No. 5 LSU at No. 9 Alabama
When: Friday at 8 p.m.
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 6-1, 1-0 SEC; LSU 1-2, 0-2 SEC
TV: SEC Network

Gymnastics is a numbers game.

Sure, perfection leads to high scores. But it’s not the only thing. Not every routine is capable of receiving a perfect 10, even if done flawlessly.

“I try to simplify it this way,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said. “Based on our rules, you have to have a certain number of skills and different skills have different ratings – A, B, C, D, E – and you get different bonuses for the different skills and the different combinations that you put together.”

Put it all together, and that’s a routine. Every routine then has a predetermined max score. It’s called a start value.

“When you do the baseline, it’s a 9.5,” Duckworth said. “Then you have to get five-tenths of bonus (to have a 10.0 start value). So if you do a D skill by itself, it’s one-tenth bonus. If you do an E skill by itself, it’s two-tenths bonus.”

The list goes on depending on the event until a gymnast reaches her full potential.

All of the Crimson Tide’s vault, balance beam and floor exercise routines have a 10.0 start value this season.

Vault is a different story. It’s more common to have a 9.95 start value since in 2015 the popular Yurchenko full went from a 10.0 to a 9.95.

Senior Ariana Guerra, sophomore Lexi Graber and freshman Shallon Olsen compete 10.0 vaults.

“I just think it’s fun and thrilling,” Guerra said. “It’s useful for the team as well since it’s a 10.0 value.”

Which allows more room for error without hurting the score too much.

Throughout a routine, a gymnast isn’t award points. They are deducted. Points can be taken away for a variety of things — a botched skill, toes not pointed, a wobble on the beam, a crooked handstand on bars, a hop on a dismount, stepping out of bounds, etc. That’s why the little things — what the Crimson Tide calls its 0.025s – are so important.

After every meet, Duckworth gets a score sheet from the judges, which shows her where deductions were taken.

“We’ll go on and really work extra hard on that, even though we might be like, ‘Oh, I wonder how they took that,’” Alabama freshman Emily Gaskins said. “But then it’s like they still took it, so we have to fix it.”

Take Alabama and beam this season for example. The NCAA implemented a new concentration pause penalty on the event, and it hurt the Crimson Tide at the start of the season. UA scored a 47.7 in its first meet, then it posted a 48.675 and most recently a 49.2. The team adapted and improved.

Rules are always changing, so it can be hard to keep up.

“Especially when some of my friends who don’t know much about gymnastics but they know scores, they’re like, ‘But you stayed on, how come it was so slow?’” Gaskins said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I try to explain it to them. It’s kind of complicated because sometimes you don’t understand it yourself.”

Reach Terrin Waack at or at 205-722-0229.