Did you enjoy watching primetime gymnastics during the Tokyo Olympics this summer? If so, there’s more quality content where that came from. NCAA sports features talented gymnasts from all over the United States, and even international athletes who study here. Considering that the median age of USA women’s gymnastics team was 21 years, there’s a good chance that fans can catch their new favorite athletes competing on the collegiate level this fall and winter.
The NCAA has made some adjustments to the format of competitions. Effective this upcoming season, dual meets will fall under the head to head format style of competition. This essentially means that gymnasts from opposing teams must follow the opposition on the same event. If a gymnast from Team A performs their routine on the parallel bars, then an opposing gymnast from Team B must follow with a routine of their own on the same specific gymnastic discipline.
This hasn’t been the case in prior years, as gymnasts did not have to perform their events in a specific order relative to the competition. The goal for this format update is to have fans of the sport follow the competition with a little less confusion. It should help achieve that, since the gymnast from Team B in the above example can’t decide to perform on the pommel horse right after their counterpart has done a parallel bars routine.
There’s also been a change to how scoring for men’s gymnastics will unfold*. In previous seasons, the NCAA allowed six competitors to compete in each event. However, only the best five scores would count towards the team’s total, giving them a little wiggle room if one gymnast was struggling. In this upcoming regular season, the concept of the sixth gymnast and dropping the lowest score will be eliminated. All five competitors will perform each event, and all five scores will count. The logic here is to remove extraneous performances from the meet and improve the pace of competition.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel also implemented the concept of halftime into competitions. There will now be a six minute break after the first three events.
All things considered, it seems like the changes will be a good thing for the sport. It should be easier to follow, move forward at an expedited clip, and give fans and athletes the chance to regroup in the middle of the competition.