How can scores be so different and change from judge to judge if everyone uses the same criteria?

  • A judge’s exposure to other areas and baton twirlers will influence each judge’s scoring application.
  • In spite of the fact that 2 judges could agree on which range a twirler/group should be scored from, there is a wide range of scores from which to choose within each of the delineated ranges.
  • Where in the range the judge assigns that first score will be influenced by his/her prior scoring to other twirlers or groups in other contests.
  • From that point, the dynamics of the contest (number of athletes/teams, order of appearance and quality of the athletes/teams) will influence subsequent scores.
  • If Judge “A” has already been to 4 competitions and seen dozens of twirlers/groups, he/she will have a different point of reference from Judge “B” who is judging his/her first competition of the season. Judge B likely will be more conservative.
  • Twirlers/groups are wise to consider the ranking (order of placement) as of greater significance than the actual rating (score) for those reasons.


  • In a Prelim contest, the judge’s priority is to advance the deserving individuals/groups to the finals contest.
  • The number of twirlers/teams in a prelim contest are frequently quite large. This will produce a wider range of scoring top to bottom in order to rank all of the soloists/groups.
  • In finals, where the soloists/groups are seeded and where there is not the need to apply the spreads required in prelims, scores will tighten up.
  • Often the finals performance quality will be dramatically different from the prelim performance thus influencing scores.
  • In the case of Regional to Regional, different panels of judges will bring in different exposures to twirlers/groups across the country. (reference points in previous question.)

And by the way……

  • Where in the range a twirler/group falls is really important. If a twirler is at the TOP of a range that gives them the information that they are soon ready to take on those challenges that correspond to the next higher level. At the BOTTOM of the range means that TIME and DEVEOPMENT will be “on their side” as they “reside” in that neighborhood appropriately. This is why the actual number should be viewed POSITIVELY rather than negatively… it’s developmental, not like FAILING a TEST with an “F”.

Lori Perkins

Lori Perkins is a USTA Board Member representing the Central Region, Certified Elite Coach, and Master Judge. She has coached many National Champion athletes, and is the proud mom of a current national champion. She was previously a Louisiana State, Central Regional, and National Solo, 2 Baton, and Strut Champion. Currently, she teaches Algebra I, Geometry, Special Education, and Color Guard in Magnolia, Texas, and coaches/choreographs for Karen Ogden Studio in Louisiana.

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