Women's Gymnastics

Spectator's Guide to Gymnastics

Spectator's Guide

In collegiate team competition, six gymnasts perform on each of the four apparatus. The five best scores are added together to make up the cumulative team total. At least two judges are required to evaluate an athlete's performance. The scores are averaged to arrive at a final mark.

All routines, with the exception of Vault, have a base start value score of 9.5 with the possibility of an additional five-tenths of bonus points awarded for the combination of difficult elements throughout the exercise. Vaults are given a start value, similar to degree of difficulty in diving, based the type and difficulty level of the vault performed.

Vaulting requires speed, quickness and explosive power. Vaults are divided into four categories: handsprings, forward saltos, backward saltos and vaults from a round-off. Deductions are taken for technical errors in the areas of pre-flight (approach to the horse) and after-flight (distance and height) from the horse to point of landing.

Uneven Bars
This exercise must consist of at least 10 elements. At least two elements must be on the low bar. Good composition includes elements showing great amplitude, several bar changes, grip changes and direction changes. Pauses for concentration, intermediate swings and uncharacteristic elements are to be avoided. After a fall, the gymnast must resume the exercise within 30 seconds.

Balance Beam
The beam routine should be composed of elements from the following groups: acrobatic elements with and without flight, strength elements such as turns, leaps, body waves and running steps. Special requirements of this event are an acrobatic series, a gymnastics series, a full turn and a leap. The balance beam is 16 feet long, four feet high and only four inches wide. The entire routine must last between one and one-and-a-half minutes. A bell is rung at the 1:20 mark of the routine. If the gymnast does not complete the routine at the end of one-and-a-half minutes, an overtime penalty of .20 is deducted from the score.

Floor Exercise
The composition of the exercise must show harmony between gymnastics and acrobatic elements, create dynamic changes in rhythm and level and show versatile use of the entire floor area. The exercise must contain three different acrobatic series and must last between one and one-and-a-half minutes.

Gymnastics Glossary

Aerial - a stunt in which the gymnast turns completely over in the air without touching the apparatus with her hands.

Amplitude - the height or degree of execution of a movement.

Arabian Double Front - a double salto forward with a half twist performed before the first flip occurs (half-turn, double-front salto).

Arch Position - the body is curved backwards.

Composition - the structure of a gymnastics routine. Each individual movement or skill is a building block; how they are arranged into an exercise is called the composition of the routine.

Dismount - to leave an apparatus at the end of a routine.

Double Layout - a double back salto performed in the layout position.

Execution - the performance of a routine. Form, style and the technique used to complete skills constitute the level of execution of an exercise. Bent knees, poor toe point and an arched or loosely held body position are all examples of poor execution.

Flic-Flac - also known as a flip-flop or back handspring. Take off one or two feet, jump backward onto hands and land on feet.

Giant - a swing in which the body is fully extended and moving through a 360 degree rotation around the bar.

Handspring - springing off the hands by putting the weight on the arms and using a strong push from the shoulders; can be done either forward or backward; usually a linking movement.

Layout Position - straight or slightly arched body position, may be seen during a movement or a still position.

Pike Position - body bent forward more than 90 degrees at the hips while the legs are kept straight.

Pirouettes - changing direction by twisting in the handstand position.

Release - leaving the bar to perform a move before regrasping it.

Routine - a combination of stunts displaying a full range of skills on one apparatus.

Salto - flip or somersault, with the feet coming up over the head and the body rotating around the axis of the waist.

Tuck - a position in which the knees and hips are bent and drawn into the chest; the body is folded at the waist.

Twist - not to be confused with a salto, a twist occurs when the gymnast rotates around the body’s longitudinal axis, defined by the spine.

Virtuosity - the artistry, or the degree of rhythm and harmony, displayed while a movement is executed. In general, the more flowing and seamless a series of skills appears to be, the greater the virtuosity and the higher the score.

Yurchenko Vault - any vault that is initiated with a roundoff onto the spring board.

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