New Scoring Procedures, Balk Definition Highlight 2018-19 Girls Gymnastics Rules Changes

SOURCE: National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 2, 2018) — New rules to clarify scoring procedures and redefine a balk are among the notable changes made by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee that will take effect for the 2018-19 season. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The reorganization of Rules 7-3-3, 8-3-3 and 9-3-3 included an objective method for evaluating composition.

“Composition is the framework of the exercise,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee. “Good composition should demonstrate a variety of changes in movement and direction, tempo and rhythm. The reorganization of the composition deductions provides judges with a list of guidelines to consider when evaluating composition in each event.”

Several rules were impacted as a result of redefining “balk.” As part of the committee’s rules changes, a balk on all apparatus was redefined in Rule 1.

“The new definition of the balk clarifies what an incomplete attempt is on the vault, bars and beam,” Cochran said. “The new rules book walks judges through the specifics of a balk on each apparatus in the rule for each event and the supplemental information.”

A balk is now defined as follows: “On vault, an incomplete attempt that results in a fall during the run, stops mid-run, runs off the runway or contacts the board, hand placement mat, board safety mat or vault table without coming to a rest or support on top of the vault table. On bars and beam, an incomplete attempt to mount without touching the board or apparatus or running underneath the apparatus.”

The changes in a balk also impact several other rules, including Rule 7-2-7, which introduces a balk and its application to the section on event description for uneven bars.

The committee approved changes for a clear back hip circle based on the rationale that Rule 7-3-4c specifies a deduction for a clear hip circle that does not end at 45 degrees. An exception was added to Rule 7-3-4c(9), stating up to a 0.40 deduction is the result of “insufficient amplitude of a clear hip circle.”

New elements for girls gymnastics were approved in Rules 8-6-2 and 8-6-3 to clarify that Advanced High Superiors exceeding minimum requirements will also receive Advanced High Superior credit.

Among the new elements are No. 2.111b in Rule 8-6-2, stag/double stag lp/jp; No. 211b, stag/double stag lp/jp w/ ½; and Nos. 3.202a and 3.202b in Rule 8-6-3. No. 3.202a is a 1/1 turn (360°) with hand holding leg between horizontal and 45 degrees above horizontal; while the latter is a 1/1 turn (360°) with free leg between horizontal and 45 degrees below horizontal.

“The introduction of new elements in the rules book helps keep up with current trends for high school gymnastics,” Cochran said. “The majority of the rules changes added to the 2018-20 rules book are to help provide clarification to existing rules and better understanding for high school judges and coaches.”

A complete listing of all rules changes is available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Gymnastics – Girls.”

According to the 2016-17 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, 1,562 schools offered girls gymnastics in 2016-17 and 17,915 girls participated nationwide.

This press release was written by Cody Porter, a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at

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