In any competition, the competitor performs a compulsory routine, which is the same for anyone in the age group, followed by a voluntary routine which the coach and competitor construct together to exploit the competitor’s best skills. Compulsory routines are progressively harder for the older age groups, and for each higher Grade. In all competitions, there are awards for individuals, and for teams.  Teams consist of a minimum of three or maximum of four competitors with the top three scores from the compulsory and the top three scores from the voluntary counting. 

Some competitions also have a final for the top 8 or the top 2/3rd’s of competitors (if less than 10 in a competition) and sometimes scores start from 0 for the final.  In the final a competitor competes their voluntary routine.

Novice competitions with very simple compulsory routines, identified as Grades I and H start at local club or county events. The National competitive development structure commences with Grade G-D, which is held at regional level (at Gillingham in the SE region).  National level is from C-A and competitions are held throughout the UK.  Competitors commence their careers at Grade I, and must achieve certain minimum scores in order to compete at the following grades. This ‘qualifying score’ principle continues right through the structure, to the National Championships.  There are “leapfrog” scores, which if obtained at the lower grades means a competitor can leapfrog a grade.

There are five judges who mark the ‘form' of a routine, by deducting marks for poor performance. Each skill in a routine is given a starting mark of one point (so the full routine is worth a maximum of ten points). Form judges deduct from 0.0 to 0.5 from the base mark of each skill. In practice, deductions of 0.0 to 0.2 are very good, from 0.3 to 0.4 mediocre, and 0.5 indicates a skill that only just survived! The judges total their deductions and take them from the base mark of 10; they then display the net score eg- 7.5,  or 8.2, or 6.9, for example.

The five scores are recorded, and then the highest and lowest marks are cancelled. The three remaining marks are totalled to give the competitor's form score.

In a voluntary routine, one more judge marks the difficulty, or ‘tariff', of the routine. (Often two judges work together, to check each other, but only one difficulty score is shown.) This difficulty score is added to the competitor's form score.

In the lower grades (I-G) there is no tariff difficulty given, as it is focussed on form.