score in organized gymnastics competitions is extremely rare.

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Discussion Comments
By anon939152 — On Mar 12, 2014

The perfect score has been changed from a 10 to a 14. Saying "perfect 14" is not going to be as memorable as saying "perfect 10".

By snickerish — On Sep 18, 2011

I love watching gymnastic competition on television. It is amazing to see people in such great shape pull off spectacular stunts!

The start value is very important, otherwise a beginner gymnast may score as high as an expert gymnast, and that is just not fair.

I think it makes total sense in a sport with so many different moves and degrees of difficulty to have a start value to distinguish the difficulty of each move.

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