Junior Olympic Program Overview

The Junior Olympic program was developed with the belief that all athletes, regardless of their potential, must have a solid foundation of basic skills in order to advance safely. The program allows the gymnast to advance at her own pace, competing in more than one level in a year, if she so chooses.

In order to compete in a sanctioned competition, an athlete must be a registered USA Gymnastics Athlete Member or Introductory Athlete Member (Levels 1-2 & Xcel).

A gymnast may compete in a maximum of two (2) State meets per competitive year (one per season), either at the same or higher Level.

The Women's Junior Olympic Program is divided into three major segments; developmental, compulsory, and optional.

  1. The Developmental Levels 1 through 3 may be used as a non-competitive and achievement-oriented program for use within a gym's pre-team program, or they may be used as an introductory/recreational competitive program. States may offer State Championships for these levels.

    1. In-gym or inter-club testing.
    2. Equipment should accommodate the size of the gymnasts.
    3. Gymnasts must enter at Level 1, but may progress through the events and skills at different levels.
    4. Athletes may not skip any level (exception…Level 6 may be skipped, see below). They must advance one level at a time by scoring the minimum mobility score at any USA Gymnastics sanctioned competition (Exception: Levels 1-3 do not have a mobility score)
    5. A gymnast may not advance to Level 4 until she has completed the requirements as listed in the Entry & Mobility chart.
    6. Levels 1-2: Some states have an organized Level 1-2 competitive program with sanctioned events.
      • Contact your State Administrative Committee Chairman for information on scheduling, judging criteria, etc.

  2. The second part consists of Compulsory Levels 4 and 5. Both of these levels are progressive in nature, building upon the skills required at the previous level. Competitive opportunities are provided up to and including the USA Gymnastics State Championships.

  3. The third segment is the Optional Levels 6-10. Levels 6, 7, 8, and 9 have difficulty restrictions, while Level 10 has no restrictions in the skill choice. Composition is evaluated at Levels 8, 9, and 10. Refer to the Jr. Olympic Code of Points for a complete explanation of Level 6-10 rules.

    1. Level 6 & 7 has competitive opportunities up to and including State Championships.
    2. Additional competitive opportunities are provided for Levels 8-10, with the Level 10 competitive season culminating at the Jr. Olympic National Championships, Level 9 at the Eastern or Western Championships and Level 8 at the Regional Championships.

A non-competitive educational Jr. Olympic Dance Workout Program (Workouts 1-5) is also available to provide proper dance training for gymnastics. The text, DVDs and CDs can be ordered through the Merchandise Provider or from the USA Gymnastics online store at www.usagymstore.com.

Junior Olympic competitions are conducted throughout the United States and are organized by the USA Gymnastics State and Regional Administrative Committees. Each state has the jurisdiction to determine its state calendar, according to the needs of its members. A Jr. Olympic COMPETITIVE YEAR is defined as the period from August 1 through July 31. A COMPETITIVE SEASON is defined as that period from the first designated qualifying competition through the culminating Championships at each level.

Age Requirements and Mobility Scores
  1. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, fairness to all athletes and competitive balance, the mobility system within the Jr. Olympic Program should be followed in the manner that it was intended:

    1. Before moving up a level, every athlete should show proficiency at her current level.
    2. Once a high level of proficiency is achieved at the athlete's current level, she should strive to move up to the next level, as long as it is done safely.
    3. For athletes to repeat a level with the intent to gain an advantage over other competitors or teams IS NOT in the spirit of the Jr. Olympic Program or youth sports in general.

  2. No mandate scores are permitted at any level. The Jr. Olympic program's purpose is to provide competitive opportunities for all athletes, regardless of their age, ability level, or training commitment in terms of hours and/or finances.

  3. Age Determination and Regulations

    1. All gymnasts must reach the minimum age for the level before competing in any USA Gymnastics sanctioned competition (see chart below).
      Example: Level 3 State meet date is Dec. 1; the last Level 3 State Qualifier is November 17, the gymnast will turn the minimum age for level 3 (6 yrs. old) on November 28th. She is ineligible to compete in the qualifying meet, and therefore does not have the opportunity to qualify to the Level 3 State Championships that season.
    2. For invitationals and qualifying meets below the State Championships, the Meet Director may determine the age divisions and must publish such information in the pre-meet information.
    3. For all meets under the jurisdiction of the State or Regional Administrative Committees, the respective committee may determine the method of determining age divisions. There are basically two options:
      1. Age groups for the season: established by specific ages (i.e., 8-10 yr. olds, 11-12, etc.).
        1. In this case, the age divisions should be determined and published PRIOR to the competitive SEASON and the only adjustments that may be made during the season are sub-divisions of the age groups.
          • Exception: At Level 9 or 10 State meet and below, age divisions may be combined if the number of athletes is small.
        2. The gymnast's age for the competitive season is determined by the date of the final day of competition at the culminating championship meet for that level. Exception: The gymnast must have reached the minimum age for her level prior to entering any qualifying competition.
          1. For Levels 1, 2 – age is determined by the date of the culminating competition as directed by the State Administrative Committee.
          2. For Levels 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 - age is determined by the date of the last day of the State Meet (or Sectional, if no State meet is held).
          3. For Level 8 – age is determined by the date of the last day of the Regional Meet.
          4. For Levels 9 & 10 State meets and below– age is determined by the date of the last day of the State meet.
        3. The gymnast must compete with the age division as designated for the entire season.
        4. Published results MAY NOT include the gymnast's date of birth.
      2. Age groups for each competition: established by dividing the athletes by actual birth date into approximately equal groups according to a pre-determined number of age divisions or by a pre-determined maximum number of athletes per age division.
        • Meet Directors must publish or post online the meet schedule/age divisions as soon as possible after the entry deadline.
    4. Age divisions for the Level 9 and 10 Regional, Level 9 East/West and Level 10 Jr. Olympic National Championships and the NIT will be determined by the National Office.
      1. The State Administrative Chairmen must report the names of all qualifiers to Level 9 and 10 State Meet to their Regional Administrative Chairman by the date of their state meet entry deadline.
      2. The Regional Administrative Committee Chairmen will compile the data for their region and forward it to the Women's National Jr. Olympic Program Director.
      3. The Women's Jr. Olympic Program Director will then determine the age divisions by dividing the athletes by birth date into approximately equal groups according to the designated number of prescribed age divisions.
      4. The age divisions will be published on the USA Gymnastics web site and will also be sent directly to all State and Regional Administrative Committee Chairmen.
    5. If a gymnast competes in the wrong age division, her scores are invalid for the meet (may not be used for All-Around, Individual Events or Team awards); however, the score achieved may be used for level mobility.
      • If, due to religious reasons or valid unforeseen circumstances, a gymnast is unable to compete with her designated age group, she may compete on another day (or in another session) with the approval of the SACC. She will not be eligible for ANY awards. Her score may be used for mobility or qualification purposes (if qualification is by score, not placement or percentage) to the next meet.

    Age/Entry Requirements and Mobility Scores Overview Chart

    Minimum Age Requirement
    Pre-requisite Scores
    Previous Experience
    Mobility Score to Advance to the Next Level
    L. 1 - Reached 4th birthday
    L. 2 - Reached 5th birthday
    None   None
    Reached 6th birthday None   None
    Reached 7th birthday 75% proficiency at Level
    1-3 on Vault, Bars, Beam, Floor
    Level 4 or 5* 34.00 AA at Level 4
    Reached 7th birthday 34.00 AA at Level 4 Level 5 or 6* 32.00 AA at Level 5 or old level 4.
    Mobility back and forth between Levels 5 & 6 is allowed
    Reached 7th birthday 32.00 AA at Level 5 Level 6 or 7* 32.00 AA at Level 6
    Level 6 may be skipped if a 32.00 AA was achieved at Level 5
    Reached 7th birthday 32.00 AA at Level 5 or 6 Level 7 or 8* 32.00 AA at Level 7
    Ind. Event Specialist: 8.5 per event
    Reached 8th birthday 32.00 AA at Level 7 Level 8 or 9* 34.00 AA at Level 8
    Ind. Event Specialist: 8.5 per event
    Reached 8th birthday 34.00 AA at Level 8 Level 9 or 10* 34.00 AA at Level 9 to move to Level 10
    Ind. Event Specialist: 8.5 per event
    Reached 9th birthday 34.00 AA at Level 9 Level 10 or Elite* None

    * See the next section for specifics of dropping back

  4. Dropping Back through the Levels
    1. Once a gymnast has competed in a Sectional meet, she may NOT drop back to a lower level in the same competitive season.
      • If no Sectional meet is held, then the State Administrative Committee must determine prior to the beginning of the competitive year, a designated "declaration" date for each level for such purpose.
    2. If a gymnast does not qualify to the State Championships, she may petition to drop back one Level at the beginning of the next competitive season.
      1. For Levels 7 and below, petition is sent to the State Administrative Committee Chairman.
      2. For Levels 8, 9 & 10, petition is sent to the Regional Technical Committee Chairman.
    3. Once an athlete competes in the State Championships, she is not allowed to drop back.
      Valid reasons would be considered by the State Administrative Committee Chairman (for Levels 7 & below) or the Regional Technical Committee Chairman (for Levels 8, 9 & 10) for dropping back an athlete who has competed in a State Championships. Exception: Mobility is allowed back and forth from Levels 5 and 6 without going through the petitioning process.
      1. These reasons would include injury, illness, or other extenuating circumstances that would have prevented the athlete from continuing to train at the level at which they previously competed.
      2. If a valid reason does exist, the athlete would be able to drop back only one NUMERICAL level (i.e. competed Level 8, permission to drop back one numerical level to Level 7.)
    4. An Elite gymnast may petition to drop back to the JO program by sending a "reason for change" letter FROM HER COACH to the National Junior Olympic Committee Chairman. An Elite gymnast from the US or a non‐US citizen residing in the US who previously competed for a foreign national team may petition to drop back to the JO program by sending a "reason for change" letter FROM HER COACH to the National Junior Olympic Committee Chair.
      1. All petitions must be received at least three weeks prior to the Level 10 State Meet.
      2. The National Jr. Olympic Committee will review the petition and the Chairman will notify the coach of the acceptance/denial of the petition and will copy the respective State and Regional Administrative Committee Chairmen and the Regional Technical Committee Chairman.
      3. Accepted petitioned athletes may not re-enter the Elite/Pre-Elite Program during that Elite competitive year (through Championships of the year in which she competes Level 10).
      4. Clarification: An elite athlete dropping back into the JO program is considered a JO athlete when she enters her first USA Gymnastics sanctioned event as a Level 10 athlete.
    5. Any gymnast who competed at the Pre-Elite level (at a Regional or National qualifier and/or Challenge competition) may choose to compete as a Level 10 in the following season, since she is considered as a Pre-Elite athlete. No petition is necessary.
Alternative Competition Experience/Entry/Mobility Policies

Alternative Competition Experience Policies

  1. Any athlete who has previously competed in the Jr. Olympic Program, but has been inactive for one or more years, must contact their State Administrative Committee Chairman for proper entry regulations. The options are:
    1. Remain at the level at which they last competed.
    2. Move up one level if they achieved the minimum mobility score during their last season.
    3. Move down one numerical level, without petitioning.
  2. Athletes whose competitive experience has been in any system (including USA Gymnastics’ Xcel Program) must enter the Junior Olympic Program at Level 4.
  3. Any gymnast who has had previous competitive experience in any system (including USA Gymnastics) and who is a minimum of 14 years of age OR is at least a freshman in High School is eligible to petition by submitting a formal written request to the State Administrative Committee for entry into Level 7 and below. The petition must be accompanied by a video that demonstrates her skill level.
    • Refer to Chapter 2, page 32 for Foreign Athlete Participation in the Jr. Olympic Program.
  4. States may incorporate sub-divisions within levels (such as first-year competitors and veterans or divisions based on scores achieved) or they may provide a team competition that is conducted separately from the state individual competition.
  5. Individual Event Specialists; the mobility score for advancement to the next level for Individual Event Specialists at Levels 7, 8, and 9 is 8.50 per event.
  6. Athletes who are limited in the number of events in which they can perform due to a permanent physical handicap (verified by a physician) may petition to qualify to a higher level by achieving an average score equal to the average of the All-Around qualifying score for that level. Submit petitions in a formal written request for Levels 7 and below to the State Administrative Committee Chairman and the final decision is determined by the State Administrative Committee. For Levels 8 and above, petitions are sent to the Regional Administrative Committee Chairman and the final decision is determined by the Regional Administrative Committee.
  7. Injury or illness petitions – see IV.
General Procedures for Petitions for USA Gymnastics Jr. Olympic Competitions
  1. Petitions may be considered for the following reasons:
    • Injury, Illness or family tragedy (e.g., death, natural disaster)
  2. If an athlete is injured prior to a qualifying meet, but is capable of competing in one, two or three events, she may compete in the qualifying meet without jeopardizing her right to petition to the next competition.
    • If a gymnast COMPLETES all four events in a qualifying meet, she is not eligible to petition and advance to the next competition.
  3. The coach (or club administrator) is responsible for submitting all necessary documentation for the petition on behalf of the petitioning athlete.
  4. Entry fees for petitioned athletes should be submitted by the entry deadline. If the petition is denied, the Meet Director must refund the entry fee within three weeks.
  5. Forms are posted on the USA Gymnastics website under Women's Program – Forms – Petition Forms or are available from your State Administrative Committee Chairman.
  6. Specific procedures for State, Regional, Level 9 East/West Championships, Level 10 National Championships, and NIT are in the sections for those events.
For more detailed information please go the USA Gymnastics Women's Program Rules and Policies.