Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fixing Floor

Due to low difficulty ratings on required skills, long routines and a lack of endurance, and the absurd rules the Federation of International Gymnastics has implemented,  floor has become the lowest scoring apparatus in Women's Gymnastics, by quite a large margin.  It appears that those with endless energy and springs for legs are the ones that seem to excel (I am looking at you, Simone Biles).  Let's look at the All Around Final from the past Olympic Games, we can see 6 of the top 10 athletes in the All Around Final yielded their lowest score on floor, including the gold and silver medalists Gabby Douglas and Viktoria Komova, the latter who performed her best routine on floor to date and stepped off of the mat on her vault.  Why is this and how can we fix this?  The current rules are preventing gymnasts like Aly Raisman and Brenna Dowell from maximizing their strengths in All Around competition, while minimizing the damage done to weaker floor workers like Viktoria Komova and Kyla Ross.

The Current Code of Points on Floor prohibits the high scores on floor that we see on vault and bars.  The current rules in place require a minimum of three dance moves be credited for the difficulty score.  This was intended to prevent gymnasts from maxing out their D-Score by doing insane tumbling run, and thus, prevent injury.  How ever, the Code of Points does not give any leaps, jumps, or turns a difficulty rating over a D, with the exception of a triple wolf turn and a quadruple turn, skills that are almost never competed.  When an elite gymnast and coach create routines, they rarely count elements less than a D for their final score, however, they are forced to do so to meet the requirements.  The only way to boost D-Scores, and thus final scores, is to raise the values of dance elements.
Also, the rule that will be put into place this month states that one can not use the same diagonal to complete a tumbling pass was designed to prevent back-to-back tumbling runs, a trend that was prevalent in the '90s, is sure to limit the number of tumbling passes one does in a floor routine.  In a routine that has a 1:30 time requirement, many gymnasts struggle to fit choreography, leaps, jumps, and four tumbling runs into that time period.  By requiring time to move from corner to corner, many gymnasts may drop one tumbling pass all together, lowering D-Scores and floor scores.

In a floor routine with a time component, endurance plays an issue.  As I previously mentioned, gymnasts have a lot to do in a short amount of time, and the requirements set by the FIG do not help.  By the time elite gymnasts are ready for their last pass, they are so exhausted, the gymnasts hardly ever do more than the required D-level dismount that you see occur on the other events.  On floor, gymnasts do the bare minimum, which leads to lower difficulty scores.

When the FIG removed the "Lunge Rule", more deductions occur.  Possibly the most controversial rules of the past quadrennium was the rule that states gymnasts must stick their tumbling passes.  This rule ended an era of the sport, and created more deductions.  I can understand the reasoning, a stuck landing is the best indication of a truly controlled pass, but not only does it lower floor scores, it causes more stress on the body and can lead to more injuries.    

How can the Federation of International Gymnastics fix these issues on floor?  If dance skills had higher ratingings on floor, scores would increase due to a higher start score.  Low difficulties are the main reason for low scores, not because a gymnast is incapable of competing harder skills, because it is impossible to get as high of a start score on floor compared to other events.  By raising the value of dance skills, higher scores can be achieved and will balance out the separation of points in competitions.  By re-implementing the lunge allowed out of tumbling passes, less deductions will occur, and can lead to a rise of floor scores.


  1. bringing back the lunge wouldn't be fair... imagine if 2 athletes had the same start value and one of them stuck all their tumbling passes but the other with a lunge outscored them.

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