Haley was once considered one of the most talented gymnasts in the US. She made it to the World Championships, but she walked out of competition in the middle of the finals, costing the American team the gold medal.
Haley has a talk with Coach Vickerman, who convinces her to take up the sport once again—at least until she can enter an upcoming invitational competition. Vickerman convinces her that she can use the prize money from the competition to repay some property damage debts she still owes and leave gymnastics once and for all. Disliking the sport's rigid rules and intense training schedule, Haley is reluctant to come out of retirement. Her attitude toward her fellow gymnasts—as well as her past—causes conflicts. After getting the cold shoulder the first day at the gym, Haley realizes what she is up against.
Haley begins to train at VGA, but she finds that difficult tricks mean nothing without control and execution. She reluctantly asks for Burt's help and begins to show passion for gymnastics once more.
At the invitational, Haley's talent shines and her return from gymnastics retirement seems for the better. But all is not what it seems in the scoring system. She starts to remember one of the many reasons she retired: the flaws in judging. The panels do not look at the difficulty of the move nor do they look at the technique; they merely take deductions for unimportant minor errors. As Haley Graham said, "It doesn't matter how well you do. It's how well you follow their (the judges) rules."
In addition, Haley is severely stressed by her dominating mother, who has arrived to watch the meet. Her conduct at the World Championship ("Worlds") has not been forgotten by the other athletes, and they treat her with open hostility. Haley finally breaks down in the middle of her balance beam routine and, in a repeat of the World Championships, leaves the arena before completing the competition. Before she leaves, she reveals to Vickerman one of the reasons she walked out of Worlds: she discovered that her mother was having an affair with her ex-coach.
Although she did not complete the invitational, Haley continues to train and, with three of her teammates Mina (Maddy Curley) , Wei Wei (Nikki SooHoo) and Joanne (Vanessa Lengies), qualifies for the National Championships. The biased judging leaves her far back in the all-around standings, but this does not keep her out of the event finals.
In the first event final, vault, Mina executes an extremely difficult maneuver perfectly but receives a low score (9.500 out of 10). When Vickerman questions the judges, he learns that Mina was deducted on the technicality of showing a bra strap. Haley is next up, however, instead of vaulting, she shows her bra strap to the judges and forfeits her turn in disgust (otherwise known as a "scratch"). The other gymnasts follow suit, earning a string of zeroes and forcing the judges to award Mina the vault gold medal anyway.
Haley's bold action sparks a movement. The gymnasts talk amongst themselves and realize that if they could choose the winner, the judging would be fair. They convince all the others in the competition to do the same, choosing one person from each event who they deem the best to be the "winner". The winner completes her routine; the others jump on and off the apparatus and earn scores of zero.
It seems the movement will be ruined when Trisha Skillkin, a long-time judges favourite, arrives, and threatens the choice of winners by competing herself. Trisha finally comes to her senses, though, and realises that scratching is for the good of the competition to make a point.
What started out as a gymnastics competition turns into a small revolution for the rules and Haley. Her talents are recognized once more and her future seems to be set with numerous colleges offering her athletic scholarships to compete in NCAA gymnastics.