What is AAU Gymnastics

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what is aau gymnastics

AAU Gymnastics is an amateur gymnastics organization in the United States. The acronym AAU stands for Amateur Athletic Union, and it is a separate and different league from USA Gymnastics. Typically, gymnasts will not participate in both organizations; they will choose to be in one or the other in a given year.

Gymnastics is an entertaining sport that involves a lot of discipline, dedication to the craft, and remarkable skills. Whether you’re just starting or practicing and want to go to the next stage, you need the proper knowledge.

AAU gymnastics is a bit different from the United States Association of Gymnastics. Learn about the differences between these programs and which is best for your chosen path. 

What is the Difference Between AAU Gymnastics and USA Gymnastics?

For starters, USA Gymnastics is the established governing body for competitive gymnastics in the United States. For this reason, usually, when competitive gymnastics rules and regulations are being discussed or employed, USA Gymnastics established them

Conversely, the AAU Gymnastics objective is to give athletes a space to compete. Not only does the organization do that, but it also offers gymnasts tools and lessons that will aid them throughout their lives.

USA Gymnastics’ focus is more singular; the organization wishes to train exceptional gymnasts. Furthermore, its ultimate responsibility is to train and select the US Gymnastics team for the World Championships and the Olympics

Consequently, the rules governing AAU are less strict and designed to be more light-hearted and fun. Scores at AAU meets are usually higher, and the competitive atmosphere is more relaxed.

Amateur Competition

AAU gymnasts do not in any way compete at the professional level. That means they cannot be compensated financially or have any other benefits that a professional gymnast can access.

On another note, USA Gymnastics, as an organization, offers professional membership to qualified competitive coaches, meet directors, and judges. 


Although USAG and AAU require their gymnasts have memberships to compete in their events, the benefits of the memberships are different. 

Members of the AAU are offered discounts from Motel 6, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and other participating companies. USAG members, on the other hand, receive special deals on apparel along with decals and a membership card.

Both institutions offer various levels of participant insurance during practice and competition.

Level Requirements

USAG and the AAU have different ages at which children can compete, depending on their ability. For the AAU, they recommend appropriate competition age. However, there are no mobility or eligibility requirements to meet to compete at any level.

With USAG, tryouts at specific competitions are the vehicle to decide whether or not children can move up in level or rank. Consequently, USAG has higher levels of competition for very skilled gymnasts.


USAG is unequivocally more rigorous than its AAU counterpart when it comes to scoring, and its rules are stricter. Moreover, there are severe penalties and deductions for failing or omitting a skill set.

However, in AAU, you can change and omit skills without affecting your score very much.

AAU Gymnastics vs. USA Gymnastics: Which is Better?

Which league you decide to join between USAG and AAU will heavily depend on your end goal. 

Do you intend to compete professionally or on a college team or make it to the Olympics one day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should join the USA Gymnastics team.

Go for the AAU league if you just want to enhance your skills and do gymnastics as a hobby. The AAU is where you can practice for recreational enjoyment in a calm environment.

AAU Gymnastics Levels

Gymnastics levels acknowledge the level of development of the gymnast’s skills. There are requirements and rules that each level possesses, and the athlete has to meet various conditions to reach that classification. 

AAU Gymnastics levels vary from 1-10. The beginner’s levels are from 1-3. Advanced gymnasts fall into levels 4-6, and professionals are usually level 7-10. Level 10 is the highest and most competitive level. 

The first three levels focus on the earliest abilities that gymnasts learn. Basic body positions, skills, and techniques are common during this period. These abilities are not considered competitive.

The same routine gets performed in each event, including only the barbell balance, vault, asymmetric bars, and floor exercises.

The main focus at this stage is the fundamental development of starter skills such as stretching, rolling, simple dismounts, and jumping. If the gymnast wants to perform at a higher level, they start here. 

More advanced gymnasts starting from level four have to expand their skills. They’ll now begin to include skills such as pivot spins, split jumps, side strips, somersaults, partial hand stops, and more.

They have to increase the difficulty of their turns and jumps, include headstands, and do backbends as well. 

Gymnasts can develop their own routines from levels seven and up. They do have specific criteria that they have to complete, but they have more freedom. Once gymnasts achieve all the necessary letter skills of varying difficulties, they can participate in professional and Olympic events.

AAU Gymnastics Scholarship

The AAU was established in 1888 and has always stood for uniformity in sports programs and opportunities for all. The organization offers an AAU Gymnastics College Scholarship, with more than $45,000 given away in financial aid.

Fifty-four gymnasts from the AAU program assist with college expenses. Competing in the AAU National Championship is not a requirement to receive AAU scholarships. 

The AAU scholarship program now includes junior coaches (AAU Youth Assistant Coaches). The 2021 recipients will be announced during the National Championship in Savannah, Georgia. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose AAU Gymnastics or the United States Association of Gymnastics, it’s a great opportunity. Considering the differences in scoring and the competitive atmosphere, make the best decision based on your personal goals.

Learn about gymnastics levels and how to advance from one level to the next, whether for professional completion or leisure. 

AAU scholarships are a great way to help you pay for college while also refining your skills. These financial aid assistance packets can be accessed online with the attached criteria to explain eligibility. 

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