Is Scoring as Simple as 1-2-3?

August 12, 2016

It depends. When you watch football, you know that your team has scored when you hear the announcer say, “Goooooaaaalll!” When you watch a track and field competition, the first to cross the finish line wins. But when you see a gymnast perform at the Olympics, well, how do you know he or she has done well?

It’s a complicated calculation, so let’s break it down. Gymnasts are judged based on two large categories: difficulty and execution. There’s even a name for the panels (yes, we said panels) of judges who are in charge of these two categories. They are called the D Panel and E Panel. Two judges make up the D Panel. They look for how difficult the moves are and how the moves are connected. Did the gymnast connect two moves smoothly? Did she challenge herself with tough moves? These judges start with a score of zero and as a gymnast performs her routine, they add or subtract points. It’s like a check-off list with points next to each item.

Then there’s the category of execution. The five judges in this panel look for things like artistry (how beautiful was the routine), execution (how did the gymnast perform the move from start to finish?), and errors (missed a move? fell off the balance beam?). Every gymnast gets 10 points and judges take away points when they notice errors. Scores from both panels are then added together, resulting in a score anywhere between 13 to 16 points. Impressive, right? Oh and just in case there are any possible mistakes from the two panels, there’s a third panel of judges that checks to see that both panels scored the gymnast correctly.

Now that you know how to score a gymnastics performance, give it a go the next time you’re watching a gymnastics competition. Think you’ll give the competitors the same score as the official judges?