Honiton Gymnastics

What is the Acrobatic Gymnastics NDP?

The Acrobatic Gymnastics National Development Plan – or NDP for short – is a ‘grades’ system, providing a structure for gymnasts to develop from beginners through to international-level performers.

Great Britain launched the first NDP 1 in the 1970s. Now, 40 years on, acrobatic gymnasts follow NDP 9, which provides a structure for training and for competition.

Grades 1-5 + IDP

NDP Grade 1 mixed pair - HonitonGrade 1 is the first grade that young acrobatic gymnasts experience.  Involving simple partner balances and gymnastic elements, it allows gymnasts to learn the fundamental skills of acrobatic gymnastics.

As gymnasts gradually improve their skills, they can move through the NDP 9 grades system, up to the highest levels of difficult – Grade 5 and IDP (International Development Plan).

Generally, gymnasts perform five partner elements and three individual gymnastic elements, all chosen from their grade in the NDP 9 Code of Points. These moves are incorporated into a routine – choreographed to music – with a maximum length of two minutes.


NDP scoring



NDP grades routines are marked out of a maximum of 30.00, before a bonus tariff (of up to 1.5) is added.  This is broken down into:

  • 20 marks for Technical Execution, which reflect:
    • The quality of the technical performance of an exercise
    • Correctness of lines and shapes
    • Amplitude in execution of elements: full stretch in balance elements and maximum flight of dynamic elements.
    • Stability of static elements
    • Confident, effective catching, pitching and throwing
    • Landing control.

Four technical execution judges hand in their score out of 10.00.  The highest and lowest scores are discarded, then the two middle scores are added together to give the final technical execution mark.

  • 10 marks for Artistry (minimum mark is 5.0), which reflect:
    • The structure, artistic composition and design of a routine
    • The relationship between partners, movement and music
    • Choreography, style, expression and musicality
  • 1.5 marks for Difficulty/Bonus (0.6 & 0.7 for IDP), which reflect the degree of difficulty of the acrobatic elements that partnerships perform.  Providing gymnasts perform all of the required moves in their grade, they will have a difficulty of at least 0.5, up to a maximum of 1.5.

Choosing moves & getting the right difficulty value

BLP_4124The best way to learn acrobatic gymnastics’ skills correctly and continually improve, is to start with basic moves and perfect the technique at each stage.

Each NDP grade includes five rows of moves broken down into:

1-value moves: simpler to perform

2-value moves: medium difficulty to perform

3-value moves: more difficult to perform

Partnerships performing all moves from the simpler row would achieve a difficulty mark of 0.5, but if they performed all moves from the more difficult column their difficulty mark would be 1.5.  A mixture of differing value moves would give a difficulty mark somewhere in between!

As the Technical Execution of moves is the key to a successful competition, it’s better for gymnasts to perform simpler moves well, rather than performing difficult moves with too many errors.


At all levels of acrobatic gymnastics, partnerships can receive penalties by the chair of the judging panel (CJP), which are deducted from their total score.  The main penalties are:

  • 1.0 for missing an element (pair or individual)
  • 0.5 for two feet stepping over the boundry line
  • 0.3 for each missing second of a 3-second partner balance or 2-second individual stand (eg a headstand); performing elements in the wrong order; attire infringements or finishing before or after the music
  • 0.1 for each second over 2-minute limit; attire adjustments; or 1 foot over boundary line

The final score

Buster and Charlotte 1At the end of a routine the Artistry, Technical and Execution scores are added together, minus any penalties to give the final score.

Moving onto the next grade

Top - Faith Symons, handstand -saffy herbert, bridge - emily bristolGymnasts usually move onto the next grade when both they and their partner are fully ready, giving them the best chance to consolidate skills and improve by performing high-quality skills.

Gymnasts often move back down grades when they move from being a top to becoming a base.  This is not a step backwards but an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of something new and different.

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