Boys Level 4 Vault Analysis?

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I've received some really good feedback from some of you on other videos I've posted, so I thought I'd push my luck and try again.

The level 4 vault is seemingly the most simple event of them all, but apparently there's more to it than meets the eye.

If anybody feels they are familiar enough with this event to offer a critique of this vault from our meet yesterday, or even dare to estimate a score, I would sincerely appreciate it. I find it more valuable if I don't explain why I'm asking until at least a few of you have taken a look at it. Don't want to lead the witnesses or anything like that. ;)

I hope I'm not being a pest by always asking about my boy's routines, but he truly wants to improve, and we're not sure he's getting all the input he needs to help that happen. I'm hoping this forum is the right place to turn to.

Thanks in advance.

- Harv
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Hah, I know where you were yesterday! :D Unfortunately, I can't access those scores yet though I'll get them tomorrow. Oh, wait...I thought you had been at a different gym and know I recognize his coach he is always with. I did not recognize the coach he was with on PB the other day.

He is using a straight arm circle instead of a bent arm. I'm not really sure if they will deduct for that, though. His body isn't as tight at it should be as he arches off the board and in the air ( which is caused somewhat by the straight arm circle ). He gets more air and distance than our 10yo who won L4 vault but that's probably because he is taller and weighs more.

I have seen footage from our last two meets but I only have seen the scores for the first one and if I had been there I could better guess with the new vaulting scoring system. It's much easier to judge the other events and mock score the boys in the gym but I need to get myself out to a meet to have a better idea of how the scoring is being done and what the other teams are doing in regards to routines.

I could guess poorly and will state that I'm not confident in my guess but I'll bite and say 14.3 to 14.6 or so. I just dunno and don't want to guess. A lot of vault scores really seem to vary IMO.

Actually, Harv, I'm enjoying your posts also because they are related to boy's JO. Last season I was talking to a parent that frequently posted up videos of his boy in Florida and that was really fun to comment to ( a fellow CrossFitter ).


Sep 21, 2008
Im not entirely familliar with the rules for vault at this level, but Ill make some assumptions and then share what I see...

I am assuming, based on level, this is a 10.0 vault. If it isnt, it will at least give a starting point for reference.

I am also assuming that distance is good as long as controlled, a landing should be upright and controlled, and the body position in the air needs to be straight and tight, probably mid-way between pencil striaght and a tight arch.

Based on that, the approach to the board was good, but it looked like he was leaning towards the camera a bit when he hit the board (i.e., his shoulder was down a smidge), because of that, he was off position and hand to fling his chest to keep his position, forcing a really big arch isntead of a tight body position that is desired. It's why he went so long, instead of in a more upward, eliptical fashion. His knees were a little bent, which means they did not get a full repulsion off the board.

His landing was a little heavy, and his chest was low... if I had to go off the judging I am familliar with with similar starting difficulty, I would put it somewhere in the 9.4-.6 range. .2 for the knees, .1-.2 for the flight angle, and .1 for the landing.

However.. I could be TOTALLY off here.. but that's what I saw.

Sounds a little silly.. but his feet were a little "loose" too... but.. that's just nit-picking...

I dunno.. how did he score?


Well-Known Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Relative
Jul 5, 2007
I see a deceleration in the run...if they judge L4 boys vault like girls, this is judged too. I don't know what the boys text says for appropriate board work, but given the simplicity of the vault I would assume they have it somewhat weight toward board contact. Probably looking for underarm circle and arms around horizontal on contact, with a upward "lift" into the flight phase. In this particular video, his arms mostly just come upwards and hit vertical a little too early. Good height and distance but I don't know which one is more stressed. I would guess a little of each. Some arch. Chest down on the girls system this tends to be a pretty significant deduction at all levels (though not a potential problem with our L4 vault).


Active Member
Former Gymnast
Proud Parent
May 11, 2007
Pacific NW
The run is judged for Level 4 boys.

I'm not a judge or coach, but I'll take a stab at it.

Start value 15.0

lack of acceleration in run -.3
arch in air -.1
legs lose -.1
feet in air -.1
low chest in landing -.1
stick bonus +.1

14.4, but I could be totally off.


Wow! Great responses! I'm really starting to like it here. :)

I actually had 2 reasons for asking for your evaluations. The lesser reason was the score he received: 14.1. (You people were pretty close.) His vault has looked very consistent in his other 3 meets this (his first) year, receiving 15.3, 15.5, and 14.9 (didn't stick that last one), so the 14.1 this time, for what seemed to be as good as any he's done, was a bit of a surprise. Having studied up on it a bit myself now, I think the first 3 scores were perhaps unreasonably lenient. To be fair, this last judge was very consistent -- nobody got into the 15's, and my boy's 14.1 took 2nd place.

My primary reason for asking for input stems from the fact that I am now the proud owner of the "2009-2012 USA Gymnastics Men's Age Group Competition Program Manual", videos and all. I've been frustrated by my lack of knowledge on this stuff, and I'm trying to correct that.

If you are easily bored, you may want to stop here, 'cuz I'm about to go into more detail than the casual reader may want to see. :p

From here on, anything highlighted in red is a direct quote from the above-mentioned manual. I get the feeling that there is more to be learned from the actual FIG rules, and I'm not sure how they relate to this manual, so hopefully you coaches can help fill in the blanks.

Base Score - 15.0
Performance Bonus - 0.5
Stick Bonus - 0.2
Maximum Score - 15.7

The run, as pointed out by ZJsMom and gymdog, is indeed scored and is, in fact, an important part of the L4 routine:

Run must show increase in velocity to sprinting speed and maintenance of velocity or positive acceleration to and through the hurdle.

Like gymdog and ZJsMom, I noted a slight deceleration on his last couple of steps before the hurdle. I can see where the judge could levy as much as .3 deduction.

Distinct lift of the front leg in the stride.

Okay, neither my boy nor I realized that was an issue, but although spelled out in the "Performance Criteria", it is not mentioned under "Run Deductions". :confused:

Fixed elbow, bent arm swing with clear elbow movement forward and backward.

We didn't know about that one, either. His elbow was not fixed, however, so maybe another .3 deduction?

Feet must be in front of hips on contact with springboard.

He nailed that one. :cool:

Under arm swing must be shown. Arm swing must begin from below the shoulders and lift distinctly through the hurdle.

I'm not at all clear about this under arm thing (I thought that's where deodorant goes :D) . Can anyone offer some details on this part? BlairBob? Under "Hurdle Deductions", it lists:

Little or no under arm swing (arm circle or under-arm swing allowed).

Now for the hurdle:

Straight body throughout.

From what point to what point, exactly? He does kinda fold up on his way down. Under "Straight Jump Flight Deductions", it lists:

Arms not held overhead until landing.

That means arms held overhead until contact with the mat? Not sure I've ever seen anyone accomplish that. Anyone got a video that shows it?

ryantroop makes some good comments about his landing being "a little heavy", "chest was low", feet a little "loose". How are these incorporated into the score?

Performance Bonus: Award up to 0.5 for exceptional power and/or efficient blocking action resulting in exceptional rise and height in the vault. It is to be awarded in increments of 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 only.

Looked to me like he had plenty of power. The manual doesn't talk about height or distance. I'd like to think he got at least .3 for that bonus.

Seems like he stuck it to me. I'll give him the .2 bonus.

I agree with all of your comments about his body position problems. There's much work to be done.

You all have been fantastic! If all of our kids got this kind of review of their events, we'd all be meeting each other at the Olympics! ;)

- Harv

p.s. Bob - the "other" coach you saw in that p-bar crash video is our gym's fitness coach. Our boys get him one session a week. After he tortures them for a while, he helps them out with their skills.


Underarm swing=arm circle. As well, a straight arm circle takes too much time to finish compared to a bent arm circle.

De' boys are supposed to keep those arms vertical pinned to their ears in flight till sticking. Most boys " stick " landings tend to be pretty atrocious. Not always, but often. I think maybe they see what the Elites get away with and think it's ok.

My boys got hit with arm flap in their run. Personally, I don't agree with a fixed angle in their elbow as they run, but whatev ( this is from my days as a sprinter ). They flap apparently side to side across their bodies a bit which is a no-no.

When their step is off they get hit with run deceleration. #1 MuscleMan was pretty sick on friday and today and at the meet but pulled out his best of the season, I think. I still don't have the scores from Tidal Wave and only a rough idea of how he did.

I won't see the video till Wednesday of the boy's meet if any of the parents took any. One, got the highest vault score during the meet-heheh. He's our best vaulter but his size and speed ( if he ever got big he'd have a good shape for a tailback but I don't think he'll get that big but he has a good wrestler build ). I have a 5yo going on 6 that's gonna be a great vaulter as he has just awesome coordination I can see already.

When I went back and looked at the PB crash, I recognized your gym. It all started to click.

Dunno about his feet, oh wait I did see it before landing, slight flex and seperation.

I don't think his run shows deceleration. If anything it seems a bit short for him and that he doesn't get up to speed nor does he take many steps. I'm guessing 7 strides per leg.
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