JO Level 9 Floor – Routine Construction

construction of a level 9 floor routine

UPDATE: The content of this article has been updated and republished to reflect the rules of the new JO Optional Code for 2018-2022. Updates are made to the code all the time. I do my best to keep up but please double check with this most current version of the code for the latest information.

Today we are going to explore the construction of a level 9 floor routine.  For the next several posts we will take a look at floor routine construction as a follow up to the previous floor composition post. In addition to all the basic requirements and connection bonus values that we will discuss in this article, make sure to check out the floor compositional deduction post.  At level 9 compositional deductions come into play in a bigger way.

I have to say as a parent of a level 9 gymnast I remember thinking level 8 was a whole new ball game after level 7’s relative simplicity.  But, level 9 and 10 just are on a whole different level.  The combination of very difficult skills, the bonus structure and compositional deductions just add a tremendous level of complexity and can drive the score in a plummeting spiral for what used to be in level 8 a basic error.

Level 9 floor routines can range from simple to standard to quite difficult, even those that would qualify as level 10 routines.  I personally think that this is because tumbling is one of the things that advances the fastest for many kids.  This is also the level where more diversity in skillset begins to emerge on this event.

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 as long as it is used differently.  For instance if you do a 1.5 twist step out to roundoff back handspring layout as one pass a roundoff 1.5 twist punch front both 1.5 twists will be assigned value as the connections and skills in the pass are different.

A skill repeated for the third time will not be counted.  There is an exception to this rule if for some reason the second time they did the skill it didn’t count either because it had the same connected skills or wasn’t landed.

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.

On floor, a gymnast can perform one restricted D element, which includes all D level tumbling skills.  D level dance skills are allowed and unrestricted.  All competed D skills will count only as C skills for value credit and bonus.

The fact that D skills are counted as C skills in level 9 routines causes all kinds of weird dynamics between level 9 and level 10.  For instance if you do a double back in level 10 you get a tenth bonus for the D skill but you don’t get that bonus in level 9 so there is not added benefit to doing it beyond the perception of added difficulty makes you a better gymnast.  Don’t discount this.  The highest scoring routines at westerns will have a double back or some other D element, at least that would be my bet.

Routine Special Requirement

A Level 9 floor routine that meets all the special requirements will start from a 9.7.  The other .3 must be made up in connection bonus.  There is no difficulty bonus in level 9.

  1. One tumbling pass with two saltos either directly or inderectly connected.
  2. Three different saltos within the routine
  3. A dance pass with two elements one of which is required to have a 180 degree split in either cross or side split position.
  4. The last salto performed must be at minimum B in difficulty

One tumbling pass with two saltos

Can be the same or different salto and can be directly or indirectly connected.

A salto is considered a flight element without hands touching the floor.  The exception to this rule is that aerials (side or forward) and salto elements that land with anything other than a standing position do not count as saltos.  Think of saltos as propelled flipping elements such as tucks and layouts with and without twist.

There are some common tumbling passes seen at level 9.  The 1.5 twist to punch front, either tucked, piked, or laid out, and a front salto front salto pass, such as a front layout front pike or front layout front layout, are very popular and both fulfill the two salto pass requirement.

The two saltos in this pass are not required to be directly connected so a pass such as a 1.5 twist step out to Round off full twist would also meet the requirement as would a front tuck step out to roundoff backhandspring full twist or even just a layout.

Three different Salto’s in the routine

At this level this is pretty easy to meet.

Most level 9 routines will contain some version of the two passes mentioned in the previous section plus a third pass with a single salto.  The majority of kids will do a full twist.  This is usually a placeholder for a more difficult skill they are working on and many will use this upgraded pass by the end of the season.

Some single salto passes you may see at level 9 include…

  • Full twist
  • Double back tuck
  • Double back pike
  • Double twist
  • Front layout full
  • Front layout 1.5

Dance Pass

Every routine must contain a dance pass with a minimum or two leaps, jumps or hops.  One of these must be a leap that starts on one foot and reaches 180 degrees in either split or straddle position.

Popular options for level 9 floor routine dance pass elements are switch leaps, switch ring leaps, switch side leaps, tour jet’e half, switch leap full, straddle jump, Popa (straddle jump with full turn) and many more.

Can you tell a tour jet’e half from a switch full?  I found this fun video that shows examples and sees if you can tell which is which.

The leaps and jumps contained within the dance pass do not have to be directly connected and can include steps, leaps, hops, chassés and skips as long as nothing causes the passage to pause or stop.  In fact, the goal of the pass should be to create a large dramatic movement that travels in a sweeping pattern across the floor.

I know as parents and observers we can look at several floor routines and sometimes feel like the scores make no sense.  Two clean routines can look similar and score very differently, which can be confusing.  The angle and amplitude of the leaps and jumps in a routine can often be the difference. At this level there are significant deductions for every degree less than 180 and if the jump doesn’t reach 135 it won’t receive credit and therefore can’t be used to satisfy this requirement.

Final Pass Must Contain a Salto with a minimum of B Value

This is pretty straight forward and simple for any level 9 to meet this requirement.

Common last pass Saltos include full twists and 1.5 twists, front layouts, front pikes etc.  Remember that saltos do no include aerials either front or side or saltos that land on anything but the feet.

One thing to note is that the salto must be complete in order to get credit.  This means a fall on your third pass can have much larger repercussions.

Connection Value Bonus

A level 9 floor routine begins with a start value of 9.7 if all the special requirements are fulfilled.  The final three tenths much come from connections of skills within the routine that increase the difficulty of the routine.

Only saltos, aerials and dance elements can be used for bonus.  This means that back handsprings or roundoffs into a skill does not qualify for bonus.

At level 9 if a gymnast performs the one allowed restricted D element, it will receive C value credit and is only eligible for bonus at the C level.

A gymnast can perform skills accomplishing any number of bonus points, but only a maximum of .3 in bonus will be rewarded.

Connection Value Bonus is not awarded if the skill is not completed due to a fall or the coach spotted the gymnast.

Indirect Acrobatic Connections

You don’t see too many indirect passes at level 9 that would be difficult enough to qualify for bonus. Most indirect passes that qualify for bonus include a D element, which doesn’t apply at level 9 making this connection value bonus difficult to achieve in a level 9 floor routine.

Two C skills in the same pass would qualify such as a one and a half twist step out roundoff backhandspring to double twist.  Both twisting elements are C skills but this would be a very difficult pass to see from a level 9.  That’s a big pass!

Two A or B skills indirectly connected to a C skill would get .1 bonus but that is a lot of skills for a single pass and you just don’t see much of this.

Direct Connection of two saltos and/or aerials

These are the most common connection value bonus passes you will see in level 9

A+C = .1 bonus

A one and a half twist connected to a front tuck would get this as would a front full connected to front tuck or a whip salto to one and a half would also qualify.

B+B = .1 bonus

The front layout front pike and front layout front layout are very popular passes that qualify for this bonus.

B+C = .2 bonus

A one and half twist connect to a front pike is a very popular pass in a level 9 floor routine and qualifies for a .2 bonus.  A front layout out of the one and a half would also work.

In some upgraded routines you will see a front layout or front pike connected to a front full which would also receive this bonus.

A+A+C = .1 bonus

This would look like a whip whip to one and a half or double twist or a front full front tuck front tuck.  These are not common passes in a level 9 floor routine.

C+C = .2 bonus

It would be very uncommon to see a pass of this difficulty in a level 9 floor routine.

Dance and Dance/Acro connections

These two elements must be directly connected.  You cannot take any extra steps, skips, chasse etc. or plie then straighten and plie again.  The gymnast also must be moving through one foot for the the connection.

Turns have restrictions for receiving bonus.  If the turn is first it can only be connected to another turn or a hop taking off from one foot.  A jump that takes off from two feet must land on one foot in order to then receive connection bonus for a turn out of it.

Most commonly you will see two turns connected or two leaps/jumps connected.

C+C = .1 bonus

For a level 9 floor routine a C+C connection is the only dance/acro connection that receives bonus.

You might see a switch side leap to Popa (straddle jump with full turn) or a double turn to double turn.

Connections of three or more elements

When three or more elements are connected, each connection is evaluated as an individual connection.

For example a whip salto to one and half twist to front layout would be an A+C connection for .1 and a C+B connection for .2 for a total bonus of .3

Example Routines

I have chosen four routines from Eastern and Western Championships last year.  These are all high scoring routines with a variety of tumbling and leap/jump combinations.  You can see that most of the top scoring routines at the championship level include pretty difficult stuff.

Elizabeth Mellinger – Level 9 floor routine – 9.675

This is an interesting routine full of difficult front tumbling and minimal back tumbling.  It is also almost entirely hands free.  I have seen routines like this from gymnasts recovering from elbow or wrist issues.  While they were injured they were able to work and upgrade their front tumbling significantly.  Another reason for this might be a block or vestibular issue with going backwards.  I have no idea what Elizabeth’s circumstances are so can’t speculate there, just commenting on my general observations about routines that look like this.

This routine also contains a connected hop to leap combination.

Front Full Front Pike – C+B

Connected front saltos – C+B – .2 CV Bonus

Double Turn – C
Front handspring to seated position – A
Roundoff Full – A+B
Wolf hop with full turn to switch side (connected) – C+C

Two connected dance elements – C+C – .1 CV Bonus

Front layout with 1.5 twists – D

2As + 2Bs + 3Cs + 1D

She had to add a choreography element that qualified as an A element as even though she has plenty of difficult skills as they spread out they didn’t fill up all eight skills.  I believe the front handspring to her butt would be considered a front handspring and therefore an A skill.  I thought maybe the sideways roll might be an A, but there was nothing in the code to represent that.  She also does a split leap to her knee at the end that might qualify as a split leap and therefore an A skill.

.3 Connection Value Bonus – Routine starts from a 10.0

Special Requirements are met

Front full front pike – two connected salto pass
Front full, front pike, back full – three saltos in routine
Wolf hop full to switch side leap – dance pass with two elements, one with 180 degree split
Front layout with 1.5 twist – Last salto of B or higher difficulty

Mina Popovic – Level 9 Floor Routine – 9.65

This is a common set of level 9 floor routine passes with the upgraded double back as the first pass and moving the 1.5 to punch pike to the last pass.

Roundoff backhandspring double back tuck – A+A+D
Switch leap to Tour Jete with half turn – B+C
Front handspring front layout front pike – A+B+B

Two saltos directly connected – B+B – .1 CV Bonus

Full turn with leg at horizontal – B
Roundoff backhandspring back layout with 1.5 twist to punch front pike – A+A+C+B

Two saltos directly connected – C+B – .2 CV Bonus

5As + 5Bs + 1C + 1D

.3 Connection Value Bonus – Routine starts from a 10.0

Special Requirements are met

front layout front pike- two connected salto pass
double back tuck, front layout, front pike – three saltos in routine
switch leap to tour jete half – dance pass with two elements, one with 180 degree split
1.5 twist and punch pike are both B or higher difficulty – Last salto of B or higher difficulty

Bayley Barnett – Level 9 Floor Routine – 9.625

This is an example of a pretty basic level 9 routine scoring very well.  This routine has only two passes.  Nowhere in the code does it require that a gymnast compete three passes.  All the requirements are met and the routine has enough bonus to start from a 10.0 so many gyms will opt to minimize deductions by limiting skills to just what is needed.  Bayley may have received some up to difficulty or other compositional deductions for this routine, but she leaves little to no room for execution deductions.  This is beautifully executed routine.

Roundoff back layout with 1.5 twist punch front pike – A+C+B

Two directly connected saltos – C+B – .2 CV Bonus

One and half turn – B
Switch leap to straddle jump – B+B
Front handspring front layout front pike – A+B+B

Two directly connected saltos – B+B – .1 CV Bonus

2As + 6Bs + 1C

.3 Connection Value Bonus – Routine starts from a 10.0

Special Requirements are met

1.5 punch pike – two connected salto pass
back layout with 1.5 twists, front pike, front layout – three saltos in routine
switch leap to straddle jump – dance pass with two elements, one with 180 degree split
front layout and front pike are both B difficulty – Last salto of B or higher difficulty

Eliza Millar – Level 9 Floor Routine – 9.65

Eliza also only has two passes in her level 9 floor routine.  This level 9 floor routine also includes a dance element connection and three directly connected saltos.  In the first pass the front layout to front layout counts as one connection and the middle front layout to front pike counts as a second connection.

Front layout front layout front pike – B+B+B

This has two sets of directly connected saltos, the middle front layout counts toward both connections – B+B and B+B – .1+.1=.2

Full turn with leg at horizontal – B
Straddle Jump – B
Roundoff backhandspring double back tuck – A+A+D
Switch leap to switch side leap to popa/straddle full (last two elements connected) – B+C+C

Two connected dance elements – C+C – .1

2As + 6Bs + 2Cs + 1D

Special Requirements are met

front layout front layout front pike – two connected salto pass
front layout, front pike, double back tuck – three saltos in routine
switch leap switch side to popa – dance pass with two elements, one with 180 degree split
double back tuck – Last salto of B or higher difficulty

photo credit: SupportPDX UCLA Bruins Women’s Gymnastics – 0493 via photopin (license)

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