The Level 2 bar routine is short and sweet. This can make it tough to tell why the score is lower than expected! Surprisingly, there can be a lot of little deductions hiding in that short routine. What should gymnasts focus on to get that big score? Read on and we’ll take a closer look into Level 2 bars.
How a Bar Routine Is Evaluated
Each skill in the Level 2 bar routine has specific deductions for each skill. These deductions relate to the expected technique of the skill. In addition to these deductions, there are general execution deductions that judges can apply to all skills. We’ll talk more about those in a minute. Finally, a judge can take general routine deductions, which are deductions for the overall impression of the routine. If you’re curious about that, here’s an article that discusses general deductions in detail.
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General Deductions for Skills
General execution deductions can occur during any major element (skill) in a compulsory routine. Here is a list of general execution deductions that could be taken during the Level 2 bar routine:
- Foot form – 0.05
- Leg separation – Up to 0.20
- Body alignment/position/posture in major elements – Up to 0.20
- Bent arms or legs (max deduction at 90° bend) – Up to 0.30
- Balance errors – Up to 0.30
- Fall (on or off the apparatus) – 0.50
- Repositioning of hands in support or feet in squat on – 0.10
- Alternate hand grasp – 0.20
- Extra cast or swing – 0.30 (maximum 0.50 if >1)
- Supplementary support to regain position – 0.30
- Insufficient internal body amplitude – up to 0.20
- Insufficient external amplitude away from bar – 0.20
- Brush/touch on apparatus or mat with foot or feet – Up to 0.10
- Hit on apparatus with foot – 0.20
- Hit on mat with feet – 0.30
- Full weight on mat with feet – 0.50
You can see that larger errors result in larger deductions. It’s more costly to fall off the apparatus than to forget to point your toes. However, small errors repeated over several skills can also add up. For instance, a gymnast might have a small knee bend and a body position error (0.10 each) on every skill in her routine. After making these errors on all 6 skills in the routine, she has just lost 1.2 in deductions!
On bars, using good technique and body position will minimize many deductions. Don’t sacrifice technique to meet the amplitude requirements. The first suggestion I would give anyone looking to improve their score is to look at a video of your routine. Next, try to clean up little knee bends, arm bends, and foot form errors. This can make a big difference in your final score!
Level 2 Bar Skills
Mount: Glide Swing, Pullover
The mount for the Level 2 bar routine has two parts: a glide swing and a pullover. Here are the main points to know about each of these skills.
The gymnast should jump off both feet at the same time. Failure to do so results in a 0.10 deduction. The feet should lead during the glide swing (up to 0.10 deduction).
The glide swing can be performed in either a straddled or piked position. If a straddle glide is performed, the feet must close at the end of the forward swing (up to 0.10 deduction), and they should remain together throughout the backswing. Insufficient extension during a straddle or pike glide swing will result in an up to 0.20 deduction.
If the gymnast performs a run-out glide swing, it is a flat 0.30 deduction.
General deductions such as bent arms (up to 0.30), bent legs (up to 0.30), foot form (0.05), and leg separation (up to 0.20) also apply.
It’s allowable to use a springboard or mount trainer mat for the glide swing, but be sure to pull the board/mat so the gymnast does not land on it at the end of the glide. If she does land on it, it is a 0.30 deduction for unallowable matting/springboard.
The gymnast may punch directly into the pullover, or she may pause briefly on the floor. Be sure to keep the hands on the bar between the glide and the pullover, or a 0.10 deduction applies. There is also a 0.10 deduction for each hop, step, or bounce between the glide and the pullover.
The pullover should start with both legs lifting upward at the same time. If the legs lift one at a time, there is a flat 0.30 deduction. The chin is allowed to touch the bar, but if it rests on the bar, there is a flat 0.30 deduction for a supplemental support. The arms will naturally bend during the pullover, then they should straighten, so that the gymnast finishes in an extended front support (up to 0.10 deduction).
Common general deductions during the pullover are bent legs (up to 0.30), leg separation (up to 0.20), and foot form (0.05).
Sometimes a gymnast will fall on her pullover. If she is unable to get back up on her own, the coach can spot her. She won’t receive a spotting deduction in this case, just the deduction for the fall and incomplete element. However, if the coach spots the first attempt at the pullover, the gymnast will receive a deduction of 0.90 (0.50 spot and 0.40 for the value of the pullover), plus execution deductions.
There are no amplitude deductions for the casts in Level 2 bars. Casts should always be performed with a straight-hollow body position and straight arms. At this level, a straddle cast is not allowed, and would receive an up to 0.20 deduction for a leg separation. Specific deductions for the cast include incorrect body alignment (up to 0.20) and lack of control when returning to the bar (up to 0.10). General deductions such as bent legs, bent arms, and head alignment are also common during the cast.
Next, the gymnast will perform a second cast, just like the first one, prior to the back hip circle. The deductions are exactly the same for both casts.
Back Hip Circle
The back hip circle should be performed with a straight-hollow body position (up to 0.20) and neutral head alignment (up to 0.10). The hips or upper thighs should stay in contact with the bar (up to 0.20). The circle should be continuous (up to 0.10). General deductions such as bent arms, bent legs, leg separation, and head alignment also apply to the back hip circle.
Sometimes a gymnast will have difficulty making it all the way around, and she will break her body position, piking and bending her arms to complete the circle. In this scenario, she would receive up to 0.20 for the pike, up to 0.30 for bent arms, 0.20 for hips/upper thighs not staying in contact with the bar, likely the up to 0.10 for lack of continuity, and any other noticeable form deductions. If she is unable to connect the back hip circle to the underswing dismount, a rhythm deduction could also be applied.
The gymnast should maintain a straight-hollow body position during the underswing (up to 0.20), with a neutral head position (up to 0.10). The thighs should touch the bar on the underswing, but if the hips touch the bar, there is a flat 0.20 deduction.
There are also a few amplitude deductions for the underswing. There is an up to 0.20 deduction for lack of amplitude (height) in flight, up to 0.20 for insufficient extension of the body in flight, and up to 0.10 for lack of distance.
If the gymnast is able to do the underswing with decent body position, she will probably receive fewer deductions than if she performs the sole circle. This is simply because there are fewer deductions to take on the underswing. In addition, the gymnast just needs to maintain one body position, rather than showing three different positions (tuck, pike, hollow) during the same skill. The underswing is also more progressive, in my opinion, because the gymnast will need it for Level 4 and 5 bars. So, unless you have a gymnast with an amazing sole circle, work the underswing, and you’ll see the benefits now and later.
General Routine Deductions
At the end of the Level 2 bar routine, judges evaluate the entire routine on general categories. There are fewer general routine deductions for bar routines compared with beam and floor routines. However, these deductions are still used to separate the great routines from the very good. Dynamics is the primary general deduction that applies to a bar routine. A routine with good dynamics is tight and powerful. The gymnast makes the routine look easy. Judges can also deduct for errors in rhythm between elements on bars. The entire routine should be connected and smooth. Rhythm deductions of up to 0.20 can be applied each time the gymnast pauses or stops.
The Level 2 bar routine is quick, but detailed! There are many places a gymnast can improve to bump their score up a bit, and some of those fixes can be pretty easy. Keep working on strength, form, and rhythm, and those Level 2 bars will be so pretty!
USA Gymnastics Compulsory Handbook, 2021-2029.