This week on the blog, we will continue our discussion on presentation judging. We will outline the two different types of presentation judges that the Technical Congress recommends and what aspects each set of presentation judges will be responsible for judging. This will hopefully help to clear up some of the questions that members of the community had in regards to last week’s post on repeated skills.
The previous WJRF presentation judging system consisted of 1 set of 3 presentation judges. These 3 judges were responsible for evaluating the technical presentation and entertainment value of a routine. They used a tablet and software app to insert the presentation score in real time by pressing +/✓/- buttons. A plus was awarded anytime an athlete excelled in their presentation, a check was awarded for average presentation, and a minus was used when something detracted from the presentation. We believe that having three judges is too few to evaluate all presentation components. However, we like the idea of using an electronic device to input scores in real time. We feel this will help remove the potential for bias and human error from a judge trying to tabulate a score at the end of a routine. This also removes calculations from the judges’ responsibilities.
The previous FISAC-IRSF presentation judging system consisted of 1 set of 5 presentation judges. These 5 judges watched for use of music, skipping to the beat, movement, form and execution, originality, and overall impression. Presentation judges were asked to make marks on paper each time they saw an athlete use their music, for example. At the end of the routine, the judges would add up these marks and tabulate a total score based on the weighting of each component. We like that FISAC-IRSF included more presentation judges and divided presentation into 6 different components. However, we think that moving to an electronic device will help eliminate any potential tabulation errors, and splitting them into two types of presentation judges will allow each judge to focus on evaluating fewer components.
The Technical Congress has decided to divide presentation judging into two separate types: 1 that judges the choreography of the routine and 1 that judges how well the athlete performs the routine. By dividing these tasks, we hope to make presentation judging easier for the judges because they are watching for less. We also hope this will result in more consistent judging that will ultimately benefit the athletes and sport. We have not determined how many judges will be included in each set of presentation judges, but there will likely be a minimum of 3 per presentation judge type, which is more than either WJRF or FISAC-IRSF. We also want the judges to regularly enter scores in a concrete way throughout the routine.
Presentation Judge Type 1: Athlete Presentation
One set of presentation judges will be watching how well the athlete performs their routine. This will then be subdivided into two components: form/execution and style.
Form and Execution
For this component, judges will watch to make sure that athletes are not hunched over during skills, that their legs are straight for certain gymnastics moves, that they don’t sag in their push-ups, etc. There are a number of skills that are more impressive if performed using proper form and posture. As a result, we believe the form and body positioning of the athlete should be judged.
defined as how high the athlete jumps during skills. Multiples and some power/gymnastics skills, for example, are more impressive when athletes get a lot of height on their jumps. This makes the routine more exciting to watch and demonstrates a strong level of execution.
Bobbles/wobbling rope/arch of the rope
Because we have eliminated minor and major misses, we believe it is important to watch and deduct for any bobbles, wobbling ropes, or ropes that catch on an athlete, but don’t actually stop. These types of execution errors detract from the overall performance in a freestyle routine and should be judged.
Presentation judges will reward athletes who make eye contact with the judges and audience, rather than looking at the floor. Some display of confidence adds to the overall presentation of a routine.
The way an athlete behaves while on the competition floor can also impact their overall presentation. We want to encourage athletes to conduct themselves in a professional manner. For example, laughing after a mistake, eye-rolling, arguing with teammates during a routine will negatively impact the presentation and this will be reflected in the score. Conversely, an athlete who performs with poise and professionalism should be rewarded.
We want our athletes to look professional and part of that is through appearance. Uniforms should be clean, hair should be pulled off the face and not interfere with the performance in any way, and jewelry (if worn) shouldn’t interfere with or detract from the performance.
Here the judges can watch for personality, how well the athlete commands attention from the audience, and their overall style. A great performer will draw in their audience and make a connection.
Presentation Judge Type 2: Routine Choreography
The other set of presentation judges will be watching how well the routine was choreographed. This will then be subdivided into two components: entertainment and musicality.
We have identified creativity as a key component in a winning routine and believe that unique skills, combinations, and choreography add to the entertainment value of a routine. As a result, judges will reward athletes that put together unique and creative routines by looking for innovative skills and combinations that help push the sport forward.
Lack of repetition/repeated skills
Repetition and repeated skills detract from the entertainment of a routine. When a routine consists of repetitive skills, it becomes boring for the audience; this also includes large sections of a routine that contain similar looking skills. In order to account for this, athletes will receive a lower presentation score if their routine is repetitive.
Movement across the competition floor also adds to the entertainment value. If an athlete remains in the same place for their entire routine, this can look repetitive and it will be less dynamic and entertaining for the audience. As a result, athletes will be rewarded for moving across the floor in a creative and unpredictable way.
Routines that look choppy are not as entertaining as those that flow smoothly from start to finish. Creating smooth transitions will add to an athlete’s presentation score.
Wow factor/unexpected skills
We also want to encourage athletes to push the boundaries of the sport in their choreography and skill selection. Having skills that are really impressive and unexpected adds to the wow factor of a routine and is something that the presentation judges will reward. That being said, we don’t want athletes to attempt skills that they have not perfected. An athlete’s presentation score will decrease if they fall or stumble while attempting a skill. This will encourage athletes to only attempt skills that they can safely perfom.
Routines that are well-choreographed to the music are more exciting to watch, and the use of music can add to the overall presentation. If an athlete is able to use the music by jumping/skipping to the beat and hitting accents, they will receive a higher presentation score.
Selecting a song and altering the mood and style of choreography to match the song is one way that an athlete can tell a story in their routine.
We are aware that some of the categories and components that we have identified overlap in a number of ways. At this stage, we are still working through this system and are interested in hearing your feedback. Do you think any aspects of presentation are missing from this system?
We have also not yet assigned a weight for each category and component of the presentation judging system. Our working process is to first create a basic outline of the judging system that includes the presentation judging categories and components, as well as the difficulty levels for each skill/type of skill. Then, once that is completed, we will test the system by judging a wide range of routines at a variety of skill levels. This will allow us to understand the impact that certain decisions will have on the score of a routine.
Below we have outlined two ways we could approach the weighting of presentation. We are looking for general feedback on each and are open to alternative suggestions.
Each category could be worth the same percentage of the total score. For example, if presentation was worth 40% of the total score, each category could be worth 20%. Then each of the four components could also be weighted equally at 10% each. In this scenario, we would be weighting each category and component the same because we believe they are equally important aspects of a winning routine.
Alternatively, we could weigh some components of presentation higher than others. For example, the Routine Choreography category could be worth 25% of the score and the Athlete Presentation category could be worth 15%. Then each subcategory could also be weighted differently. In this scenario, we would be valuing Routine Choreography more in the judging system.
Please fill out the survey at the end of the post to provide your feedback, questions, and comments on this basic outline of the IJRU presentation judging system. This is still very much a work-in-progress, so all suggestions are welcome!
What is the definition of a repeated skill?
Many comments we received last week questioned how IJRU defines repeated skills. We feel it is important to clarify this issue and provide a more substantive definition. A repeated skill is any time an athlete or team completes the exact same skill within a routine. For example, a frog is a different skill than a frog-cross, double under frog, or frog-AS. The way in which athletes enter and exit skills, turner involvement, and multiples can add variation to a base skill and these skills will not receive deductions for repetition. However, if an athlete in a double dutch freestyle completed a standard frog during their routine and then another athlete on the same team completed a standard frog later, the routine would receive a deduction for repetition. This can be hard for judges to track throughout a routine, so we understand that this will likely only be detected if it is obvious to the judges that skills are being repeated. We also believe that repetitive movements should be avoided and therefore they will receive detract from the presentation score as well. For example, if an athlete completed a long multiples combination that was made up of mostly forward side-swing multiples without leg crosses or rotating, over time this will begin to look repetitive and will detract from the entertainment value of the routine. We understand that presentation judging will always include some subjectivity, but we would like the judging and training system to be as accurate and objective as possible.
Will presentation judges really be able to account for each repeated skill in a routine. Are we just moving the problem of repeated skills from the difficulty judges to the presentation judges? Should there be a separate panel of judges that only look for repeated skills?
We feel that repeated skills and repetitive choreography act in opposition to original/unique skills and combinations. As a result, we feel that it makes sense logically for presentation judges, specifically those watching the entertainment value of a routine, to account for repeated skills. Because we have decided to divide up presentation judging into two judge types that each watch for different components, we don’t feel we are asking too much of these judges.
I think a lot of people are waiting to see the whole draft rulebook/judging guide so we can start our own regional and national discussions. We were told in July that the rules would be sent out in October and although I have been enjoying the blog posts (which are very informative), it is very slow and at this rate we won't know the whole system until it's too late to make suggested changes before countries have to start implementing the rules.
We understand that the community is eager to see an entire draft of the rulebook, but we also want to make sure that we spend time carefully considering each rule and testing it to make sure that it will fit with the larger vision the IJRU has for the growth and development of the sport. We are also committed to receiving input and feedback from the community and this inevitably takes time. The IJRU Board of Directors stated that 80% of the rules would be communicated to the general membership between October 2018 and January 2019, and this is one of the roles of the blog. We are working diligently to have a draft version of the rulebook available in late January/early February to allow time for consultation and feedback prior to the AGM in July.
We have started writing and editing a copy of the rulebook, and we want the community to understand that this process takes time. Each word and phrase must be carefully considered to ensure that we are adequately communicating each rule with the intended meaning and in the simplest terms. We also need to structure the rulebook so that it is logically organized and easily searchable. Please continue to stick with us as we work through this process together.
Until next week,
The IJRU Technical Congress
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