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Compulsory vs Optional Gymnastics [What’s The Difference?]

compulsory vs optional gymnastics

Let me be the first to confess that as someone who used to be a competitive gymnast and later on slowing down due to marriage and family life, the many differing levels found online can be quite confusing. 

If you are someone who is lost in the pool of misinformation or overload of information with complex gymnastics jargon that is beyond your understanding, I get you. 

With that heart-to-heart conversation coming to an end, let’s get into the details of it. I am going to try and make it as effortless as I can for your comfort and better understanding of compulsory vs optional gymnastics.

Compulsory gymnastics 

Primarily, the widely known Junior Olympics Program further has both compulsory and optional routines (for varying reasons). 

The beginner levels, from level 1 to level 5 are compulsory. This means that all the gymnasts in a level are to perform an identical routine comprising the same skills. For example, if a child is in level 3, she along with all other children in these levels will be performing and practicing the same skills on the same events. 

The highly appreciable reasoning behind these levels being compulsory is that they have a progressive nature. Each of them is bound to incorporate new skills in a gymnast and open the door for broader horizons.

To keep the routines in check, every one of the levels further builds on the skills that were previously learned. For this reason, in the initial compulsory levels, a gymnast needs to be mindful of both the composition of their routine and how well it is overall performed. 

Optional gymnastics

The paramount difference between compulsory vs optional gymnastics is that in the latter, a gymnast gets to choose what routine they have to perform. By that, gymnasts get a choreographer specifically for that particular routine.

The only rule you have to live by as a gymnast who performs an optional routine is of certain levels of difficulty and other secondary factors. This is done so to maintain a certain level of discipline and to reach a fair judgment at the end of the day.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that once you have made it past the compulsory levels stage in the Junior Olympics, you are free to show off your exceptional strengths and skills. 

The Xcel Program was also created as an optional program that consists of the 5 basic stages, bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond. This program is designed as a way for lower level gymnasts to compete in optional routines.