Olympic Gymnastics: Rhythmic Gymnastics Rules and Judging

The Code of Points is quite complicated -- but luckily, you can enjoy being a spectator without knowing every single rule. Here are the basics.


Rhythmic gymnastics has a top score of 20.0 for each apparatus:

  • The Execution Score (E): Starts at a 10.0 and deductions are taken for technical faults (such as catching the apparatus incorrectly or losing the apparatus)
  • The Final Composition Score (A+D divided by 2): The Artistic Score (A) has a maximum of 10.0 and is based on the music and choreography. The Difficulty Score (D) starts at 0 and builds to a maximum of 10.0 depending on the skills performed.

Judge for Yourself

It’s easy to identify great routines without knowing every nuance of the Code. When watching a routine, be sure to look for:

  • Good Form and Execution: In elements such as leaps and jumps, a gymnast's toes should be pointed, her legs should be straight and she should maintain a tightness in her body. Each skill should look planned.
  • Control of the Apparatus: The gymnast should keep her equipment moving, and should look as if she has complete control of it. Dropping the apparatus is a deduction. If the equipment rolls away or off the floor, more penalties are incurred.
  • Flexibility: Rhythmic gymnasts should achieve a minimum of an 180-degree split on split leaps and jumps, and oftentimes they go much further. A great rhythmic gymnast will exhibit flexibility in her back, legs, and shoulders.
  • Choreography: The intricacies of movement are very important in rhythmic gymnastics. Each routine should be a performance -- and the gymnast’s music should be an important part of the routine, not simply used as background music.
  • The Uniqueness of the Routine: A great gymnast will perform a routine that looks different from the rest. It will have something special about it -- risky throws and catches, complicated choreography, extreme flexibility or skills that are simply unique from others performed in the competition.