June 19, 2013

2012 Skill Frequency – Balance Beam

A sequel!

Actually, that exclamation mark is a little too enthusiastic for these purposes.

A sequel. There, that feels more appropriate. It better encapsulates the split jump + sissone mood that I'm going for here.

Following the same procedure as for bars frequency, the following tables show the frequency with which skills were performed on balance beam at 2012 Visa Championships (% of total routines featuring the skill). This time, I did not limit to C skills because then how would we discuss turns and dance combinations? Instead, I included all skills except back handsprings, front handsprings, and round-offs.

When counting the elements, I credited the skill attempted rather than the skill that would actually have been awarded by a judge with eyes since this is about intended composition choices. Determining the skill attempted was a burden sometimes because . . . these switch rings, you guys. (Why would a coach include a never-getting-credit-in-this-universe switch ring and a switch split in the same routine? The switch ring is always going to be downgraded, so the switch split becomes a repeated skill. It happened a lot.)  

Skills are divided by type and sorted by the frequency of their appearances in senior routines. The junior routines and total frequency throughout all 45 routines (22 senior, 23 junior) are also included for the sake of comparison.

Much like the bail handstand+stalder shoot on bars, the free walkover and layout stepout dominate the acrobatic proceedings because of the gold mine that was the D+B+C combination for .2 CV, which was probably the silliest part of the 2006-2012 codes. When a code regulation is imposed, routines will always descend to the least challenging or least creative denominator in order to fulfill the requirement with minimum risk (which is why broad and vague is preferable to specific when it comes to the code – when a regulation is too specific, the solutions will always be identical). D+B+C and free walkover+bhs+loso was by such a large margin the easiest way to receive .2 CV that no other combination stood a chance.

That is why, as of now, I am happy with the series bonus rule on beam because it creates more parity across combinations. No combination is valued so high with respect to its difficulty that it shuts out all other combinations the way D+B+C used to. The series bonus is a broader way of awarding CV and allows for more composition solutions. Let's just hope this one doesn't descend to some heretofore unimagined least creative denominator as well.

In spite of the new (and welcome) focus on rebounding connections, I still expect the free walkover to reign supreme over the next four years because it is a solid D acro that nearly everyone at this level can do and because the D acro + A dance combination will help it retain combination worth.

Because of that D+B+C combo, we nearly reached 100% of juniors performing the layout stepout, but plans were foiled by Ohashi and Desch and their infernal layout 1/1s, allowing them to eschew the layout stepout. What, just because you can do an amazingly difficult skill you think you're too good for a layout stepout? People these days.

In other news, that side somi percentage is too high for anyone's liking, and the onodi percentage is far too low. Interestingly, a significant gap emerged between the seniors and juniors in performing back pikes. Many seniors threw them after switch splits for the C+C connection, while juniors favored back tucks or did not attempt that kind of combination. It's probably another instance of juniors not being as focused on squeezing as many CV tenths out of the code.

Oh, the dance combination requirement. Where would the sissone be without you? Few incorporated counting dance elements into their combinations, with most favoring A+A instead, but the ones who did received a demure smile from me, which is worth more than a gold medal.

I'm slightly surprised by the relatively low number of wolf jumps. In my mind, they were in every routine. Maybe I was just being prescient because the D acro + A dance combination for this year is asking for a ton of wolf jumps again.

Instead of the split jump + wolf jump, the most popular way to fulfill the dance element combo requirement by far was the split jump + sissone. By the way, negative one million percent of gymnasts hit 180 in their sissones.


(To clarify, sitting on the beam like a lump of nothing encompasses everything in the squat through to rear support and flank to rear support families, all the "Are you actually doing anything besides personifying mental anguish?" mounts.)

(Also, rear support. I'm four.)

See the note about the least creative denominator above and apply it to the full turn. Why do something risky when you can fulfill the requirement by not doing that? Once US gymnasts woke up to the existence of the C+A turning connection around mid 2011, that helped save the L turn a bit. In the 2008 code, when the turn had to count, we saw L turns in nearly every routine. Now they're almost exclusively performed as part of L turn+full turn combinations for .1 CV.

The double pike was the favorite of the seniors, many using the B+B+E combination for .2, while the 2.5 was the clear favorite of the juniors. I'd love to argue for more variety in dismounts, but . . . what dismounts? Double fronts have gone to pasture because they don't allow for CV, and most everything else has difficulty that is too low to be impressive or too high to be performed in an aesthetically pleasing way.


  1. Split jump + sissone is now in the Level 5 compulsory beam routine. It's here to stay.

  2. How does D + B + C get .2? I thought there was just a .1 for SB. D+B and B+C aren't in the direct connections formula...

  3. Oh wait...I read more and you note that it's not included anymore. No worries!