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New (& Newer) Judges

What to expect at your first meet

When preparing for your first meet you will need to arrive at the scheduled report time listed on the Meet Information Sheet. If you are unfamiliar with the area you are driving in make sure to leave early. Be dressed in your uniform or themed attire.

Come prepared to judge (see what every judge needs in their judging bag), study the night before and know your deductions, practice judge on‐line, and get a good night’s rest.

Once at the meet site you will be meeting with the rest of the judges in the judge’s room.  This is where you will have the opportunity to judge with your head judge on sample routines.  This will help you feel more confident on the floor of the meet. This will also give you time to ask your head judge any questions.  Be open to conversations about technique, deductions and be ready to learn your shorthand.

If you have questions during the meet you will have to wait until you are between gymnasts to ask your head judge.  Do not talk to your head judge during the routines.  Do not share thoughts on the routine or talk to the helpers that sit between you and your head judge about the gymnasts.  Your first meet is a good time to watch, listen, and learn from your head judge and fellow Iowa Judges.

Practice Judging

Practice judging plays a pivotal role in your judging experience.  It is an ideal way to get a feel for what you will face at a meet without actually being a responsible party.  It will ease your transition into “real judge” by taking a little of the mystery out of the situation while you familiarize yourself with the workings during a meet.  In addition, you are also eligible to receive a $100 credit from Iowa NAWGJ toward the purchase of your official uniform.

Practice judging must be at a level equal to or higher than your current rating for a minimum of 3 hours and be verified by the supervising judge. Practice judging will require pre-approval from Iowa’s NAWGJ State Judging Director. For pre‐approval, simply send an e‐mail to the SJD requesting permission. Please note that practice judging will also require pre-approval from the Meet Director. This may be done by contacting the Meet Referee for the event and not by contacting the Meet Director directly. The practice judge should come prepared with all judging materials and wear the appropriate judging uniform or themed attire. Video practice judging will be recorded in hours and requires written verification from the supervising judge.

How do I get assigned to meets?

Usually in early October the list of competitions that will be hosted in the state of Iowa is released. The State Judging Director (SJD) will then ask you to go to this link: and click on the Judge Assigning System button. Log in: if your new to Iowa follow the "New user.... register here" link. Provide your USA Gymnastics Professional Number and a login id and password. After that you're ready to log in.

Once you're into the system, please take a moment to go to the 'Update your info' page and verify your information, including providing your expiration dates. This information will automatically be pulled into your generated contracts so if you don't update the information your contract will be incorrect. Once all the information has been "primed in the system" you will see a map of all our judges, be able to update your availability, and see other pages that will hold detailed meet information and the season schedule. 

When you provide your availability, make sure to check the checkbox (it should then go green) for each day on the calendar that you are available. If you are available for both Saturday and Sunday, you need to check both. After you have filled in your availability you MUST hit submit for the information to be saved. You can also indicate your meet preferences, though there is no guarantee that you will be assigned to it due to the needs of balancing the right levels of judges, requested judges and other factors. But where possible, it will be considered. The map of judges is there to provide with helpful information to form carpools. All judges are expected to follow the R&P guidelines about carpools. 

When it's time for you to submit a contract for a meet, click the Contracts button on your Welcome Page, select the meet, and push the submit button at the top of the page and a contract will be automatically generated and emailed for you. Your copy of the contract will show up in your email. If you don't initially see it, look in the spam box for something from

The assigners will try to complete all judging assignments as early as possible in the competition season.

Meet Payment and Reimbursement

Judges are usually paid at the end of a competition. Judges are paid an hourly wage based on rating. In addition, you will be reimbursed for mileage to and from the meet site. You will need to show a copy of MapQuest or similar document that shows your total miles. The host gymnastics club many times provides meals. However, some clubs choose to pay per diem for meals.  Your Meet Referee will let you know total hours each day for the meet and will double check your pay sheet, but you are responsible for calculating your expenses and fees due.

How Do I Get Reimbursed from Iowa NAWGJ?

Iowa NAWGJ may also reimburse judges for expenses acquired from volunteering for Regional & National competitions and training camps:

  • Travel to/from the site (e.g., mileage, airfare, parking), food, hotel.

Iowa NAWGJ will also reimburse judges for any expenses the judge acquired through purchasing items for Iowa NAWGJ. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Photocopies.

  • Items related to Judges Cup: food, awards, gymnasts’ gifts.

  • Education materials purchased for the advancement of our judges throughout the state.

If you would like to be reimbursed for any expenses, you need to do the following:

  • Complete the NAWGJ Reimbursement Form (found in the “Forms” section of this handbook or website)- provide all the necessary information.

  • Attach the ORIGINAL receipts for all expenses.

  • Attach MapQuest, or Google Maps, driving directions for any mileage reimbursement.

  • Make copies for yourself of all materials: the reimbursement form, receipts, driving directions.

  • Send all materials to the SJD via email.

A check will be sent to you within 2 weeks reimbursing you for those expenses.

Tax Reporting Information

What’s in my Bag?

Being prepared is of course directly related to your work as a gymnastics official.  Besides the pr‐meet preparation, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary materials with you.  This starts with selecting a good, durable judging bag, something that will hold everything but not be overly large.  The fewer items you have to carry the better.  Below are some suggestions for what to have in your judging bag.  

  1. Membership cards or a device to look them up

  2. Technical Information – keep these updated!!!!

    • Compulsory code of points

    • Compulsory and Optional cheat sheets

    • Optional code of points

    • XCel code of points

    • USAG Rules and Policies

  3. Judging tools:

    • Notebook/paper/judging forms to notate the routines or a device with a notes app

    • Neutral Deduction flasher

    • Start Value flasher for Optionals & XCel

    • Pencils, pens, highliter etc.

  4. Personal Folder (much of this can be stored online, but if you like to keep paper copies)

    • Contracts

    • Calendar listing your assignments

    • Contact Information (phone #s etc of clubs, judges, etc)

    • Notecard listing all of your professional numbers and renewals dates (NAWGJ and USAG memberships, Safety certification, background check).   Also list your hourly fee and the current mileage rate.  This information will assist you in filling out the Judges Expense Voucher and the Sanction Report Form at meets.

    • CPE card

  5. Personal Items such as Tylenol, hand lotion, comb/brush, lipstick, hairspray etc.

Cell phones may be carried in your bag, but should be silenced or turned off during the meet!!

Iowa Mentor Program

Newer judges (to judging or to our state) will be welcomed by board members and other Level 10 or National rated judges. We have a “friendly faces” policy and seek to be welcoming to all new or newer judges. During a judge’s 1st year of judging in our state, (s)he will be assigned a contact person on the board as a mentor. The mentor will reach out at the beginning of the season to introduce herself to the new judge. Each Iowa judge will be welcoming and reach out to the new/newer judge when (s)he is assigned to a meet with him/her.

We will continue to offer base score opportunities for panels at local competitions, in addition to the required base score at State and above. It is encouraged to not only go over deductions, etc prior to judging on the floor, but to judge a routine or two with your panel.

All Iowa State Judging Board Members email addresses are available to the public on our website. We are willing to answer any questions you have, or help you find the answer.

Our website will be updated and maintained to have up to date information about meets in Iowa and links to the national NAWGJ website. We encourage our members to subscribe to the NAWGJ Mailing List (found at the bottom of the main website) to keep up to date on updates published there.

Additional Memberships/Certifications

Must be current in the following to be contracted by NAWGJ to judge a USAG sanctioned meet

All members

  • NAWGJ Membership

  • USAG Professional Membership or Jr. Professional Membership

  • Safety/Risk Management Certification

  • Current Continuing Professional Education {CPE} requirements

If over 18 years old also:

  • Criminal Background Check

  • U110 Safe Sport Certification

Still Have Questions?

Contact the IA New Judge Liaison or use the Contact Us page.

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