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In scoring routines in gymnastics, there is "theoretically no limit to the score a gymnast can achieve." However, the highest score judges can award for the execution of a routine is 10. Furthermore, "17" and "perfect 10" are often synonymous.

Given the former, has a score greater than 7 ever been awarded for the difficulty of a gymnast's routine? If theoretically possible, how does a gymnast's routine accomplish this?


A summary of the scoring system in gymnastics:

  • A panel of judges score the execution of the routine. This score starts at 10 and decreases with each deductable instance, such as taking a step when landing a dismount or falling off a balance beam.

  • Another panel of judges score the difficulty of the routine. This score starts at 0 and increases with every skill/combination performed.

A sample routine score:

Sample Routine Score

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You've covered most of the points but I'll try to add a bit of explanation around them now.

The scoring system is governed by the Code of Points.

The codes were overhauled in 2006 (following controversy in the 2004 games). Previously, perfect 10 was the best that a gymnast could score.

Using the new code:

10 is the absolute maximum that can be awarded for execution. The judges start at 10 and then deduct an amount for each error such as wobbles, balance issues, extra footsteps etc.

  • Small errors have a 0.1 deduction
  • Medium errors have a 0.3 deduction
  • Large errors have a 0.5 deduction
  • Falling from a piece of apparatus has a 1.0 deduction.

In addition to the execution (E) score, there is a separate panel of judges scoring the difficulty (D) score. This comprises of three elements: Difficulty Value (DV), Composition Requirements (CR) and Connection Value (CV).

The D-score (or Difficulty score) evaluates the content of the exercise on three criteria: the Difficulty Value (DV), Composition Requirements (CR) and Connection Value (CV).

  • DV: The difficulty value of the eight highest value elements of the routine, including the dismount, are added together. Elements are ranked depending on their difficulty; for example on beam, a back layout salto to two feet is given a difficulty of E, and a back layout salto with a full twist is given a difficulty of G. For a G skill a gymnast earns 0.7; for an E, he or she earns 0.5 points.

  • CR: Gymnasts must demonstrate skills from five required Element Groups on each apparatus. A gymnast may use skills to fulfill the DV and the CR simultaneously. For each CR presented, 0.5 points are awarded. A maximum score of 2.50 points may be earned here.

  • CV: Additional points are given for connections of two or more elements of specific value, with 0.1 or 0.2 points apiece.

So, with that scoring system, there is no upper-limit to the number of points that a gymnast can accumulate on the D-score.

As for gymnasts who have scored (or attempted to score) more than 7.0, I can think of the following:

  • Li Shanshan, whose difficulty rating was 7.3 on the beam
  • Nastia Liukin, who has an uneven bars routine of 7.7 and scored 17.1 with it in the 2008 Visa Championships

If you fancy trying Liukin's routine yourself(!) it is:

Glide kip cast to HS (KCHS), Stalder shoot to HB (Ray); KCHS, Pike stalder 1/2 to eagle grip, Eagle endo, Ono, Healy, Ono 1/2, Gienger; KCHS, Pike stalder, Tkachev; KCHS, Pak salto; KCHS 1/2, Toe shoot to HB; KCHS, Giant 1/2 to eagle, double front 1/2 dismount

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  • Liukin's routine is the only score over 17 in that competition, and it could have been a 17.7! Astonishing! – user527 Jul 31 '12 at 12:43
  • @edmastermind29 - It's phenomenal, really! – Ste Jul 31 '12 at 12:56

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