Individual routines are performed to music and last from 75 to 90 seconds. A penalty of .05 points will be assessed for every second over or under the time allowed. The clock begins as soon as the gymnast begins moving and stops as soon as the gymnast is motionless. The gymnast is required to be in contact with her apparatus before beginning her routine. She also is obliged to finish her exercise either holding her apparatus or having any part of her body in contact with it.
As a general guideline, faults are assessed according to degree. For small faults, .10 points are subtracted from a competitor's score. For medium faults, .20 points are deducted; for major faults, the penalty is .30 or greater.
There are two juries for each apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics, one with four and the other with five judges.
The jury with four judges determines the difficulty (D) score. They evaluate the routine's technical value, including body difficulty (jumps, leaps, balances), apparatus mastery and originality, dynamic elements (throws and rotations of apparatus) and dance steps combinations. The highest and lowest scores are dropped, and the middle two scores are averaged. The maximum D score is 10.0 points.
The jury with five judges determines the execution (E) score. They evaluate the artistic components of the routine, the unity of composition, use of space, body movements, correlation between the music and movement, even use of right and left hands and any technical vaults. The highest and lowest scores are dropped, and the middle three scores are averaged. The maximum E score is 10.0 points.
The final score for a routine is obtained by adding the two scores for difficulty (D) and execution (E).
D: Maximum 10.00 pts
E: Maximum 10.00 pts
Final score: Maximum 20.00 pts
With four apparatus in use, the maximum all-around total possible in 80.00.
- If a gymnast drops the apparatus, she is penalized .30 points if she can retrieve it without any traveling, .50 points if the apparatus is retrieved after traveling 1-2 steps, .70 points if the apparatus is retrieved after more than 3 steps or outside the floor area.
- If a gymnast crosses the boundary of the floor during an exercise, she is assessed a .30-point penalty.
- If the apparatus breaks or is lost by a gymnast during an exercise, the gymnast is not permitted to restart the exercise. She may continue with a replacement apparatus, but will incur a 0.70-point penalty.
- When performing jumping and balancing maneuvers, gymnasts can be penalized points for a lack of amplitude, a heavy landing or a lack of fixed or well-defined shape.
In the group competition, the same penalty system as with the individual competition applies, with each group member's mistake counting against the team's total score. For instance, if two or more gymnasts simultaneously cross the boundary, a deduction of .30 points will be assessed for each gymnast at fault.
Group exercises last from 2 minutes, 15 seconds to 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The clock is started at soon as any gymnast begins to move. It stops when all five gymnasts are completely stationary. A .05-point penalty is applied for each second under or over the time limit.
At the start of the group exercise, one or several gymnasts do not need to be touching an apparatus, but they will incur a 0.30 point deduction if they remain without an apparatus for longer than four seconds after the music begins. At the end of the exercise, all five gymnasts do not need to be in contact with an apparatus, but will be penalized 0.30 points if none of the gymnasts are touching an apparatus in the final position.
The group will be deducted 0.50 points or more for any collisions between gymnasts or apparatus.