What Are the Rules of Gymnastics?

Artistic gymnasts must participate in four or six exercises, depending on gender, each of which includes mandatory skills. There are three skill levels, and scoring is based on a formula that combines difficulty level and technical skills. Judges look for form, height, distance, landing and creativity.

Female artistic gymnastics includes four sports: the vault, the balance beam, the uneven bars and the floor exercise. Male gymnastics also includes the pommel horse, the still rings and substitutes the uneven bars for the parallel bars.

Both male and female artistic gymnastics are broken into 10 levels, which incorporate three tiers. Levels one through three are developmental levels, and they are not found in competitive scenes. Levels four through six mandate specific movements, routines and skills. The final levels, seven through 10, provide the gymnast the freedom to develop his own routine.

Scoring works on two separate axes, difficulty level and execution. Two judges confer to set the difficulty level of the routine, which starts at zero and increases in difficulty as the gymnast performs complicated maneuvers. There are six separate judges who determine the artistry and performance of the routine. This score starts at a perfect 10 and reduces for errors. Finally, all of the scores are tallied together and averaged.