Christina’s Code Corner: Floor

Friends, we have come to the final rotation of Christina’s Code Corner, floor. If you are new to the series, I commentate for North Carolina gymnastics, and I love to read the code pre-season! I am taking you event by event through the changes to the 2020 code of points (in Olympic order, of course). Check out my earlier posts on vault, bars, and beam here

This week, we are moving onto floor. Here I’ll focus on the code changes from 2019 to 2020, rather than all skill values. Floor did not have as many code changes as beam, but there are still some key changes that will be noticeable for the 2020 season. 

Skill values: Floor was the only event where there were no skill value changes. For a list of common skill values, head over to the Balance Beam Situation

Start values: As a refresher, there are baseline start values for bars, beam and floor if you meet all the composition requirements. All routines must have at least three A elements, three B elements, and two C elements (virtually all college gymnasts easily meet this requirement). 

With that in mind, the baseline start value for bars, beam and floor has been lowered from 9.500 to 9.400 this year. On top of the baseline start value, a gymnast must perform more difficult elements (D- or E-rated) and elements in combination to reach a 10.0 start. The requirements for floor did not change from 2019 to 2020, but let’s refresh: 

  1. One tumbling pass with two saltos. This connection can be met in two different ways: directly connected saltos (e.g. front layout + front full twist) or combination passes (e.g. punch front through to roundoff back handspring double back).  
  2. Three different saltos within the floor routine. Remember at 2019 nationals when Maggie Nichols showed up after doing like one floor routine all year and won the all-around? Let’s refresh our memories. (I take any excuse to watch Nichols on floor.)

Many fans were confused as to why she could start from a 10.0 without three passes. This rule is why; there is no rule about having three tumbling passes, there is only a rule stating that you have to have three saltos. She fulfilled this requirement through having a front layout stepout, a front full twist, and a double back. This rule stands this year; you can still have a two-pass routine and start from a 10.0

  1. The final pass must contain at least a C element in combination OR a D dismount. Nichols meets this requirement by having a front full (C) connected to a front layout stepout (B). 
  2. Dance pass with two different elements. One of the elements must be some type of split leap or side split (e.g. switch split leap, switch side, ring leap varieties)

Now, onto the changes for the 2020 season. 

2020 season changes

In  2020, gymnasts hypothetically have to add one tenth of bonus to their routines compared to 2019.   

However, a “get out of jail free” clause was added on floor (as was added on beam).

Change One:

Difficulty bonus: Any gymnast that has a double salto (tuck double back, double pike, double layout, and any twisting varieties of that pass) in their last pass receives a 0.100 bonus. 

My take: I’m pretty happy with this change. Ending with a double salto indicates a greater level of endurance for gymnasts compared to say a one and a half twist to front layout. So I think it is fair to give those gymnasts capable of a double salto in their final pass additional bonus. For gymnasts that already have a double salto, that means they do not have to upgrade. 

We will certainly see more gymnasts upgrading to a double salto; in the LSU Gymnastics 101 intrasquad, more of its athletes were finishing with double backs compared to the prior year. D-D Breaux mentioned that this change was due to the new code. So, the code is doing what it is supposed to do: encouraging gymnasts with the capabilities to make upgrades to their routines. 

Change Two:

Two C or higher acrobatic skills directly connected receives 0.300 in connection value. 

My take: This pass is going to be rarer to see than change one (double salto pass). This connection refers to DIRECT connections, not indirect pass connections. The skills must be performed back to back. The most common change we will see here is likely the back one and a half twist + front full twist, both C values. It is hard to imagine many other C or higher elements that would be directly connected; for example, a back two and a half twist to front full twist would also meet that requirement, but I don’t see gymnasts taking that risk when they can get the bonus from a still very difficult one and a half twist +front full twist. 

I am happy with this change; it makes sense as a C+B connection (one and a half twist to front layout, for example) receives 0.200 in bonus. Last year, C+C also received 0.200 in bonus, which was not incentivizing gymnasts to upgrade. I also love the one and a half twist + front full, so I am looking forward to seeing more of those this year.

In context: Let’s go back to Maggie Nichols’ routine last year. That routine would not start from a 10.0 in the 2020 season as-is, because she did not have a double salto as her last pass, and also did not have a C+C direct acrobatic connection. So, if she used the same routine, she would have to add an extra tenth of difficulty somewhere. In reality, we know she is capable of much more difficulty than she showed at nationals, and if she stays healthy will likely compete a three-pass routine with difficulty to spare. 

Overall Takeaways and Wishlist

I am happy with the changes that will encourage a higher level of difficulty but also are not so drastic as to make gymnasts perform skills they are not ready for. In particular, ending a college routine with a double salto is something I am excited to see more of and speaks to the increasing level of skill in college gymnastics. 

One of the things I wish were required on floor is a pirouette (turn). It is strange to me that this is a requirement on beam but not floor. Turns are an important category of dance elements, and college gymnasts should be required to have at least a full turn in their floor routine as they do beam. 

My biggest gripe about this code is more artistic routine composition. There is currently only a 0.300 deduction for artistry in the code. I am not a judge, and I do not see their score sheets, but I can only assume from score ranges that this deduction is rarely, if ever, taken. I disagree with having it be a flat deduction like stepping out of bounds. 

I would like to instead see gymnasts be REWARDED artistry points from a variety of categories: musicality, facial expression (NOT just smiling), crowd engagement, etc. I would also like to see this portion of scoring be worth more, maybe 1.000. Let’s look at Sophia Hyderally’s routine:

Look at the musicality and commitment of this performance. We have an entire 10 points to work with, and we are only using 0.300 for artistry. That is three percent of the total score. Let me repeat that. Artistry is currently worth three percent of the total 10 points a gymnast receives for a floor routine. When you see schools like Alaska or New Hampshire consistently going above and beyond, that should be rewarded beyond a ‘you did not get a deduction’.  

Well, that is all for Christina’s Code Corner. It has been so much fun to write this series and thanks to College Gym News for having me. NCAA season is just around the corner, and I hope these articles helped get you ready for another great season. As usual I will be on the mic for all of North Carolina gymnastics home meets, including the EAGL championships. 

I am also excited to announce that I will be doing a few N.C. State home gymnastics meets; stay tuned for more details. See you in 2020! 


Article by Christina Chauvenet

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