For many years now the presence of three tumbling passes in floor routines was the norm for college gymnastics, particularly for those who were considered to be the nation’s elite tumblers.
But now, thanks to some rule changes, more and more gymnasts are getting all the tumbling tenths they need in two passes, meaning there could come a day when three passes are the exception, not the norm.
The rule changes on floor have dropped the start value from 9.5 to 9.4. But now gymnasts have more options to gain more tenths to get the maximum 10.0 mark most elite teams use.
For one, if a gymnast’s last pass has an “E” acro skill or a double flipping salto, the gymnast can earn .3 for the difficulty. Additionally, the rules have changed that give gymnasts a bonus for connecting difficult skills. In the past, a “C” rated skill would earn just .2 bonus when connected to another “C”, or higher rated skill now it earns .3 bonus.
Utah senior Kim Tessen’s floor exercise is a good example of this tweak as she throws a double back one-and-a-half that connects to a front full on her second and final pass. Both of those skills are considered “C” skills so she gets .3 bonus instead of just .2 in the past.
The advantage to having two passes instead of three means a gymnast doesn’t have to have as much endurance and it can help a gymnast who has injuries because it is less pounding on the body.
Tessen tore her Achilles’ tendon as a freshman and is mindful of the stress high reps can put on her physique.
“Since I’m a little older it is a lot easier for me,” she said. “It’s a nice precaution because for my body I am not pushing to have the big passes.”
Utah coach Tom Farden is in favor of the trend, particularly for gymnasts with a history of injuries. Freshman Jill Hoffman, who is coming back from injury, also uses two passes.
“We would be foolish not to take advantage of it,” he said. “You want the highest amount of scoring potential with the least amount of pounding.”
So far the change has worked well for Tessen, who has scored 9.9 or higher in three meets this year.
“You still need enough difficulty to get the bonuses,” she said. “There is more time for dancing and leap combinations so it’s a different type of hard.”
Freshman Maile O’Keefe used two passes earlier in the year while recovering from a foot injury but now has a routine with three passes.
“It comes down to what you want to portray with your routine, make it more artistic or power,” she said. “It can be a different type of hard, too, because sometimes I think having two separate leap passes is much harder.”
There used to be a stigma that only less talented or gymnasts constrained by injuries performed two passes, but that is all going by the wayside with the new rules.
“As long as you have the difficulty, that is all that matters,” Tessen said.