What’s New in 2019-2020

The optional season is officially in full swing, so I thought this would be a good time to review some of the changes and updates for this season. There are several changes to the Level 6/7 vault deductions, along with  updates in several other areas.


Video review is now allowed for spotting deductions and out of bounds deductions, at State Meet and above only.

Warm-up time is now 1 1/2 minutes for ALL events at Level 6 and 7.

Clarification: Bar settings are not included in the warm-up time at any level (1-10), but if a group of gymnasts chooses to block time, any changes to bar settings within the block would be part of the warm-up time. Beam warm-up time may be blocked, but it is not required to be blocked.

Attire Clarifications: Backless leotards are no longer permitted effective August 1, 2020. Clear bra is acceptable. Ankle-length tights worn under the leotard are acceptable attire, as long as they match the leotard or are skin tone.

It is recommended, at State Meet and above, that VOID vaults be scored unofficially, in the event of an video review.

Level 9 and above judges should be used to judge the Xcel Diamond division.

New element submitted at J.O. Nationals:

Piked Tsukahara with 1/1 turn (Staruk) – 9.90 SV

Here’s a video of this cool new vault!


The Handspring-front salto vault will be removed from the Xcel Diamond vault chart.

New deduction for Xcel Gold, Platinum, and Diamond: Up to 0.50 for Angle of Repulsion not by vertical.

Athletic tape or Velcro strips may be placed on the runway as long as they are removed by the end of the rotation. NO chalk is allowed on the vault runway.

Update to Level 3 vault apparatus specs: “Level 3 apparatus:  Mat stack – minimum of 81 cm (32 inches) in height (+ 2.5 cm or 1 inch). Any combination of competition landing mats, skill cushions OR port-a-pit may be used; however, the top layer of matting MUST be a minimum of a 10 cm (4-inch) skill cushion or the port-a-pit), plus two additional 20 cm (8″) skill cushions to allow for 102 cm (40″) and 123 cm (48″) heights (+ 2.5 cm or 1 inch).  An inflatable mat may also be used in the configuration of matting; however, the uppermost landing surface must be a minimum of a 10 cm (4-inch) skill cushion.”

Update to apparatus specs for all levels:

“Levels 4-5:  All age divisions may use the vault table at any manufacturer setting.

Levels 6-7: All age divisions may use the vault table at any manufacturer setting, with a maximum 135 cm (+ 1 cm).

Levels 8-10:  All age divisions may use the vault table with a minimum setting of 115 cm (+ 1 cm) and a maximum of 135 cm (+ 1 cm).”

NEW DEDUCTIONS for Level 6/7 Vault:

  • Failure to pass through vertical – Up to 0.30.
  • Failure to create rotation – Up to 0.30
  • Failure to land on top of the mat stack – 1.00
  • Insufficient distance (length) – Up to 0.20 (decreased from previous deduction on up to 0.30)
  • REMOVE the deduction for angle of arrival.

Check out the USA Gymnastics website for the latest Level 6/7 practice judging videos Also, there are some great educational resources for this vault, including this presentation by Tom Koll, from June 2020:

6 7 Vault Landings & Distance 6 20 2020 – YouTube


New deduction for Xcel Bronze Cast off to stand dismount: Flat 0.30 for lack of release of bar prior to landing.

Xcel Platinum gymnasts are allowed to perform a Pike sole circle to handstand or a Stalder backward to handstand, both without turns, to receive B credit and SR credit.

The “pillow pit” is allowed to be placed under the bars during release moves at all meets. It is required to be provided at State Meets and above.

Change in deduction: More than one consecutive extra swing/cast: Flat 0.50.

Update to compositional deductions for Level 9/10:

“Choice of Elements (applicable to LEVEL 9 / 10 only) Failure to perform Two (2) Elements (minimum of “B”) that fulfill Two (2) out of the Three (3) of the following Requirements (excluding dismounts):

1. One (1) Forward Element (Circle or Release)

2. One (1) Element from Groups 3 / 6 / 7

3. One (1) “C” Element with a minimum of 180° LA Turn, with or without flight.”

Level 9/10 gymnasts no longer have a pirouetting element in their Choice compositional category.


Discussion regarding specific Xcel Beam skills:

  • Front walkover to bridge to back lying position is a variation of the front walkover to bridge.
  • There are no angle requirements for the lever to touch in Xcel Bronze. Body shape deductions can be applied. The back foot does not need to return to the beam to receive VP credit.

The rest of the updates are in regards to the JO Program:

The 2 1/2 twist dismount has been upgraded from a “D” to an “E”.

Any 3-element flight series will now earn an additional 0.10 CV as long as at has a minimum of 1 “C salto/aerial, or 1 “D/E” flight element with or without hand support.

Fall time has been increased to 45 seconds for ALL levels. (So a Level 2 might be OFF the beam longer than they are ON the beam!)

It was clarified that the following skills are NOT considered acro elements:

  •  #5.104 Free lying with large leg amplitude
  • #5.105 Planche
  • #5.204 Clear pike or straddle support

Compositional deductions for Level 8 Acro Level were updated as follows: Up to 0.15 deduction for the following:

  • Acro series with 1 “B” flight AND 1 additional “A” acro
  • Acro series with 2 “B” flights ONLY

New clarification on deductions regarding Lack of Tempo:

  • 0.05-0.10 Body continues moving in line with the beam but arms swing between elements OR Legs slightly extend but do not completely straighten, and slightly bend again to initiate take-off
  • 0.15-0.20 Torso/trunk deviation in line with the beam with or without arm swing between elements

Clarifications regarding series: All series are considered broken when:

  • Loss of balance (No longer requires a stop between elements)
  • Any deviation of body movement which is NOT in line with the beam

Essentially, if a gymnast wobbles and her balance error does not go in line with the beam, the series is broken.


Floor music must be downloaded onto a mobile device, without utilizing Wi-fi to access it.

For Xcel Bronze and Silver, the gymnast is allowed to place the hands on the floor prior to a backward roll.

The ring jump 1/1 is now a “D”. Stag-ring jump 1/1 is still a “C”.

Dance Level Composition was updated as follows for NO DEDUCTION:

  • Level 9: Minimum of 2 C’s
  • Level 10: Minimum of 3 C’s or 2 D/E’s

Acro Level Composition was updated for Level 8 as follows:

  • 0.05 3-Pass Routine: B, B, A+A Indirect
  • 0.05 2-Pass Routine: Each pass w/2 saltos (min. one B per pass), one a Direct & one an Indirect connection
  • 0.10 2-Pass Routine: 2 indirectly connected saltos (1 a B) in both passes OR B+B Indirect, A+A Direct

You can find the full rules update documents on the USA Gymnastics site.

It’s great to have a few extra tools for separation using the new(ish) Up to the Level composition deductions. I’m personally thrilled not to have to look for the angle of arrival during Level 6/7 vault, and I love the new deduction for lack of rotation. Because really, that’s what this vault was designed to promote! Are there any other rule changes or clarifications that you would like to see?