Sports Breakdown: Gymnastics

OSU sophomore Kristina Peterson performs her floor routine as the OSU gymnastics team cheers during meet versus UCLA on Feb. 29, 2020 in Gill Coliseum.

Gymnastics is one of the oldest and most entertaining sports at both the collegiate and Olympic level. Gymnastics requires athleticism, balance, flexibility, strength, agility and above all, self confidence. 

In collegiate gymnastics meets, there are four events: vault, bars, balance beam and floor routine. Olympic order is used to determine which team competes at what event.

Each team will send six of their gymnasts to compete at each event. The gymnasts will all complete the routine, one by one, and try to get a maximum score of 10.0. Each event is scored by judges who will deduct points for any flaws during the routine, such as going out of bounds on the floor routine or stepping after landing during the vault event.

Once all six gymnasts have gone, the five highest scores are added together, and that score will now become the team score. The highest a team can score per event is 50.0. When each team has completed all four events, the team scores are added up, and the team with the highest combined team score throughout all four events wins the meet. 


Vault Routine: Gymnasts sprint down a runway, usually 82 feet, land with their hands on the vaulting table, and then propel themselves off the table and land onto a landing platform. Saltos, somersaults and flips are usually incorporated into the routine to get a higher score. 

Uneven Bars: Gymnasts perform a routine on two parallel horizontal bars that are set at two different heights. Gymnasts perform different swinging, transitional, release and circling moves. The height and width of the bars is adjusted to the size that is needed by each individual gymnast

Balance Beam: Gymnasts perform a choreographed routine on a padded beam that consists of leaps, somersaults and dance elements. 

Floor Exercise: Gymnasts perform a choreographed routine, accompanied with music, on a 12×12 spring floor. The routine consists of jumps, flips, turns and various acrobatic skills.

All-Around: A gymnast that competes in all four events in one meet (vault, bars, balance beam, and floor routine). 

Deduction: Points taken off a gymnast’s score, usually due to errors. 

Execution: The performance of a routine.  

Olympic Order: The international competition performance order of events, as follows: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. 

Routine: A combination of stunts during an event.  

Tuck: A position where both the knees and hips are bent and drawn into the gymnast’s chest. 

Salto: A flip or somersault where the feet come over the head and the body rotates around the waist axis. 

“Stuck” Landing: A slang term, meaning that a gymnast has executed a landing with the proper technique. 

Notable Gymnasts:

Simone Biles: The most decorated American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World championships at only 23 years old. 

Gabby Douglas: A 2012 Olympic all around champion and a 2015 all-around silver medalist. Also a member of the gold-winning teams at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

Shawn Johnson: 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medalist and floor exercise silver medalist. 

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