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2010 Girls Gymnastics Rules Changes Focus on Current Trends and Risk Minimization

Date: 2/2/10

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 2, 2010) — New rules changes for high school girls gymnastics will reflect current trends in the sport, risk minimization and re-codification of event rules for balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee considered 94 proposed rules changes at its recent meeting in Indianapolis.  The committee recommended the adoption of 65 rules changes, which were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The committee, which meets every two years to consider changes to the rules, focused on the re-codification of the event rules. It addressed the second phase of a three-phase, long-term plan to re-codify the rules book. The re-codification included new vault values, updates in terminology and descriptions of elements, and created a rule structure that will benefit the gymnast as well as provide greater objectivity in judging. “The majority of the changes continue to reflect the ongoing process of keeping with current trends and terminology of the sport and recognizing a variety of elements to better reflect today’s high school gymnasts and their performances,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Girls Gymnastics Rules Committee. 

Changes in matting requirements were added to Rule 6-1-3.  The landing area matting on vault will be required to be 18 feet by 8 feet, in addition to meeting all other matting requirements, starting July 1, 2012. Similarly, changes were made to Rule 8-1-3 requiring that the landing area matting on balance beam will be a minimum of 12 feet by 8 feet, effective July 1, 2012. These changes were made to minimize risk of injury. The matting size will be more appropriate for the high school age gymnast and better accommodate the errors of the gymnast. “For the past two years, it has been recommended that when purchasing new mats, the width should be 8 feet,” Oakes said.

In Rule 4-1-2 (E), the word “skill” was replaced with “element” to more clearly define a movement of value (medium, superior, high superior or bonus high superior). New elements, ranging from simple to more complicated, were included in the four events to reflect current trends, promote progression-appropriate development of the gymnast and assist the gymnast to meet the eight element requirement.

The rules book will also feature new element illustrations that will replace those in Rules 6-6, 7-5, 8-5 and 9-5. “These graphics will depict more realistic figures to allow for better understanding of the elements,” Oakes said. The new illustrations are being provided through the support and cooperation of USA Gymnastics (USAG).

“The NFHS is pleased with the support from USA Gymnastics and the promotion of education-based high school girls gymnastics,” said NFHS Executive Director Robert Kanaby.

  • Following are a few of the major changes made by the committee:
  • Changed terminology from “superior judge” to “chief judge” in Rule 1 and throughout the rules.
  • Deleted chief judge deductions from Rule 2 and replaced with revised chief judge deductions to be located in Rules 6, 7, 8 and 9.
  • In Rules 7-3-6, 8-3-6 and 9-3-6, previous neutral deductions were deleted and replaced with revised deductions.
  • Revised event requirements and composition components.
  • Adjusted deductions to be event-specific and appropriate for the severity of the errors.

A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS Web site at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Athletics & Fine Arts Activities” on the home page, and select “Girls Gymnastics.”

According to the 2008-09 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, 1,495 schools offered girls gymnastics in 2008-09, and 18,842 high school girls participated nationwide.


This press release was written by Allison Brown, a fall intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department and a senior at Butler (Indiana) University.

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