Gymnastics Judging – A Brief OverviewWritten by Murray Hughes
Whenever your gymnast attends a meet, be it regional, local, or otherwise, you probably realize that he or she is being judged on his or her performance. You may or may not like how panel rates your child’s routine, but rest assured that ancillary staff is there as an impartial and fair group which works together to offer unbiased scoring. This is where playing field of competition is at its most level. Granted, gymnastics judging is not a science, and there can be mistakes made. This is why it is always good to have an idea of what judges are looking at when they make their decisions. I'm here to help!
First, judges take a look at whether or not your gymnast has followed rules of attendance. Each meet may have a different dress code, but most typically, associations will ask that long hair be tied back close to head, that jewelry be removed, and that all clothing that may prove a safety issue be removed. If your gymnast is not in accordance with these rules, his or her participation may be interrupted until issue can be resolved. Barring that, judges’ rating is based entirely upon gymnastic performance. Since there are so many different kinds of gymnastics, we’ll just give you basics in common to all of them.
The next category judges usually look at is overall difficulty. In other words, if your gymnast is attempting a more advanced routine, then he or she will start off with more points than someone who is attempting a beginner’s routine. The more somersaults, vaults, flips, and so forth used, better chance of a good score; also, more difficult a position he or she uses for somersaults (piked or straight versus tucked), higher difficulty rating will be. Also, consideration is given to gymnast who makes use of more complex movements (usually termed ‘segments’ or ‘elements’); these are typically looked at in terms of degrees (180, 360, etc). The more twists and turns a gymnast does, more complicated routine.
Beyond complexity, judges look at execution. Something that is full of twists and turns and poorly executed will score lower than something that is simpler but perfectly executed. The criteria for measuring this aspect of gymnastics include stability (Did he or she waver in terminus of segment? Did he or she take an extra step or falter with any element?) and landings (Did he or she stumble? Did he or she hold position for no less than three seconds at end of routine?). Instability in any part of a routine can be disastrous - not only in terms of judging, but, indeed, in terms of safety. Most gymnasts learn, with time, to be very measured and precise. If they stumble when coming to a stop, they appear not to have last bit of polish that gives their routine extra ‘oomph’ it needs to pass with judges. Then, of course, if a gymnast doesn’t hold typical arms-up final position for more than three seconds at end of routine, points are deducted. These are just things to keep in mind.
Gymnastics and Eating DisordersWritten by Murray Hughes
Gymnastics can be a high-stress and high-maintenance sport for even most emotionally stalwart of children. After all, gymnastics pressures its participants for physical perfection -- for flawlessness of form in gymnastics routines and, sometimes, in appearance. You should always keep an eye on progress of your child or children. Meeting and opening up lines of communication with their coaches, speaking to their peers and their peers’ parents will help you keep watch over their physical and emotional states. Creating a network of eyes and ears like that will certainly take a load off of your mind, that’s for certain, especially if you find yourself unable to make all of your child’s meets or practices.
Emotional and Physical Distress
Emotional distress can most certainly develop as a result of peer judgment or insults and even from off-color comments made by coaches. You need to keep close watch over what happens here, because extreme emotional distress can result in more serious problems in future, including bulimia and anorexia, two of most common -- and most dangerous -- eating disorders known today. We will discuss those later, however. Be sure to talk to your child about how he or she is feeling. Talking will usually bring problems out into open, so that you can work toward correcting them and restoring confidence that is inherent in your child. Self confidence is one of many keys to good health and to success in gymnastics.
Physical distress is sometimes more easily spotted than emotional distress. If your child has been injured in an event or during practice, you can usually see bruises, scrapes, or swelling. Sometimes, though, physical distress in a gymnast can be somewhat puzzling. If your gymnast has suddenly taken ill, feels muscle cramps or stiffness, is fatigued all of time, or complains of general soreness, it may be wise to check up on his or her progress with coaches. Overexertion can definitely lead to problems--sometimes, it may even be necessary to decrease amount of strenuous exercise until conditions improve. In meantime, you should make sure that their nutrition is proper -- that they are eating enough, and, certainly, that they are taking in enough fluids.
Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that stems both from physical and emotional distress, in most case, as a result of judgment passed by peers or coaches or by society itself. In today’s world of stick-thin models, where appearance is everything, your gymnast may be pressured to drastically and quickly reduce body size. Typically, behavior associated with bulimics is binge eating and then purging. In other words, they may take in thousands of calories of fatty food, only to vomit it back up again; all while, they may also use laxatives. This will eat away at enamel of teeth, causing gums to recede (eventually, all of teeth may need to be removed), and also cause salivary glands to swell. The laxatives eventually cause rectal bleeding. A person who has this disorder may retreat to bathroom for long periods of time or keep large stashes of high-calorie food around house.