What makes a great compulsory beam routine? It turns out, there are several components to it. I’ve been judging Level 3 beam routines for over 20 years (gosh, can that even be true?). Although the routines have changed a few times, many things have stayed the same. Today, we’ll take a deep dive into the details of the current Level 3 beam routine!
Introduction to Level 3 Beam
Beam can be challenging for many gymnasts, especially if staying on the apparatus is their main fear. It’s hard to think about performing all the skills correctly, when staying on the beam takes all your energy!
Have no fear, you can have it all! Today, we’ll take a look at the necessary components of each skill, and what to do to minimize deductions.
If you’re not sure whether a beam routine has what it needs, ask yourself these three questions:
- Major elements – are they performed well, with straight legs, straight arms, tight body positions? Do leaps, jumps, and hops have good amplitude? Does the routine show good posture during all skills?
- Are the major elements free from specific element deductions (more details below)? Has attention been paid to the smaller details (kicks, levers, releve, arm positions)?
- Has the gymnast minimized her deductions in the general categories (text, rhythm, artistry, posture, etc.)? Here’s more information on general deductions.
By the end of this article, you’ll have the tools to be able to answer YES to all three of these questions!
Level 3 Beam Skills
The Level 3 beam routine consists of the following skills:
- Front support fish pose mount
- ½ turn
- Stretch jump, stretch jump
- Arabesque (45)
- Straight leg leap 90
- Pivot turn, pivot turn
- Cartwheel to side handstand, ¼ turn dismount
Does your gymnast need a practice beam for home? Check out the recommendations in The Best Gymnastics Beams for Home!
General Deductions for Level 3 Beam
General execution deductions are ones that can be taken on any major element (skill) in a compulsory routine. Here is a list of general execution deductions that could be taken during a beam 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 (each)
- Grasping beam to avoid a fall – 0.30
- Fall (on or off the apparatus) – 0.50
- Failure to mark the passe position in releve at turn completion – 0.05
- Failure to contract or extend when indicated – Up to 0.10
- Leg swing/kick not to horizontal or above when required – Up to 0.10
- Incorrect leg alignment in arabesque – Up to 0.10
- Failure to perform turns in high releve – Up to 0.10
- Uneven leg separation in leaps/jumps – Up to 0.20
- Failure to keep arms by ears during entrance/exit of slow acro elements – 0.05
- Failure to land with feet together on 2-foot landing of jumps – Up to 0.10
- Insufficient split – Up to 0.20
- Incomplete turns – Up to the value of the element (usually 0.40)
Technique Changes for the 2021-2029 Compulsory Cycle
There have been some changes made in this cycle of compulsory routines. Here are the changes you’ll see throughout all of the beam routines:
- No kicks into acro elements
- No straight leg entry into acro elements
- Two choices for acro entries: lunge entrance or mountain climber entrance
- Two choices for acro exits: lunge exit or step-in exit to straight stand
If you’ve coached prior to 2021, you’ll notice that these are different from past compulsory routines, but there are more options now to allow for flexibility in coaching techniques. Win-win for everyone!
Specific Deductions for Level 3 Beam Skills
In addition to the general deductions just discussed, each skill has specific deductions that can be applied just to that skill. Here’s a breakdown of the specific element deductions.
Front Support Fish Pose Mount
The Level 3 beam routine begins with a front support fish pose mount.
A fish pose is a pose in which one leg is straight and the other is bent, with the knees together. The gymnast must show an extended body in the front support position, or an up to 0.10 deduction can be applied.
An up to 0.10 deduction can be taken if the transition from the mount to stand is not continuous. If the gymnast performs a knee scale as she transitions to standing, it is a flat 0.30 deduction. A knee scale is a pose in which the gymnast is on one knee and the back leg is lifted off the beam. Make sure to drop the leg straight down to the side of the beam to avoid this deduction!
Next, the gymnast will perform a passe pose before the handstand.
The gymnast can use a mountain climber or lunge entrance into the handstand, and she can step down into a lunge or to a straight stand. The gymnast should keep the arms by the ears on the way in and out of the handstand (0.05 each).
The handstand in Level 3 must be in vertical, but no hold is required. An up to 0.30 deduction is applied if the gymnast does not reach vertical. There is an up to 0.10 deduction if the legs do not close side by side.
The hands must be next to each other, with a flat 0.10 deduction for staggered hands.
If the body is piked or arched, an up to 0.20 deduction can be taken. I also often see errors in head position, bent arms, and shoulder angle, which can result in deductions.
Back Lunges and Passe Pose
This sequence is not considered a major element, which means that general deductions apply. I might make a note on my paper if the gymnast performs the choreography with poor posture, if her lock is not in releve, or if her rhythm is poor.
½ turn (Heel-Snap)
The heel-snap turn is indicated in forward passe (flat 0.10 for incorrect leg position). If the gymnast does not use the heel-snap turn technique, it is a flat 0.30 deduction.
The heel must lower to the beam at the end of the turn, or it is a 0.05 deduction.
Other common deductions on the ½ turn are lack of releve, poor posture, bent support leg, and foot form. If the turn is incomplete, a deduction can be applied for an incomplete element.
Stretch jump, stretch jump
The stretch jumps, or straight jumps, seem simple. However, they often receive deductions for technique, amplitude, and rhythm. Each straight jump should rise off the beam. If the gymnast is not even high enough to point her toes, she will receive a large height deduction (up to 0.20 each jump) as well as a foot form deduction.
Often, I will see the jumps land with the chest forward, ribs out, or hips out. All of these body posture deductions can contribute to an up to 0.20 deduction on each jump.
The two straight jumps should be connected, preparing the gymnast for more difficult dance series in the higher levels. If the connection is completely broken between the two jumps, the deduction is 0.05.
Other specific deductions for each stretch jump include up to 0.10 each if the feet do not land closed, and 0.10 each if the feet do not land at the same time.
The arabesque is expected to reach a minimum of 45° (up to 0.20) and it should be held at least one second (up to 0.10). Kids tend to rush through their counting, so you may want to have them count two Mississippis before lowering their leg!
Also, in an arabesque, the chest should remain upright. If the gymnast lowers her chest like a scale, an up to 0.20 body posture deduction can be applied.
Other common deductions include bent knees and foot form.
Straight Leg Leap (90°)
The leap in Level 3 is a straight leg leap, meaning that the gymnast will receive an up to 0.10 deduction if she bends her front leg as she takes off.
The split requirement is only 90°, because the emphasis is on height and posture during the leap. If the gymnast can also achieve a big split, that’s great, but it’s not necessary. No extra points are awarded for a split above 90°. She can, however, lose up to 0.20 for uneven split, up to 0.20 for height, and up to 0.20 for poor posture. Don’t sacrifice technique for amplitude!
Finally, a 0.05 deduction is taken if the gymnast does not pause in an arabesque when she lands. Same as before: arabesque = chest up!
The pivot turns should be performed in high releve with good body posture (are you sensing a theme here?). They should be performed using a quick, sharp rhythm (up to 0.10 each for lack of sharpness).
Next, the gymnast will perform a series of poses before performing her dismount.
Cartwheel handstand 1/4 turn dismount
Most of the deductions for the Level 3 beam dismount relate to an incomplete dismount. For instance, if the gymnast does not achieve a vertical position in her handstand, she will receive a deduction of up to 0.30. If she does not perform the 1/4 turn, it is a flat 0.20 deduction. If those errors occur, and the gymnast falls onto the wrong side of the beam, a 0.50 deduction is taken for the fall.
The hand should stay on the beam until the body passes the beam (up to 0.10). If the hands are placed simultaneously, a 0.10 deduction applies.
Also, body position deductions apply to this dismount. Most commonly, a gymnast will show an arched or piked body (up to 0.20), bent arms (up to 0.30), leg separation (up to 0.20), and poor foot form (0.05).
It’s common to see gymnasts going overtime during the Level 3 beam routine. Overtime is a 0.10 deduction. If warning is called during the routine, don’t panic! Keep doing the skills normally. If the gymnast rushes through the end of the routine, she will usually get more than 0.10 in deductions. It’s much better to take the 0.10 for overtime and still perform the skills cleanly.
The best Level 3 beam routines are performed on toe, with great posture, rhythm, and artistry. They have good form and technique during the major skills, and display excellent amplitude and posture during leaps and jumps. They also pay attention to the details, such as foot form and arm position. What are your favorite beam drills to teach the Level 3 skills?
Want to Learn More?
Here are some more articles about compulsory gymnastics you may be interested in:
General Categories for Exemplary Compulsories
The Best Gymnastics Beams for Home
The Best Gifts for Gymnasts (and Coaches!)
USA Gymnastics J.O. Compulsory Handbook, 2021-2029.