JO Level 9 Bars – Routine Construction

Level 9 bars double back dismount

Level 9 bars can be a big sticking point for many gymnasts.  The jump from a level 8 bar routine to a level 9 bar routine is profound.  This is where a gymnast that is weak on bars may get stuck and you will see many gymnasts repeating level 8, sometimes multiple times because of it.

Bars is unlike any of the other events.  All three of the other events use the same or similar movements to accomplish the same or similar skills, just on different surfaces.  Bars it totally different.  It requires a different set of strengths than the other events and you will often see this as a place of event specialization and that great bar workers may not be as strong on the other three events even at the highest level.

Think of Madison Kocian, one of the best bar workers in the world.  She lacks the power needed to compete at the level of Simone Biles or Aly Raisman on events like floor and vault, but her clean lines and amazing flexibility, control and strength make her a wonder to watch on this event.

At the JO level you will see many gymnasts who are amazing tumblers and great at beam, but a great bar worker is harder to find and many girls struggle with bars at this point and beyond.

Difficulty Requirements and Restrictions

Level 9 routines must include 3 A’s, 4 B’s, and 1 C

The same skill may only count toward these requirements two times.  A skill repeated for the third time will not be counted.

Higher level skills can replace lower level skills so if 2 C and 3 B skills are performed, one of the C skills can count as one of the required B skills.

For Bars the gymnast may also include full turn in handstand skills, which are Ds, and one restricted D skill.   Any D skills competed will be counted as C skills.  No additional credit is given for D skills versus C skills.

The most common restricted D skill you will see in level nine is a Pak Salto.  Possibly also an upgraded dismount such as a full twisting double back or double layout.

Routine Special Requirements

Level 9 bars routines that meet all the requirements start at a 9.7 start value.  You must include .3 in connection bonus to receive a 10.0 start value.  In Level 9 bar routines, it is very common for gymnasts to start from a 9.9 start value.

1. A minimum of 2 bar changes
2. One flight element of at least B value, not including the dismount
3. A second and different flight element of C or greater value OR  one element with long angle turn in handstand of at least C valuek not including a mount or dismount
4. A Salto or hecht dismount, minimum B

Min of 2 bar changes

In previous level only one bar change was required and you mostly saw this as a gymnast doing a squat/pike on and jumping to the high bar.  In level 9 the gymnast needs to do two bar changes which means that they must go up the high bar as before but also must come back down, which requires flying.

The vast majority of gymnasts will achieve this requirement with a squat/pike on jump to high bar and then either a bail, pak salto, or straddle back to move from high bar to low bar.  Here is a video of a straddle back, which isn’t used as often, especially by the top performers like the routines you will see below.

These high bar to low bar move require letting go of the high bar and flying to the low bar, which makes level 9 bars a very big jump in difficulty and fear factor from level 8 routines.

One Flight Element

This is generally accomplished by using the release move from the high bar to low bar mentioned above.

A second flight element OR a C level element with long angle turn

Level 9 is really where you start to see differentiation of skills based on the abilities, strengths and talents of the gymnast.  You will also see everything from a very simple bare basics routine to more difficult skills and connections.

A second flight skill in level nine is likely a toe shoot (also known as toe to high, Chinese sit up, hiccup and lots of other names too!) – here is a video to make it clear


Most gymnasts will include a long angle turning skill in their routine because at some point you have to change directions.  These skills include pirouettes and blind changes done at the end of another skill, either a cast handstand, giant or at the end of a circling skill (clear hip, stalder, toe on).  The turn must be completed in handstand and a minimum of a half turn is required to meet the special requirement, but you may even see a full turn in the most advanced of routines.

Salto or hecht dismount

In level 9 the bar dismount must be a minimum of a B level skill.  The most common dismounts you will see in Level 9 are the double back tuck and toe hecht front tuck, which the vast majority of gymnasts competing the double back.  Here is a video of the toe hecht dismount as it won’t be seen in the examples below.

Additional Notes

One thing that many people don’t know is that at level 9 and higher a close bar circling element is not required as it is in level 7 and 8.  These are the clear hip, stalder and toe on skills.

Connection Value Bonus

As mentioned previously Level 9 bar routines begin at a 9.7 start value.  In order to achieve a full 10.0 start value the routine must contain .3 in connection bonus.  This is accomplished by connecting two skills of a certain type and difficulty together.  The harder the connection the higher the bonus.

For Level 9 Bars, only C skills or higher will count toward connection bonus and all D skills are counted as C skills so unlike level 10 there is no bonus for doing these harder skills.

Two C skills which both have either turn or flight receives .2 in bonus

Ex.  Giant blind change to overshoot or pak salto

Giant full pirouette to double back dismount

Two C Skills of which only one contains turn or flight receives .1 in bonus

Ex.  Toe on toe off to toe shoot to high bar

clear hip to double back dismount

Two C skills which neither have turn or flight and are different skills will receive .1 bonus

Two of the following skills connected – Clear hip, Stalder or toe on toe off  – All must be to handstand and the gymnast must do two different skills.


Example Routines

Lets take a look at a couple Level 9 bars routines to see how this all breaks down.  I have chosen several of the top routines from both Western and Eastern Nationals in 2016 as examples.

Levi Jung-Ruivivar – 2016 Western Nationals Level 9 Bars Champion – 9.675 – Jr 1

Levi starts on the outside of the high bar facing in.  You will see any number of starting locations in Level 9 and 10 bar routines based on the order of skills and connections in their routines.

Levi also competed Hopes this season.  Her hopes routine was identical except she adds a toe shoot to high bar in place of the toe circle jump to high bar.  How this routine is composed is undoubtedly done so to meet the Hopes requirements.

Kip Cast Handstand – A + B

Pak Salto – D

Kip Cast Handstand half Pirouette – A + C

Stalder to Handstand – C

Toe On Toe Off – C

hand stand pirouette to stalder – C+C one with turn – .1 CV Bonus
Stalder to toe on toe off – C+C no turn/flight different elements – .1 CV Bonus

Toe circle jump to high bar – A

Kip Cast Handstand – A + B

Giant Blind half – C

front giant half pirouette – C

giant blind half to front giant half pirouette – C+C both with turn – .2 CV bonus

giant giant double back dismount – B+ B + C

3As + 4Bs +5Cs + 1D – This obviously meets the basic skill difficulty requirements.

.4 in connection bonus – this routine starts from a 10.0 – In level 9 no routine, regardless of difficulty starts from higher than a 10.0

Special Requirements are met
– sole circle jump to high bar and pak salto fill two bar changes
– Pak Salto for flight requirement
– Any of the piouette or blind elements for second flight or turn
– Double back for Salto/Hecht dismount B or higher


Lindsey Hunter – 2016 Western Nationals – 2nd Place Level 9 Bars – 9.65 – Sr 1

Kip pike on to High Bar – A+A

Kip Cast Handstand – A+B

Giant Blind half – C

Bail – HS to HS – D

C+C – both with turn or flight –  .2 Bonus 

Kip pike on to High Bar – A+A

Kip Cast Handstand – A+B

Clear Hip to Handstand – C

Double Back Dismount – C

C+C 1 with flight – .1 Bonus

Start Value 10.0 – 9.7 + .3 Bonus

4As + 2Bs + 3Cs + 1D – Good

Special Requirements are met
– sole circle to high bar and Bail/Overshoot fill two bar changes
– Bail/Overshoot for flight requirement
– Giant Blind Half for second flight/turn element
– Double back for Salto/Hecht dismount B or higher

Note: Bails, also called overshoots or shootovers, can be B,C or D skills
– B Value for less than handstand to less than handstand
– C Value for starting from handstand and landing in less than handstand
– D Value for starting and ending in Handstand


Grace Woolfolk – 2016 Eastern Nationals – 1st Place Level 9 Bars – 9.625 – Sr. 4

Kip Pike on to High Bar – A+A

Kip Cast Handstand – A+B

Clear Hip Handstand – C

Giant Blind Half – C

C+C one with Turn – .1 Bonus

Bail/Overshoot HS to HS – D

C+C Both with Turn/Flight – .2 Bonus

Kip Pike on to High Bar – A+A

Kip Cast Handstand – A+B

Giant Giant Double Back dismount – B+B+C

10.0 Start Value – 9.7 + .3 Bonus

4As + 4Bs + 3Cs + 1D – Good

Special Requirements are met
– sole circle to high bar and Bail/Overshoot fill two bar changes
– Bail/Overshoot for flight requirement
– Giant Blind Half for second flight/turn element
– Double back for Salto/Hecht dismount B or higher

Note:  When three C or harder skills are performed in a row The first and second can be counted as connection and then the second and third can be counted as another connection.  This could theoretically go beyond three but at this level you will likely not see that.





photo credit: TWU Gymnastics [Bars] Bethany Larimer via photopin (license)

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