Gymnastics : Height and landing are key in the vault competition

July 18, 2008 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

In this event, the gymnast runs in a controlled 25-metre sprint toward the vault, using a springboard to boost himself into the air. Some gymnasts do a round-off (which is similar to a cartwheel) onto the springboard and a back handspring onto the vault itself. The gymnast then pushes off the vault with his hands and does several twists and flips in the air before landing on the other side.

Former CBC gymnastics analyst Carol Angela Orchard compares the vault to the long jump, in which height is key and a landing can make or break a jump. “The judges are asking, ‘How far and high did the competitor go? Did he stick the landing?’”


The frame of the vault is made of steel, and the top of the apparatus is covered in foam and leather. The springboard is made of wood with chrome silicon steel springs. The men’s vault is 1.35 metres high while the women’s vault is 1.25 metres high. All the vaults are 1.20 metres long and 95 centimetres wide.

In gymnastics, the word vault is used to refer to the event, the apparatus itself and to the skill the gymnast performs on the apparatus.


Gymnastics scoring has changed since the Athens Games. In 2005, the old scoring system was replaced by a code of points system that creates greater separation between competitors’ scores.

In the new system, one panel of judges assesses difficulty. These judges look at how high-level skills are connected in a routine, and at the various skills and elements. The starting point is zero.

A second panel of judges assesses execution. Deductions are made for shortcomings in technique, execution and composition or artistry. Deductions now range from 0.1 points to 0.8 points. The starting point is 10 points.

The final score is determined by adding the difficulty score and the execution score. A typical score under today’s rules is in the high teens. The “perfect 10” no longer exists as a final score, though it can be awarded for execution.


Entry filed under: Gymnastics. Tags: , , , , .

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