Artistic gymnastics is a sport that consists of a lot of time, hard work, dedication and commitment. Typically, there are four events that take place in artistic gymnastics and they are: bars, beam, floor, and vault.
Each event is completed by a gymnast that prepares and performs routines. Each routine is under a minute, and if you blink too fast you might miss one! Have you ever watched the Summer Olympics? If you answered yes, than you have definitely seen artistic gymnastics and have seen what awesome things gymnasts can do. I mean come on, USA killed it when it came to gymnastics at Rio!
A gymnast practices anywhere from three to five times a week depending on the level he/she is on. The higher the level a gymnast is on, the more advance he/she is along with the skills being harder to learn.
A gymnast usually practices around four hours during each practice. Sometimes gymnasts even go twice a day! Coaches want to make sure gymnasts have their routines down perfectly so they can be confident and get a high score while competing at meets.
Gymnastics includes a lot of tumbling such as a lot of flips, turns, twists, you name it! Because tumbling can be dangerous if not done with a spotter, proper mats, or correct formation, it is possible for your gymnast to become injured. To prevent injury during practice and meets, coaches take the time to work with gymnasts to make sure they can complete the skills fully.
So, what are each event and what does a gymnast do for that event? Continue to read below to find out!
Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Events
Continuous swings, turns, and releases make up this event for male gymnasts. This event is interesting because it is almost as if the male gymnast is flying in the air!
This event uses mostly core and upper body strength. Using grips and proper formation will definitely help the gymnast complete his routine much smoother and better. Practice as always makes perfect and having a firm grip on the bar can help so the male gymnast does not lose grip and fall.
Hand position is key to this event as well because if the gymnast mixes up where his hand placement should be, then he could get hurt that way as well. Strong wrists are much needed for this!
A lot of swinging elements takes place during this event. A male gymnast is allowed to hold a move or stop only three times during the routine.
A male gymnast has to keep his eyes focused on the bars otherwise it could cause him to make a mistake. The gymnast will be using a lot of upper arm strength. Losing grip off the bars due to not focusing can result in injury or points being taken off during a meet.
This event is completed by the male gymnast continuously moving in circular movements. It is important that the male gymnast has rhythm and only the hands of the gymnast are allowed to touch the actual equipment.
The goal is to stay quick, quiet, and steady. This event calls for a lot of concentration and the gymnast is not allowed to take a second break, pause, or stop at all during the performance. Even if the male gymnast makes a mistake, he has to continue his routine without trying to re-do or correct the mistake.
This event calls for a lot of upper body strength! The male gymnast’s upper body is what is going to be worked the hardest, and the point of this event is to have control of the rings without the gymnast’s arms, hands or body shaking and for the rings to stay still after each skill completed on the rings.
Male gymnasts have to swing and element on the still rings. This event can be difficult for gymnasts because it takes practice and time to get the proper formation. A male gymnast cannot just grab hold of the still rings and perform without much practice because it takes time to have total control on the nerves.
Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Events
This event uses two horizontal bars with one being shorter than the other. Just like the male high bar, a lot of swinging, twisting, turning and releasing makes up this event. Female gymnasts will be using a lot of upper body strength and core strength for this event.
On the higher levels, gymnasts typically perform on the lower bar and end up jumping onto the higher bar. The fact that women gymnasts can even balance on these bars to do such a thing is incredible!
The routine for this event is not allowed to be more than a minute and 30 seconds and it is a MUST that the female gymnast has to perform skills on the entire beam.
The beam is padded and is only about four inches wide! Can you imagine? I know the second I were to get up on a beam I would fall right off! The beam is around 16 feet long and is four feet high off the ground.
The balance beam is composed of leaps, flexibility, dance elements, acrobatics and tumbling. Like every event in artistic gymnastics, the higher the level you are the harder the skills become. It is important that the female gymnast performs with a clear mind because she will have to keep her eyes focused on the bar otherwise it can result in falling off or an injury.
The good thing about the beam is that if the gymnast falls off, she is able to get back on. Yes a few points will be deducted, but the gymnast will still have a chance at scoring high.
Men and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Events
The vault is used in both men and women’s artistic gymnastics. Even though it may seem quite easy to just run down a runway and jump on a springboard, but let me tell you something; the vault is definitely far from easy.
Both male and female gymnasts are required to spring down the runway and jump onto the springboard. The springboard will give the gymnast the power he/she needs to complete a skill off of the vault. A gymnast may twist, perform round-offs or handsprings.
Sticking the landing at the end of the vault can be challenging because the rules are that a gymnast cannot take an extra step after landing. A gymnast will have to practice balance techniques because landing from so much power can be difficult. Concentration is definitely needed for this event because it is by far the quickest one at a meet.
My favorite floor performance that I have ever seen was Laurie Hernandez at the Rio Olympics. If you have not seen her routine, please look it up right now! I have never seen so much confidence, happiness and sass wrapped into one!
That is mentally what floor is about. Confidence, happiness, and sass. The 90-second floor event gives gymnasts a chance to express who they are as a gymnast. Floor routines are performed with music and choreography picked by the gymnast, the coaches or a professional choreographer.
Male gymnasts typically do not use music along with their floor routine, but that does not stop them from showing off their expertise!
The floor routine is made up of dance elements along with tumbling. The floor itself is padded and has springs underneath so the gymnast can build power to perform his/her tumbling skills. The gymnast has to make use of all of the floor space and his/her movements may seem very elegant or graceful. Remember readers, gymnastics is a sport of the arts!
Which Gymnastics Event is the Hardest?
To answer this question, it honestly varies. Every person is made uniquely and each person has different strengths and weaknesses. Maybe a gymnast excels at vault but has a weakness of still rings. Maybe a gymnast is State Champion on beam but has difficulty with uneven bars. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it is whatever is your personal preference!
Please feel free to comment below to give us any feedback, advice, share experiences, or have any questions when it comes to artistic gymnastics events! We are all about building the gymnastics community and would love to hear what you have to say.