The General Rules of Gymnastics
Gymnastics rules may vary considerably depending upon the league and competition skill level. However, general rules exist in several areas of the sport. Having a general set of guidelines across the sport (or art, for that matter), affords amateur and professional gymnasts alike relatively consistent parameters and scoring system
Typically, a gymnast must have a current medical and release form on file to take part in competitions. Judges may deduct fractions of a point for undisciplined behavior by a competitor or his coach, and there may be a deduction for competing out of designated order.
A gymnast may not leave the arena during competition. A coach is obliged to put her gymnast's safety first. Gymnasts and coaches both should not interfere with another competitor's safety.
A coach should not keep a team member from participating in activities because of age, sex, race, sexual orientation or any other discriminating factors.
A gymnast must create her own routines at an appropriate skill level for her degree of difficulty. Coaching during routines is commonly prohibited.
Generally, a gymnast must compete in the same skill level for all activities in a given competition. Only one attempt is generally allowed for each apparatus, unless an interruption occurs that is not the gymnast's fault. Women's vault has occasional exceptions, when two attempts are allowed. If a gymnast's grip tears during his routine, he may repeat it in certain circumstances.
Spotting and Additional Aid Rules
Spotters are typically allowed to stand near rings, bar or mat and can only intervene to prevent accidents. Fractions of a point may be deducted if a spotter intervenes, depending on competition level. Sometimes a spotter is permitted to help a gymnast into his starting position for events like the rings.
A gymnast may be allowed to wear hand bandages and leather grips for support. He may also use a small amount of chalk on his hands and feet for stability and may also use a bar-height adaptor, if needed. Various accommodations exist for a visually and/or hearing impaired competitor.
A judge panel usually scores gymnastics competitions. Depending on the level and league, there may be some judges (usually two) measuring routine difficulty, while perhaps six more evaluate performance and execution. Judges evaluate routines on a ten-point scale.
Fractions of a point are taken off for falling off an apparatus and other errors. For each apparatus, points are capped at the number of a team's gymnasts multiplied by ten.
- gymnast competing on pommel image by Galina Barskaya from Fotolia.com