Freestyle Deductions

This week on the blog, we will be discussing a variety of different freestyle deductions, including mistakes, required elements, space, and time violations. This post will define each category and why we think a deduction should be made when these occurs. We will also discuss which judges will watch for deductions and why. As usual, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please fill out the survey at the end of the post so we can engage with your feedback next week!

Deduction Judges

In the IJRU judging system, deduction judges will count mistakes, required elements, space, and time violations. The reason for creating a separate panel of deduction judges is to divide up the tasks each judge is asked to perform, so that each judge (deduction, difficulty/content, and presentation) can focus on less tasks at a time and can have a better opportunity to produce more accurate scores.


In both FISAC-IRSF and WJRF, mistakes were divided into two categories: major mistakes and minor mistakes. A major mistake was defined by both organizations as any mistake that took longer than two seconds to recover. A minor mistake was any mistake that took less than two seconds to recover. Major mistakes resulted in a larger deduction than minor mistakes. The IJRU Technical Congress has decided to define mistakes differently. Asking judges to count 2 seconds in order to determine the type of mistake leaves room for error and/or variance between judges. Major mistakes can result in a significant deduction for an athlete and we don’t believe identifying a mistake should be subjective in any way. Instead, we have decided to only identify one type of mistake and this will receive a single and consistent deduction. The difference between a short and long recovery time will be accounted for by the presentation judges, because a longer mistake will detract more from the overall performance of a routine.

A mistake is defined as any time the rope unintentionally stops. If an athlete drops a handle or misses catching the handle during a release, this is defined as a miss. A miss is not counted for a bobble, where the rope catches on the body, but the athlete is still able to complete the jump. Instead, this will be accounted for by presentation judges.

Space Violations

A space violation in freestyle will be given each time part of the athlete’s body touches the floor outside of the competition area. This means that an athlete could receive multiple space violations in a single event trial.  The arc of the rope can exit the competition area without causing a space violation. The reason for this distinction is to make it easy for the judges to determine when a space violation has occurred. The location of the judging panel makes it difficult to fully determine if a rope crosses a boundary. For example, it may be difficult to tell if an athlete’s rope has crossed the back boundary if you are seated at a judging panel at the front of the competition floor. In order to remove this subjectivity, we decided to make a space violation easier to detect. Also, no competition area will border another competition area. This means that a rope crossing the boundary has almost no chance of interfering with another competitor. Similarly, if an athlete’s arm waves outside of the competition area or their leg is kicked out of the area, they will not receive a space violation. The body part actually needs to touch the ground outside of the boundary for a space violation to be given. If part of an athlete’s hand or part of an athlete’s foot crosses the boundary and touches the floor, a space violation will be deducted.  For example, if half of an athlete’s hand is outside the boundary during a frog, this is considered a space violation.

When an athlete is outside of the competition area, no skills will be judged until the athlete re-enters the competition boundaries. In team events, a space violation is awarded each time any athlete on the team exits the competition boundary. This means that if one athlete is out of the boundary and then another athlete on the team exits the boundary, two space violations will be deducted at the same time.

The purpose of creating competition boundaries and penalizing athletes for space violations is to ensure that each athlete performs their events in the same environment. Athletes are being asked to create a routine within a standardized space, so in order to treat each athlete equally, deductions will  made each time an athlete leaves the space.

Space violations will result in the same penalty as one mistake. This will be deducted from the raw score. The exact number deducted for misses and space violations has not been determined.

Time Violations

The technical congress has decided to make some changes to the way that freestyle events are timed. The event call outs can detract from the overall performance and we would like to work towards creating an atmosphere similar to competitive figure skating. During figure skating programs, music is played and the routine lengths are standardized and so well-choreographed that no time signals are necessary. In order to move towards this goal, we have decided to remove the minimum time for freestyle routines at the IJRU World Championship level. In our proposed system, if an athlete completes a routine that is under 45 seconds in length, it will be very difficult for them to perform enough skills to reach a score higher than an athlete who performs a routine that is 75 seconds long, especially at a world level. As a result, we don’t believe as though it is necessary to set a minimum time requirement. This will also allow us to remove time call-outs midway through the routine, which can detract from the overall performance and professionalism of the sport.

That being said, athletes can still receive a time violation in freestyle events by continuing to perform after the maximum time limit of 75 seconds. All athletes will be required to submit a music file that does not exceed 75 seconds in length. This way, if an athlete continues to perform after their music has stopped, a time violation will be awarded. The music track should act as the time track in all freestyle routines. If a music track is longer than 75 seconds and the athlete continues to perform after 75 seconds, this will also result in a time violation. It will be up the athletes and coaches to ensure that all music tracks do not exceed 75 seconds.

A time violation can also be awarded for a false start during a freestyle routine. An example would be if an athlete begins to move to perform their routine before the music starts. Because the music track is acting as the timing track, any movement prior to the music will be considered a false start and the athlete will receive a time violation deduction. All time violations will be awarded the same deduction as one mistake.

This rule may not apply to the Youth or Open tournaments, because routine lengths and music requirements may be different. We are still in the process of developing the Youth and Open tournament rules.

Required Elements

Next week on the blog, we will be diving into the specific details surrounding required elements, but today we will briefly introduce the topic and discuss how they will be assessed by the deduction judges. Required elements are used to ensure that routines are dynamic and they also encourage athletes to become well-rounded freestyle jumpers. Essentially, athletes will be required to perform a certain number of multiples, power/gymnastics skills, rope manipulations, partner interactions, and turner involvement skills. The required elements will vary slightly depending on the event. For each required element that is not successfully completed during a routine the athlete(s) will receive a deduction from their raw score. FISAC-IRSF awarded points each time a required element was completed, in addition to the difficulty and presentation of the skill. We believe that since these skills already receive points to related to their difficulty level and how well they are performed, required elements should not earn additional points. Instead, failure to complete a required element will result in a deduction from the total raw score. The exact amount that will be deducted has not been determined at this point.

Community Commentary

If a team of 5 enters the Single Rope Team Overall category and nominates 2 team members to compete in the Single Rope Pairs Double Unders and/or Single Rope Pairs Freestyle - can 2 of the remaining 3 team members compete in either/both of those events individually?

Yes. If there are members of a team not competing in a specific event for their team (ie Single Rope Pairs Freestyle, Single Rope Pairs Double Unders 2x30, Double Dutch Singles Freestyle, Double Dutch Speed 1x60), they can compete in that individual event as long as they qualified. Only those entered into the overall category will impact the placement of the overall teams. This means the placements of event specialists will be removed from the field in order to tabulate the overall champions.

We have received a lot of positive feedback in relation to the event selection for the 2020 IJRU Wold Championships that were announced a few weeks ago. That being said, we have received some concerns, primarily in relation to the Triple Under event being included in the Individual Overall category. The concern is that this event is “inherently harmful for the athletes” and that we shouldn’t be asking athletes to compete to “a state of complete exhaustion.”

The Technical Congress is aware that Triple Unders used to be part of the Masters overall event in previous FISAC-IRSF tournaments and was removed as a result of complaints from some coaches, athletes, and parents that the event was harmful to the body and put unnecessary stress on the athlete’s joints. We take the health and safety of all athletes very seriously and are in the process of looking into medical studies that have been conducted specifically on the Triple Under event in order to help guide our decision making. One particular study focuses on the issue of incontinence. We also recommended to the IJRU Board of Directors that they study the potential health/safety issues associated with all events, not just Triple Unders. We believe that it is important that we gather empirical data to help make these decisions, rather than rely solely on anecdotal information. We do not have conclusive data to show that the Triple Under event causes more injuries than any other event in the sport of jump rope/rope skipping. Eventually, we would like the IJRU to create a database that records all jump rope related injuries. This will allow us to see when/how our athletes are being injured and will help the organization develop solutions and educational materials that can be shared with athletes and coaches. 

It is also important to note, that some athletes and countries have continued to compete the triple under event. With proper training and conditioning, some of the potential risks associated with this event, and others, can be avoided. For example, it is important that athletes competing at a high level engage in cross-training and weight training in order to develop strong enough muscles to support their joints. This is something the IJRU could help educate coaches and athletes around.

The Technical Congress also believes that many sports test athletes to the point of exhaustion. For example, running a marathon is meant to test the limits of human endurance. Our athletes already compete to a state of exhaustion in most events. In other sports, athletes are tested to their limits. For example, weight lifting, high jump, and a number of track events ask athletes to continue until they can’t go any further. We don’t believe as though the Triple Under event is any different from other sporting events. Pushing the limits of human capability is one aspect of competitive sports, and we don’t think this alone is a legitimate reason to remove the Triple Under event from the overall category.

Finally, it is important to remember that the events that have been announced are only for those competing in the World Championships. We have not announced events for the Youth or Open tournaments. In order to take into consideration long term athlete development, we may modify some events (i.e. length, skill) in order to help encourage healthy physical development.

Until next week,
The IJRU Technical Congress

Survey doesn’t load? Click here