This post has been updated to reflect the 2022-2026 DP Code of Points.
The Level 6 bar routines can seem simple, and that’s the idea. But it’s not always so simple to make them look good. These routines combine basic skills such as casting and circling, and the gymnast must keep a tight body shape to perform them correctly. What exactly is she required to do, though? Let’s dive in.
Philosophy Behind Level 6
The idea behind Level 6 and 7 gymnastics is to ease gymnasts into the optional levels, without the need to perform difficulty beyond the level’s requirements. For this reason, there are no composition deductions in these two levels. Composition deductions are deductions taken at the end of the routine, based on the construction of the routine. They can include deductions for lack of difficulty, too many common transitions, or failure to include certain skills in the routine.
In Level 6 and 7, these deductions are NOT applied. The goal is to create routines that meet the requirements and can be performed as cleanly as possible. Often, the highest scoring routines are those that include the bare minimum number of skills, performed very well. There are general deductions that are taken at the end of the routine, such as rhythm and dynamics, and these deductions are still applied. But there’s no need to worry about exceeding the difficulty requirements. Just do what you can do well, and be done!
Value Parts for a Level 6 Bar Routine
Level 6 gymnasts need 5 A skills and 1 B skill on each event (bars, beam, and floor). All skills in gymnastics are evaluated based on their difficulty level, and they are given a value from A through E. A skills are the easiest, while B skills are a bit more difficult. The gymnast is allowed to choose the skills that she can perform the best in each of these difficulty categories. Each A skill is worth 0.10, and each B skill is worth 0.30. Deductions are taken off the Start Value if a skill is missing.
Examples of B skills on bars include:
- Clear hip circle
- Toe circle to clear support
- Stalder to clear support
- Cast handstand
- Flyaway ½ or 1/1
It’s important to note that casts below handstand have no value. If you’re counting on a cast handstand for a Value Part, and the cast falls short, you’ll be missing a skill.
There are just a handful of allowable “C” skills in Level 6, and they receive “B” credit:
- Clear hip circle to handstand
- Stalder to handstand
- Toe circle to handstand
The gymnast may perform a maximum of one allowable “C” skill in her routine. Any additional C’s, or unallowable elements, will result in a 0.50 deduction from the Start Value.
Gymnasts are not allowed to perform release skills from LB-HB or HB-LB in the routine, regardless of the value of the skill. (And there is really no reason to include one, anyway!)
Special Requirements for a Level 6 Bar Routine
There are four Special Requirements for a Level 6 bar routine. Each Special Requirement is worth 0.50 off the Start Value.
The Special Requirements are as follows:
- Cast above horizontal
- One bar change
- 360° clear circling skill from group 3, 6, or 7
- “A” salto dismount
Here is more detail on each of these Special Requirements.
If you read the Code of Points, the Level 6 casting requirement is confusing to interpret. It reads, “One cast a minimum of 45° above horizontal (SR awarded when angle is above horizontal”, and it is followed by an angle chart showing the 45° angle, and stating that no Value Part is given below 20° from handstand. Clear as mud, right?
What you really need to know is this: you’ll get Special Requirement credit if the cast is above horizontal. Amplitude deductions apply for any cast below 45° from vertical. The cast can fulfill the Special Requirement even if it does not receive Value Part credit.
See the graphic below for the casting deductions at Level 6.
How do judges determine the angle of the cast?
There are two main concepts to know when determining cast angles.
First, the angle is measured from the shoulders to the lowest body part. This means that if the gymnast is arched, the angle is measured from her shoulders to her belly. If she is piked, it’s the angle from her shoulders to her feet. If she has a straight body, the measurement goes straight down the length of her body. It’s important to critically evaluate the gymnast’s body shape when determining the angle of her cast.
Second, a straddle cast is considered complete when the feet join together. In a straddle cast, it’s common to see the hips rise to meet the requirement, but then lower again by the time the feet close. In this case, the gymnast would not get credit for the higher cast she appeared to have achieved, because the cast was incomplete until her feet came together.
Even if the gymnast meets her Special Requirement of a cast above horizontal, she still may receive amplitude deductions on the cast. If the cast is below 45°, an up to 0.30 deduction can be applied.
For more information about angles on bars, see What’s Your Bar Angle?
One bar change
The gymnast must change bars at least once during her routine. Most Level 6 gymnasts begin their routine on the low bar, and end on the high bar. This is the easiest, and most deduction-free, way to get your bar change. To fulfill the bar change requirement, the gymnast must perform Value Parts on each bar.
If the gymnast falls off of the low bar, and climbs up on the low bar to jump to the high bar, this will also fulfill the requirement, as long as she performs a Value Part on the high bar. It even counts if she falls off the low bar and jumps back up to the high bar. She just needs perform a skill on each bar once during the routine.
360° circling skill from Group 3/6/7
The gymnast must perform a clear 360° circling skill from one of the following Groups: 3, 6, or 7. If you’re not familiar with these groups, they are the clear hip, stalder, and toe circle/sole circle groups.
There is NO amplitude requirement to receive credit for the circling skill, but the skill must finish with the hips/feet clear of the bar. Make sure it’s obvious that the hips aren’t touching the bar. Even if the gymnast doesn’t put support on her hips, if the judge sees the hips touching the bar at the end of the circle, it will get lower Value Part credit (A instead of B) and no Special Requirement credit.
If the gymnast attempts to perform a circle to handstand, and falls back over, she will get credit for the circle if she reaches within 20° of handstand. If she opens earlier than that, she’ll want to repeat the skill in order to get Value Part and Special Requirement credit.
Here you can see the angle charts for circling skills. These charts determine the amplitude deductions that apply to each circling skill. Remember that execution deductions such as bent arms, bent legs, arched or piked body position, and leg separations are taken in addition to amplitude deductions.
“A” salto dismount
The gymnast can perform any “A” or “B” salto dismount to get credit for this Special Requirement. The salto can be backward or forward, with or without a twist. Common salto dismounts are tuck and layout flyaways.
As long as the gymnast lands on her feet first, she will receive credit for her dismount. If she does not land feet first, she will not get Special Requirement credit. Depending on how much of the dismount she completes, she may also receive a 0.30 deduction off the Start Value for no dismount.
Common Deductions for a Level 6 Bar Routine
In Level 6, the emphasis is on performing basic skills with excellent technique, to prepare for the higher levels. The routines that meet the requirements, with the cleanest execution, are the ones that will finish on top. In addition, these gymnasts will be the best prepared to move into Level 7 and beyond. What do I mean by “clean execution”? A gymnast with clean execution has minimal form deductions.
Here are some of the most common deductions that can occur during a Level 6 bar routine. Judges apply these deductions each time they occur.
Common deductions include:
- Foot form – 0.05
- Poor rhythm – up to 0.10
- Brush/touch of apparatus or mat with feet – up to 0.10
- Poor body position – up to 0.20
- Leg separation – up to 0.20
- Bent arms – up to 0.30
- Bent knees – up to 0.30
- Extra swing – 0.30
- Hit on mat with feet – 0.30
- Fall – 0.50
The best Level 6 bar routines are short, sweet, and well executed. The top Level 6 gymnasts will have strong casting and circling skills. They do not need to hit handstands, but they do need to achieve 45° above horizontal for no deductions on these skills. These gymnasts will show good body shaping throughout the routine. Great Level 6 bar routines look like they are floating, and they are really fun to watch!
Tips and Resources for Level 6/7 Vault
Level 6 Beam Routine Recommendations
Level 6 Floor Routine Requirements
Guide to Choosing Gymnastics Grips
The Ideal Composition for a Level 8 Bar Routine
The Ideal Composition for a Level 9 Bar Routine
The Ideal Composition for a Level 10 Bar Routine
USA Gymnastics J.O. Code of Points, 2018-2022