The Code Of Points is the definitive rule book for gymnastics. It is the preverbial gymnastics bible as it contains everything needed to assist a gymnast with creating a routine, and equally, everything for a judge to deconstruct it. The Code Of Points is also under constant scrutiny and revisions occur frequently by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
The Code, as it is more commonly known in gymnastics circles, consists of a collection of every skill that is allowable in gymnastics and assigns a value and difficulty level to it. The Code also outlines how routines will be judged and provides a template for construction of these routines. It then gives explicit rules as to how mistakes and errors will affect the overall value of the routine.
Traditionally the code was reviewed every Olympic year and appropriate changes were made to it to reflect the direction in which the FIG wanted gymnastics to head for the next Olympic cycle. Old skills were downgraded in value and new skills were added. As gymnastics development has accelerated in recent years the code has broken with this tradition and has seen smaller revisions occur in a more regular basis. The code has also seen in recent years one of the largest revisions following controversy over problems with the scoring system. This change saw the departure from the well known 10.00 maximum score to a (theoretically) limitless score.
The current code has been in effect since 2006 and has seen a dramatic change in routine and scoring structure. Differing from the previous tradition of routines being judged out of 10.00 an open format was introduced and sees the separation of difficulty score i.e. the skills and the execution score i.e. the mistakes. The Difficulty or D score is calculated by adding up the assigned values of the 10 most difficult skills in the routine. The Execution or E Score deducts points from a total of 10.00 for any mistakes or errors when performing the routine. These two scores are then added together to achieve the final score. A typical top class routine will usually score in excess of 15.5 while the average gymnast will achieve somewhere anywhere up to a mid 14.
Some countries make their own changes and enforce differing rules within their local competition for various reasons. A good example of this is that the American NCAA Code differs slightly to allow safer routines and greater participation. Juniors also adhere to differing guidelines however any FIG sanctioned competition which encompasses all major international events follows the Code strictly.
The Code will also see some changes after the 2012 London Olympics as there has been concerns over the dangers of the open Code and the safety of the athletes. It will continue to evolve and will most likely remain the number one resource for gymnasts and coaches everywhere.
The FIG keeps an up to date version on its website for reference.