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exercises developing or displaying physical agility and coordination.

The modern sport


of gymnastics typically involves exercises on uneven bars, balance beam, floor, and
vaulting horse (for women), and horizontal and parallel bars, rings, floor, and pommel
horse (for men).
other physical or mental agility of a specified kind.
plural noun: gymnastics
"these vocal gymnastics make the music unforgettable"

What is gymnastics?

Gymnastics is a sport, in which athletes (called gymnasts), perform


acrobatic feats -- leaps, flips, turns, handstands, and more -- on a
piece of apparatus, such as a balance beam, or with a piece of
apparatus, like a rope or ribbon.
The formal definition of gymnastics, according to Oxford Dictionaries,
is "Exercises developing or displaying physical agility and
coordination. The modern sport of gymnastics typically involves
exercises on uneven bars, balance beam, floor, and vaulting horse (for
women), and horizontal and parallel bars, rings, floor, and pommel
horse (for men)."

What are the different types of gymnastics?

There are three types of gymnastics currently in the Olympics: artistic


gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline. Artistic gymnastics
is the most commonly known type. Men and women both compete, on
equipment like the uneven bars, parallel bars, and rings. (Read more
on w

Types Of Competitive Gymnastics


Rhythmic gymnastics is probably the second best-known. In rhythmic,
gymnasts all compete on the same floor mat, but use ribbons, ropes,
hoops, and other equipment as part of their routines. (Get more info
on rhythmic gymnastics.)

Trampoline was named an Olympic discipline of gymnastics for the


2000 Olympics. Gymnasts perform routines on a trampoline,
completing flips on every single bounce. (More on trampoline.)
Other types of gymnastics not currently on the Olympic roster include
tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics, and group gymnastics. (Get more info
ontumbling, acrobatic, and group.)

What are the gymnastics events?


When people ask this they are usually referring to artistic gymnastics
apparatus. For women, this includes the vault, uneven bars, balance
beam, and floor exercise. (More on women's gymnastics events.) For
men, it's floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars,
and high bar. (More on men's gymnastics events.)

When did gymnastics become a sport?


Gymnastics can trace its roots all the way back to the ancient Greeks,
and has been included in the Olympics since the first modern Games
in 1896. The earliest Olympic competitions most closely align with
today's men'sartistic gymnastics: all participants were male, and
competed on events like parallel bars and high bar, though the rope
climb was an event then (and is no longer one). Find out much more
about gymnastics history.

Which are the best gymnastics teams?


In artistic gymnastics, the Soviet Union and Japan (on the men's side)
dominated the second half of the 20th century. More recently, the
United States, Russia, China, Romania, and Japan have been the top
teams in artistic gymnastics. In rhythmic gymnastics, Russia, and

other former Soviet countries like Belarus and Ukraine, have won the
most Olympic medals.
The youngest Olympic discipline, trampoline, has had a diverse group
of Olympic medalists, from Russia to China and Canada. (See all of
the Olympic medalists in gymnastics.)

Which are the biggest gymnastics competitions?


The Olympics is the ultimate gymnastics meet, and many young
gymnasts set their sights on making the Olympic gymnastics team.
The Olympics are held every four years, and artistic gymnastics teams
now have five members, starting at the 2012 Games in London. (The
teams used to have six members through the 2008 Games, and had
seven through the 1996 Games).
World Championships are the second biggest competition in
gymnastics, and in recent years have been held every non-Olympic
year. (In the '90s, there were two worlds in 1994, one for teams and
one for individuals, as well as a worlds in 1996, the Olympic year.
Worlds has sometimes been held every two years, too.)
Other major competitions include the European Championships, the
Asian Games, the Pan American Games, and World Cup meets.

In rhythmic gymnastics the athletes


perform with equipment instead of on
equipment. Gymnasts perform jumps,
tosses, leaps and other moves with different

types of apparatus, and are judged much


more on their grace, dance ability and
coordination than their power or tumbling
prowess.
Rhythmic gymnastics was added as an
Olympic sport in 1984, and competition was
held in the individual all-around. In 1996,
group competition was added. Participants
are female, and must be at least 16 years
old by the end of the Olympic year in order
to compete.
Top rhythmic gymnasts must have many
qualities: balance, flexibility, coordination
and strength are some of the most
important. They also must possess the
ability to compete under intense pressure.

The Competition
Olympic competition consists of:

Individual All-Around: An athlete


competes on four of the five events (every
two years, one apparatus is rotated out for
that time period) and the total score is
added.

Group: Five gymnasts compete two


different routines. In one routine, all of the
athletes use the same piece of apparatus.
In the second routine, the gymnasts use
two different pieces of equipment (e.g. three
gymnasts will use ball and two gymnasts
will use hoop). One score is given for each
routine, and the two are combined for a
total score in the group all-around.

Equipment
Rhythmic gymnasts compete with five
different types of apparatus: rope, hoop,
ball, clubs and ribbon.

Gold, Silver and Bronze


The top 20 gymnasts from the 2007 World
Championships qualified to the Olympics,
with a maximum of two gymnasts per
country. Four additional women qualified as
wild cards to ensure representation by the
host country and all of the continents. For
group competition, the top 10 groups from
the 2007 Worlds qualified, with two
additional wild cards.

The individual rhythmic competition at the


Olympics consists of two days of
preliminary competition (all 24 qualifiers
compete). The athletes compete with two
apparatus each day, and the top 10 scorers
from the four apparatus advance to the allaround final. All 10 gymnasts start from a
clean slate in the final, and the medalists
are awarded based on the top three scorers
of the four apparatus performed that day.
In the group competition, each group
performs two routines and the eight groups
with the highest score total advance to the
final. In the final, all groups start from zero
and medals are awarded to the top three
groups that day.
Find out about rhythmic gymnastics rules

and judging
Go to the Olympic gymnastics main page

Related

Rhythmic Gymnastics 101


The 7 Types of Gymnastics
The Basics of Women's Gymnastics
All-Around

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The major difference between men's gymnastics and women's
gymnastics is in the events, or gymnastics apparatus, on which the
gymnasts compete. They only share two events in common: vault and
floor.
Female gymnasts compete on four events total: vault, uneven
bars, balance beam, and floor exercise.
Males compete on six events, and compete the events in a different
order: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar.

The Differences on Floor Exercise

Both male and female gymnasts compete on the same floor exercise
mat, but the women compete to music, while the men do not. There
are other rule variations as well. In general, dance moves such as
leaps and jumps are part of the requirements and scoring on women's
floor but not on men's, and men are required to do more tumbling
skills overall. Men typically perform harder tumbling passes. Women
used to be able to perform a lunge at the end of a tumbling pass, but
as of the 2012 Code of Points, women are now required
to stick tumbling passes.

Men have always been required to do this.

The Differences on Vault


Women and men both perform on the
same vaulting table, though the men usually
have the table at a higher height than the
women. The vaults performed are similar as
well -- in general, men perform more difficult
vaults than women. The top male vaulters
often perform double-flipping vaults, such
as the handspring double front and

Tsukahara double-back. Very few women


have attempted these, even in training.
The men and women used to compete on
a vaulting horse -- and men vaulted over it
lengthwise while women vaulted widthwise
-- but the horse was replaced by the table in
2001, mostly for safety reasons. The table
is considered a safer alternative to the
horse, with less chance that the gymnast
will miss the table (especially
during Yurchenko vaults) and suffer a
severe injury.

Uneven Bars vs. Parallel Bars vs. High


Bar
The uneven bars (a women's event) and
parallel bars and high bar (men's events)
are all different from each other as well. The

uneven bars and parallel bars are usually


made out of fiberglass and are bigger in
diameter, while the high bar is made out of
metal and is smaller in diameter.
(Therefore, gymnasts' hand grips are
different for the different type of bars, and
it's dangerous to use the wrong type of
grip.)
The bars are also set up differently. The
high bar is a single bar about 9 ft. from the
floor. The uneven bars are two sets of bars,
that run about 6 ft. apart from each other
and stand at about 5 and a 1/2 ft. and 8 ft.
high. Finally, the parallel bars are two bars
that are only about a foot and a half apart,
and about 6 and a 1/2 ft. off the floor. (All
heights are adjustable, though some are
standardized in Olympic competition.)

The Competition Format of Men's and


Women's Gymnastics
Both men's gymnastics and women's
gymnastics (technically called men's artistic
gymnastics and women's artistic
gymnastics) have the same basic
competition formats in the Olympics. In
2012, five gymnasts were on a team, with
four gymnasts competing on each event in
preliminaries and three gymnasts
competing on each event in finals.
Gymnasts qualify into the individual allaround and event finals based on their
qualifying scores, and 24 gymnasts make
the all-around, eight into each individual
event. Only two per country can qualify into
each specific final however. All of these

rules are standard across men's and


women's competition.
Mens artistic gymnastics (often shortened to simply mens
gymnastics), is the oldest form of gymnastics, and a popular Olympic
sport. Men have competed in gymnastics since the 1896 Athens
Olympics, though it often featured track and field events along with the
traditional mens apparatus.
Similar to womens artistic gymnastics, athletes must be at least 16
years old by the end of the Olympic year in order to compete. Male
gymnasts are often older than their female counterparts, however,
since the mens events require strength that is sometimes difficult to
develop until after puberty.
Top male gymnasts must have many qualities: strength, air sense,
power, balance, and flexibility are some of the most important. They
must also have psychological attributes such as the ability to compete
under pressure and the courage to attempt risky tricks.

Men's Gymnastics Events & Equipment


Male artistic gymnasts compete on six pieces of equipment:

Floor Exercise: The gymnast performs a routine no longer than


70 seconds, usually consisting of 4 or 5 tumbling passes, a balance
element or strength move, and sometimes circles and flairs similar to
those seen on the pommel horse. The floor mat is 40 ft. by 40 ft. and
is usually made of carpeting over padded foam and springs.

Pommel Horse: The gymnast swings around the pommel horse


on his hands, without letting any other part of his body touch the horse
and without stopping during the routine. He uses the whole length of
the horse, and performs circles, flairs, scissors, moves up to
handstand and back down, and a dismount.

Still Rings: The gymnast completes swinging moves,


handstands, strength moves, and a dismount on rings suspended
approximately 9 ft. from the ground. Unlike the pommel horse, a
gymnast must stop and hold his strength moves for at least two
seconds. During this time, the rings should be as still as possible.

Vault: The gymnast runs down a runway, hurdles onto a


springboard, and is propelled over a vaulting table about 4 feet off
the ground.

Parallel Bars: The gymnast performs swings, release moves,


pirouettes, and a dismount using two horizontal bars set at the same
height. The bars are about 6.4 ft. from the floor and made of wood or
plastic.

High Bar: The gymnast performs pirouettes, high-flying release


moves, swings, and a dismount on a single bar, 9 ft. off the floor. The
bar is smaller in diameter than the parallel bars, and is made of metal.

Men's Gymnastics Competitions


Olympic competition consists of:

Preliminaries/Qualifications: All individual athletes and teams


compete. The scores from this one competition determine who
qualifies to team finals, all-around finals and individual event finals.
Those trying to qualify as a team put up four athletes on each event,
and three of those scores count. There are five total athletes on each
team. Teams that score in the top eight qualify to team finals.
Also during preliminaries, the top 24 athletes in the all-around (the
total of all six events) qualify to all-around finals. No more than two
gymnasts from each country may qualify, however. This leaves
athletes on strong teams such as China and Japan competing with
their own teammates in preliminaries in an effort to become the
number one or two all-arounder on the team.
Finally, the top eight scorers on every apparatus during preliminaries
qualify to the individual event finals. Again, only two gymnasts are
allowed per team.

Team Finals: Team finals are the next competition following


preliminaries. Though the scores from preliminaries are erased at this
point, the teams are seeded. The top two teams compete in the same
rotation; ranks three and four compete together; and so on. The top
two teams get to compete in the Olympic order of events (floor,
pommels, rings, vault, parallel bars, high bar), generally considered
the ideal progression to compete.
Each team puts up three of their five athletes on every event, and
every score counts. Since only the scores from this final round are
used when deciding the team medals, this meet is a real pressure-

cooker. Even if a gymnast has a disastrous routine or is injured and


unable to finish, the score is counted in the final result, and can take a
team completely out of the medals.

Individual All-Around Finals: The all-around final competition


comes after team finals, usually two days later. Each of the 24
qualifiers from preliminaries competes on all six events. Though the
scores from preliminaries are wiped clean, the athletes are again
seeded. The top six compete together in one group; slots 7-12
compete in another group; and so forth. Like team finals, the top group
has the advantage of competing in the Olympic order.

Individual Event Finals: Finally, an event champion is named


on each apparatus. The top eight scorers from preliminaries all
compete that one event, and the top score of that day gets the gold.
(Again, no scores are carried over from preliminaries). There is no
seeding in event finals. The order in which the athletes compete is a
random draw. In the Olympics, tie scores are broken as well.
Womens artistic gymnastics (often shortened to simply womens
gymnastics), is one of the most popular Olympic sports. As the name
states, it has all-female participants, and gymnasts must be at least 16
years old by the end of the Olympic year in order to compete.
Top female gymnasts must have many different attributes: strength,
balance, flexibility, air sense, and grace are some of the most
important. They also must have the courage to attempt difficult tricks
and to compete under intense pressure.

Women's Gymnastics Events & Equipment

Female artistic gymnasts compete on four pieces of equipment:

Vault: The gymnast runs down a runway, jumps onto a


springboard, and is propelled over a vaulting table about 4 feet off
the ground.

Uneven Bars: The gymnast performs swings, release moves,


pirouettes, and a dismount using two horizontal bars set at different
heights. The lower bar is usually about 5 ft. off the ground, and the
high bar is about 8 ft. from the floor.

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Balance Beam: The gymnast completes a choreographed


routine with a mount, leaps, jumps, flips, turns, and a dismount on a
padded, wooden beam approximately 4 ft. high. The exercise may not
be longer than 90 seconds.

Floor Exercise: The gymnast performs a choreographed routine


to music of her choice. The routine usually consists of 4 or 5 tumbling

passes, as well as leaps, jumps and dance moves, and cannot be


longer than 90 seconds. The floor mat is 40 ft. by 40 ft. and is usually
made of carpeting over padded foam and springs.

Olympic Competition

Preliminaries/Qualifications: All individual athletes and teams


compete. The scores from this one competition determine who
qualifies to team finals, all-around finals and individual event finals.
Those trying to qualify as a team put up four athletes on each event,
and three of those scores count. There are five total athletes on each
team. Teams that score in the top eight qualify to team finals.
Also during preliminaries, the top 24 gymnasts in the all-around (the
total of all four events) qualify to all-around finals. No more than two
gymnasts from each country may qualify, however, in a controversial
"two-per-country" rule. This leaves athletes on strong teams such as
the United States and Russia competing with their own teammates in
preliminaries in an effort to become the number one or two allarounder on the team. (In 2012, the reigning world champion, Jordyn
Wieber, didn't qualify to the all-around finals because two of her
teammates scored higher than her in preliminaries -- despite having
the fourth best overall score in the rankings.)
Finally, the top eight scorers on every apparatus during preliminaries
qualify to the individual event finals. Again, only two gymnasts are

allowed per team.

Team Finals: Team finals are the next competition following


preliminaries. Though the scores from preliminaries are erased at this
point, the teams are seeded. The top two teams compete in the same
rotation; ranks three and four compete together; and so on. The top
two teams get to compete in the Olympic order of events (vault, bars,
beam, floor), generally considered the best progression to compete.
Each team puts up three of its six athletes on every event, and every
score counts. Since only the scores from this final round are used
when deciding the team medals, this meet is a real pressure-cooker.
Even a low score is counted in the final result, and a major mistake
can take a team completely out of the medals.

Individual All-Around Finals: The all-around final competition


comes after team finals. Each of the 24 qualifiers from preliminaries
competes on all four events. Though the scores from prelims are
wiped clean, the athletes are again seeded. The top six compete
together in one group; slots 7-12 compete in another group; and so
forth. Like team finals, the top group has the advantage of competing
in Olympic order.

Individual Event Finals: Finally, an event champion is named


on each apparatus. The top eight scorers from preliminaries all
compete that one event, and the top score of that day gets the gold.
(Again, no scores are carried over from preliminaries). There is no
seeding in event finals. The order in which the athletes compete is a
random draw, and tie scores are broken at the Olympics.

Find out about womens gymnastics rules and judging, and what to
watch as a spectator
Men's gymnastics basics

Related

Olympic Gymnastics: The Basics of Men's Artistic Gymnastics


Current Female Artistic Gymnasts to Watch
The 7 Types of Gymnastics
Olympic Gymnastics: The Basics of Rhythmic Gymnastics

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