|IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2017 NCAA men’s gymnastics season may feel a little different thanks to a major rule change in the scoring system.
The change eliminates an element category in five of the six events, meaning that each gymnast will do one less skill in their routine.
“There used to be five element groups; five specific types of skills that you had to do,” said University of Iowa head coach JD Reive. “There are now four element groups. You will still see a variety of skills performed, but they just combined a couple of the groups.”
The result is that each gymnast’s score will be .500 lower than before and as a team, scores will be roughly 15 points lower. This change is just the most recent that the gymnasts have to get used to.
“The rules change every four years after the Olympics,” said senior Mark Springett. “Due to these new rules the United States Gymnastics Association (USGA) and the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) put out, the scoring system will be different this year. This is not new, we’ve seen the scoring system change before.”
The last major scoring change was in 2006 when the USGA and FIG changed to their current system from a 10.0 format.
“The new code and scoring change will have a major impact on college gymnastics from here on out,” said senior Andrew Botto, a team captain. “They devalued a lot of skills on all six events and changed the way combination passes on floor are counted. They also made a lot of specific rules regarding what skills you can do together for parallel bars and high bar.”
The good news for the fans is that the gymnastics you see will not look any different.
“The fans will not notice it. They are still looking for great gymnastics and fun, high-flying stuff,” Reive said. “You will only notice it once you start looking into the nuances and the math behind it.”
For fans, the easiest way to make sense of the change is to take a score you see this year and add .500 to it to get a score from last year.
The hard part will be for the gymnasts who had to sit down over the summer, read all the new rules, and change their routines accordingly.
“We had to take a couple of days to read and understand the new code and skills to maximize our potential at competitions,” Botto said. “There are a lot of skills that our team had to change and adjust, but being able to do that over summer was beneficial because we had a lot of time to play with new skills and see what works best in our routines.”
“Everybody is in this same position where they have to change their routine construction, so I expect the first two meets to be somewhat of an adjustment period,” Reive said.
The Hawkeyes debut their 2017 season at the annual Windy City Invitational, hosted by UIC, on Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. (CT).