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What is the German Bundesliga System?

When the 2019 World Gymnastics Championships came to a close on October 13th in Stuttgart, Germany the competition season for the German team didn’t end. A little over a month later on November 30th was the Bundesliga Finale, just outside of Stuttgart in Ludwigsburg. The first thing you need to know is that the German gymnasts compete under two different systems: The German Gymnastics Federation and the German Gymnastics League. The German Federation is responsible for choosing athletes to compete in international events, but the German Gymnastics League is the one responsible for managing the Bundesliga system. This article will provide insight into the men’s gymnastics Bundesliga system.

What is the German Bundesliga system?

The German Bundesliga (literally translated as Federal League) is a system where professional and semi-professional athletes compete in various sports including: gymnastics, soccer, ice hockey, and basketball, among others. It’s important to note that though they all use the term, Bundesliga, the systems are not interrelated.  The German gymnastics Bundesliga system, currently referred to as the Deutsche Turnliga, was created in 1968 with eight teams. However, the women’s gymnastics league was not created until 2008.

How many gymnastics leagues are there in the Bundesliga system? 

There are 11 leagues. There is one 1st league, two 2nd leagues, two 3rd leagues, and a handful of other regional leagues. They could be compared by level to DI, DII, DIII, and Club Sport teams in the United States, accordingly.

Have any Americans competed in the Bundesliga system? 

Yes! Alex Bubnov, Matt Felleman, Kanji Oyama, Michael Reid, and Colin van Wicklen just to name a few.

Why do gymnasts from other countries compete in the German system?

Unlike the United States, Germany has a professional and semi-professional league that allows gymnasts to be paid.  The German system requires a tactic beyond creating line-ups each week that increases the intensity of the sport. Gymnasts from all over the world including: Oleg Verniaev, Sam Oldham, Bram Verhofstad, Courtney Tulloch, Artur Dalaloyan, and Nikita Nagornyy have all competed for the German Bundesliga.

Is there a roster cap? 

A maximum of 15 gymnasts can compete for each team.

What is the format of the competition?

Similar to the NCAA format, teams go head-to-head in a dual-meet format. In the Bundesliga, teams flip a coin to decide who goes first. On each of the apparatuses only four gymnasts compete for each team. Of those four, there must always be more German gymnasts in a rotations than foreign gymnasts; therefore, only one foreign gymnast is allowed to compete per apparatus.

Duel 1: A1 vs. B1
Duel 2: A2 vs. B2
Duel 3: B3 vs. A3
Duel 4 B4 vs. A4

The teams rotate in Olympic order and no gymnast may be used twice on the same apparatus. Unlike the NCAA or other elite meets, there is no set lineup, therefore creating a need for strategy. Every decision for which gymnast will compete is made mere seconds before they actually compete. These head-to-head battles are referred to as duels. The question is, do you use your best gymnast first, or do you save them in case your opponent saves their best gymnast for last?

For simplicity sake, the format of the competition will be explained using team TSV Pfuhl and team TG Saar. If TSV Pfuhl won the toss, they would send up a gymnast to compete on floor first. Next, TG Saar would choose a gymnast to match. In the second round of the first apparatus, TSV Pfuhl would again choose a gymnast first and then TG Saar would choose gymnast to match.

Halfway through the round, the order switches. After two gymnasts, then TG Saar would choose the 3rd gymnast on floor and then TSV Pfuhl would need to choose an opponent. And again for the fourth duel, TG Saar would choose first with TSV Pfuhl choosing the final opponent.

The team order throughout the competition is as follows: Floor: Team A; Pommel Horse: Team B; Rings: Team A; Vault: Team B; P Bars: Team A; and High Bar: Team B.

Less than .15 = 0 points
From 0.15 to .25 = 1 point
From 0.30 to .50 = 2 points
From 0.55 to 1.0 = 3 points
From 1.05 to 2.0 = 4 points
From 2.05 to 6.0 = 5 points
More than 6.05 = 10 points

What scoring system do they use? 

For individual scores, they use the FIG scoring system; however these scores in their original format are not used to tally a team score. Since 2004, a point system was introduced to create an overall team score. The score for the team is generated by the head-to-head duel match between two gymnasts. There are a total of 10 points up for grabs. The scores are calculated by the difference in the FIG scores per duel.

The 10 points available are not split between the two teams. It’s a “winner-take-all” system where the amount given to the winner is solely determined on the difference in scores between the winner and loser of the duel.

How are teams ranked within the league? 

Teams are ranked by their overall scores totaled throughout the season.

Are the Bundesliga gymnasts paid? 

Yes, gymnasts are paid to compete in the Bundesliga system. In some instances, the top gymnasts can earn as much as $30,000 for the season. Additionally, their travel and housing expenses are also provided for them.

How can I participate? 

If you are interested in participating in the German Bundesliga, you can contact to receive more information.

When was the Final and how can I watch? 

The 2019 final was on November 30th in Ludwigsburg. The competition can be found at

Interested in learning more about the German Bundesliga? Check out their website at


Article by: Kensley Behel


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4 years ago

Thank you Kelsey! I\’ve lived in Germany for a long time and I have never really understood how it works until now! 😀

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