The starting value is the highest possible score a gymnast could receive if a routine is done perfectly. In compulsory levels, this is super simple. Each gymnast will have a starting value of 10.0. However, Optional and Xcel levels become more challenging to understand.
Optional and Xcel Levels
In these levels where each gymnast’s routine is unique to her, her starting value may vary from other gymnasts. Each event has specified requirements for each level. For example, in level eight on beam a gymnast must include an acro series (two or more elements that are connected and have flight). If she does not have this in her beam routine (or simply does not make the connection during competition) her start value will be lower than 10.0 because she is missing a requirement.
Each requirement is given a certain value (for instance, .3). Therefore, if a gymnast does not complete a .3 value requirement, then her start value will be lowered .3 from 10.0 to 9.7.