Guides and Tutorials

Judging a Rhythmic Gymnastics Exercise

Judging Rhythmic Gymnastics (RG) is complicated. For a spectator it might seem like a mission impossible to understand why the scores are what they are and how is it even possible to objectively measure the result.

In this post you will find answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the composition of a jury at RG competitions

  2. What are the roles of the different types of judges and

  3. How does the final score come together

Composition of the Jury

Each Jury consists of 2 panels – the D (Difficulty) panel and E (Execution) panel.

Judges within those panels also have different roles.

The D-panel consists of 4 judges divided into 2 subgroups:

  • The first D subgroup – 2 judges (D1 and D2)

  • The second D subgroup – 2 judges (D3 and D4)

The E-panel consists of 6 judges divided into 2 subgroups:

  • The first E subgroup – 2 judges (E1 and E2)

  • The second E subgroup – 4 judges (E3, E4, E5 and E6)

This composition of 10 judges is mandatory at FIG competitions, World Championships and Olympic Games. It is possible to combine some roles and manage with a smaller number of judges at other competitions.

Do not be alarmed if the judges’ table at your local event is not quite as long. They will get the job done.

Roles of the different judges

Judges D1 and D2 evaluate the number and technical value of Body Difficulties (BD) and Dance Steps (S).

BDs are also referred to as “elements”. These are rotations, balances and leaps.

In case of group exercises this subgroup is also responsible for evaluating Exchanges (ED).

Exchanges are the risky parts of group exercises where all the apparatus are thrown simultaneously and not caught by the same gymnasts that threw them.

The D1 judge is also the Coordinator Judge. It is his or her job to apply the penalties. A separate post on those is coming soon.

Judges D3 and D4 evaluate the number and technical value of Dynamic elements with Rotation (R) also known as “risks” and the number and technical value of the Apparatus Difficulty (AD) also known as “mastery”.

If a gymnast throws a club high up in the air and does a full turn plus a cartwheel before catching it then she has just performed a “risk” element.

“Masteries” are all the cool tricks that gymnasts do using their hands, feet, heads, backs etc. to handle the ball or other type of apparatus.

In case of group exercises this subgroup is recording the number and technical value of “risks” and Collaborations (C).

Collaborations are the parts of a group routine where the apparatus quickly changes hands and it is sometimes impossible to keep up with what is going on. Using another gymnast for bouncing the hoop off to another direction is also a good example of a C element.

Judges E1 and E2 evaluate artistic faults.

Examples of artistic faults: movements not expressing the character of the music, falling behind the tempo of the music, lack of variety in movements etc.

Judges E3, E4, E5 and E6 evaluate technical faults.

Examples of technical faults: body position not correct, jumps not high enough, loss of balance, loss of apparatus etc.

Time judge is responsible for controlling the duration of the exercise, record all violations and pass any deductions on to the Coordinator Judge.

Line judges sit at two opposite corners of the competition area. They record all crossings of the boundaries of the floor area and pass deductions on to the Coordinator Judge.

How does the total score come together

D1 and D2 judges work independently during the exercise, then briefly compare notes and agree upon one common score that is entered into the computer. This makes up the first part of the D score.

D3 and D4 judges do the same.

The final D-score will be the sum of the two partial D-scores.

Judges E1 and E2 first work independently and then jointly to provide one single common score for the Artistic penalties.

Judges E3, E4, E5 and E6 determine the total deductions for Technical faults independently and without consulting the other judges. The final deduction will be the average of the 2 middle scores.

The E-score deductions will be the sum of the two partial E-score deductions.

The D-panel begins from 0 and keeps adding points when elements are being performed to a required standard. As of 2018 the sky is the limit but the D-scores seldom go as high as 10 or above.

The E panel works in the opposite direction. There combined E score is subtracted from 10.00 points and the result added to the final D-score.


D1, D2 = 4.0 (agreed)

D3, D4 = 3.7 (agreed)

E1, E2 = 1.5 (agreed)

E3 = 1.0 (independent)

E4 = 0.9 (independent)

E5 = 1.1 (independent)

E6 = 0.8 (independent)

E3 to E6 = (1.0 + 0.9)/2 = 0.95 (average of 2 middle scores)

Total D = 4.0 + 3.7 = 7.7

Total E = 10 – 1.5 – 0.95 = 7.55

Total score before deductions = 7.7 + 7.55 = 15.25

Deductions for overstepping the boundaries of the floor area = 0.6

FINAL SCORE = 15.25 – 0.6 = 14.65

It can be difficult, especially in the beginning, to tell a risk from a mastery or an exchange from a collaboration. And it is totally ok to not bother with such details and just enjoy the beauty of the sport.

However, as a parent I find that my understanding of my daughters’ performances has deepened our connection as far as competing goes. They actually enjoy being able to use me as a (reasonably knowledgeable but still suitably biased) sounding board to get their frustrations out. And I am grateful for those moments.