The Xcel Gymnastics Program: A Complete Guide

Updated: Sep 2

The traditional program for competitive gymnastics is rigorous. It can be exhausting for an actively competing gymnast, giving them no time for other activities, interests, or sports. Luckily, there's another gymnastics program that is more lenient and less intense!


The Xcel Gymnastics Program is a less rigorous alternative to the traditional competitive gymnastics program, and it just might work better for your child! In this article, you'll learn what the Xcel Program is, how it works, and what differentiates it from the traditional gymnastics system.


What Is the Xcel Gymnastics Program?

The Xcel Gymnastics Program is a gymnastics system created in 2003 by the USA Gymnastics, the association in charge of competitive gymnastics in America. It was created to help gymnasts practice and master their gymnastics skills at their pace without the rigors of the traditional competitive gymnastics program — the JO Program.


The program has five gymnastics levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond, each with their optional rules for competition. This means that a gymnast can choreograph their routines according to their strengths and weaknesses, as long as it meets a few requirements (usually about 4 or 5). This allows for more lenient marking and higher marks.


The skill requirements for entry levels are lowered, so gymnasts can compete at any point. Also, aside from the basic entry levels, the Xcel Program has advanced levels which allow gymnasts to compete as they learn more gymnastics skills.


Similarly, gymnasts in the Xcel Program can practice skills required for national gymnastics competitions without aiming to reach the Olympics or the NCAA competition. Plus, gymnasts at higher skill levels can compete at lower skill levels.


The hardest level in the Xcel Program (Diamond) could be compared to the first optional level in the JO Program (Level 6). This means that without the Xcel Program, a gymnast may never perform a unique, individualized routine.


In addition, the Xcel Program is used to train high school gymnasts in readiness for a high school gymnastics team. Gymnasts who compete in the JO Program can also participate in the Xcel Program, especially if they seek an optional program to participate in during their "off" season.


What are the Xcel Gymnastics Levels?

There are 5 gymnastics levels in the Xcel Program, each of which could be roughly compared to levels in the Junior Olympic Gymnastics Program. They include:


  1. Bronze: which could be equated to a mix of Levels 1 and 2

  2. Silver: which could be equated to a mix of Levels 2 and 3

  3. Gold: which could be equated to a mix of Levels 4 and 5

  4. Platinum: which could be equated to a mix of Levels 5 and 6

  5. Diamond: which could be equated to a mix of Levels 6, 7 and 8


Bronze

For gymnasts to compete in the Xcel Bronze Division, they have to master the required skills and ensure that their routine fulfills certain requirements. Some gymnasts compete without mastering all the required skills, but failure to meet the requirements attracts mark deductions.


The Xcel Bronze requirements are as follows:


Vault Skills
  • Stretch jump to mat then kick to handstand OR

  • Jump to handstand and fall to flat back


Beam Skills
  • ½ (or 180 degree) turn on one or two feet

  • A jump or leap: an example is a tuck jump

  • A non-flight acro skill: an example is a forward roll

  • A dismount, excluding a Salto or aerial dismount: an example is a straddle jump off the beam


Floor Skills
  • At least two directly connected acro skills: an example is a roundoff–backward roll

  • A second pass with an acro skill: a cartwheel, for example

  • A dance passage with two skills where one should be a leap with a 60-degree cross or side split – directly or indirectly connected

  • At least a ½ (or 180 degree) turn on one foot.


Bar Skills
  • At least 4 "A" valued skills

  • A cast with hips leaving the bar

  • A circling skill that is not the mount or dismount

  • A dismount

Here's an example of a bar routine that meets these requirements: Jump to Front support > Cast > Back hip circle > Cast off stand dismount.


Silver

To compete in the Xcel Silver Division, gymnasts must master the required gymnastics skills and ensure that their routine meets stated requirements. Oftentimes, they compete without mastering all the required skills, but failure to meet the requirements attracts mark deductions.


Below are the Xcel Silver requirements:


Vault Skills
  • Handspring over a mat stack OR

  • ¼ (90 degrees) to ½ (180 degrees) on, to land on feet facing mat stack


Beam Skills
  • At least 180-degree turn on one foot

  • A jump or leap reaching a 90 degrees angle – straddle jump is an example

  • A non-flight acro skill – cartwheel, for example

  • A dismount – like a roundoff off the beam


Floor Skills
  • At least two directly connected acro skills where one must have flight – for example, roundoff–back handspring

  • A second pass of two directly connected acro skills, or one acro skill with flight – a roundoff backward roll or front handspring

  • A dance passage with two leaps, where one is a leap with a 90-degree cross or side split – directly or indirectly connected

  • At least a 360-degree turn on one foot


Bar Skills
  • At least 5 "A" valued skills

  • One cast min 45 degrees below horizontal

  • A circling skill – neither the mount nor dismount

  • A dismount


Gold

Gymnasts must master the required skills and ensure that their routine fulfills stipulated requirements to compete in the Xcel Gold Division. They can compete without mastering all the required skills, but their marks will be deducted for each requirement that they fail to meet.


Here are the Xcel Gold requirements:


Vault Skills
  • A minimum of a front handspring vault


Beam Skills
  • At least a 360-degree turn on one foot

  • Two different dance skills – either isolated or in a series

  • A jump or leap with a 120-degree split

  • Two acro skills where one achieves or goes through vertical

  • A dismount


Floor Skills
  • At least two directly connected acro flight skills

  • An aerial, Salto, or 2 directly connected acro skills with flight

  • A dance passage with two skills where one is a leap with a 120-degree cross or side split – directly or indirectly connected

  • A minimum of 360-degree turn on one foot


Bar Skills
  • A minimum of 6 skills valued "A"

  • A clear support skill finishing at horizontal or above – an example is a cast to horizontal skill

  • One circling skill that is not a mount or dismount

  • A dismount from the high bar


Platinum

Only gymnasts who master the required skills and ensure that their routine fulfills stipulated requirements are eligible to compete in the Xcel Platinum Division. Although gymnasts can compete without mastering all the required gymnastics skills, their marks are deducted for each requirement that they fail to meet.


The Xcel Platinum requirements are as follows:


Vault Skills
  • Front handspring vault


Beam Skills
  • 1 "B" skill and 6 "A" skills

  • At least 360-degree turn on one foot

  • Dance series with 2 skills - same or different

  • One jump or leap reaching 150 degree

  • One acro flight skill or a non-flight acro series


Floor Skills
  • 6 "A" skills and 1 "B" skill

  • At least 2 directly connected acro series where one must be a flight skill and the other a "B" or "A" salto

  • A "B" Salto or a second pass of 2 directly connected acro skills with a flight

  • A dance passage with two skills where one must be a leap with a 150-degree cross or side split – directly or indirectly connected

  • At least a 360-degree turn on one foot


Bar Skills
  • 6 "A" skills and 1 "B" skill

  • A clear support skill finishing above horizontal

  • A circling skill that is neither mount nor dismount

  • A kip

  • A dismount from the high bar


Diamond

This level can be compared to a Level 7 or 8 in the JO Gymnastics Program. Gymnasts must master the required skills and ensure that their routine meets the outlined requirements to compete in the Xcel Diamond Division. Some gymnasts compete without mastering all the required skills but their marks will be deducted for each requirement that they fail to meet.


The Xcel Diamond requirements are as follows:


Vault Skills
  • Front handspring vault


Beam Skills
  • 2 "B" and 5 "A" valued skills

  • At least 360-degree turn on one foot

  • Dance series with 2 skills

  • A jump or leap that reaches a 150-degree angle: this may be included in the dance series

  • One isolated acro flight skill AND an acro series with or without flight

  • Aerial or Salto dismount


Floor Skills
  • 2 "B" and 5 "A" valued skills

  • 2 separate acro connections, each with at least 2 directly connected acro flight elements

  • 2 different Saltos in which one must be a "B" valued skill

  • A dance passage with at least 2 different leaps, jumps, or hops, where one must be a leap with 150 degrees cross or side split – directly or indirectly connected

  • At least a "B" turn on one foot: an example is a 540-degree turn


Bar Skills
  • 5 "A" and 2 "B" valued skills

  • Clear support skill finishing at least 45 degrees from vertical

  • A "B" valued circling skill

  • A second different circling skill valued "B": a release or a pirouette

  • A Hecht or Salto dismount from the high bar.



What are the Differences Between the Xcel and the Junior Olympics (JO) Gymnastics Programs?

The Xcel Program is quite different from the JO Program, even though they are both gymnastics programs.


  • The major difference between the two is the number of levels. While the JO Program has 10 gymnastics levels, the Xcel Program only has 5.


  • Also, all the levels in the Xcel Program are optional, while only levels 8-10 are optional in the JO Program.


  • The Xcel Program was created as a leisure program that allowed gymnasts to learn their skills at their own pace, unlike the rigorous training of the JO Program.


However, the Xcel Program is not ideal for a gymnast aiming for the Olympics, NCAA Tournaments, or Elite Gymnastics due to its reduced discipline and optional competition rules.


The Bottom Line

The Xcel Gymnastics Program is an alternate gymnastics program that was created with less rigid rules and skill requirements, compared to the JO Program.


Depending on your goal for your child, your child's preferences, and the resources available to you, you should carefully consider which program you want to enroll your child in. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions!


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