In the world of gymnastics competitions there are 4 different “events” for women each of which revolves around one particular gymnastics apparatus. For every competition all 4 of these events are done in the same order.
The main 4 women’s gymnastics apparatus are: the beam, the vault table, the floor, and the uneven bars. These 4 pieces of equipment for the women always have the same dimensions and designs, though they can be different colors and can be made of different materials. Men, on the other hand, have 7 different events.
Even though it might seem a little silly to refer to the floor as an apparatus, even this has specifics to it. It is these specifics that make sure that the way you train in gym class is the same way you will compete. This way you do not get thrown off your game by practicing at a certain height only to find that the height of the bar is different when you go to compete.
You can also use these details to make or to set up your own gymnastics apparatus at home with the perfect security that you are practicing correctly. The order that the events are always done is: the vault, the uneven bars, the balance beam, and the last one is the floor.
The Vault Table Details
The abbreviation for the vaulting event is VT. The vault features not only the vault table itself, but also a runway, a springboard, and a landing spot. The judging for this is based on the gymnast’s form, alignment, the number of twists and turns they do, their landing at the end, as well as distance and heights they achieve.
To perform a vault, a gymnast runs down the runway and jumps onto the springboard which then helps to catapult them onto the vaulting table. Once there they “vault” off of it, usually with a flip or twist of some kind.
If a female gymnast “baulks” for whatever reason and stops on the runway she has 30 seconds to go back to the starting position and start again. If, however, she has touched either the springboard or the vaulting table before she baulks, then her score is considered 0 and she may not try again. The same score is given should the gymnast miss the vaulting table and not touch it as they go over.
The height of the vault table is just over 4’ off of the ground and it is 3’ wide by nearly 4’ long. The runway to it is just over 3’ wide and is somewhere between 78’-82’ in length to give the gymnasts a good running start and this is usually either padded or carpeted to prevent slipping.
The landing area is also often marked because the gymnasts also have to land in a certain area that is neither too close not too far from the vaulting table. One of the most important parts when it comes to scoring is the landing. This must be precise with no stumbling, wobbling, or even taking so much as one step in any direction to help steady oneself with.
The Uneven Bars Details
The abbreviations for this event can either be UB or AB. The uneven bars feature two horizontal bars with one being higher than the other. The key point for this event, besides the landing, is the form and alignment of the gymnast. The gymnast should stay as perfectly straight in body as possible especially if they are doing something like a handstand on the bars.
The things that must be included in each gymnast’s routine are: a flight element from the low bar to the high bar and from the high bar to the low bar, a flight element on the same bar, at least two different grips and a close bar element, and, last but not least, a non-flight with a turn on the bar.
Not including all of these in the routine is cause for a deduction. So is hitting the floor with your feet while on the low bar, “empty” swings that do not lead into anything and seem to only be to help your momentum, and wobbling or falling over when you dismount.
The uneven bars are usually made of a coated fiberglass, but can also be made from wood and they are 6’ apart from each other. One is 5’4” high while the other one is 8’ high. The width of the bars is nearly 8’ and the diameter of the bars themselves is 1.6”.
These dimensions give enough room for the gymnasts to pass between the two bars while it still leaves them close enough to switch from one to the other with ease. The width makes sure that any horizontal maneuvers have something that the judges can compare it to when determining the score, and the diameter is perfect for the proper grip.
Most beginners practice with just the lower bar and with plenty of padding underneath in case of a fall. A springboard to help you get into position is also permissible in some cases even when competing, and it should be removed by the coach as soon as the gymnast is on the bars so that it does not interfere with the routine.
The Balance Beam Details
The scoring acronym for the balance beam event is BB. The balance beam is essentially a wooden beam that is raised above the ground and built so as not to wobble not matter what you do on top of it. This event features a routine that is no longer than a minute and a half long, going over the allotted time is cause for a deduction.
The gymnast must perform certain tasks during their routine which can lead to a deduction if they miss it. These are: a full turn on one foot, both a forward and a backward acrobatic element, a series of two acrobatic skills done one after the other, and a connection of two dance elements such as a leap, a jump, or a jump with a 180 degree leg split.
The beam is just over 4’ off of the ground and is 4” wide and 16 ½’ long. This beam is often covered with a leather-like material or something to help prevent slipping. Sometime practice beams are closer to the ground to help beginners feel more comfortable. These are very important measurements to a gymnast since if they miscalculate and fall off for any reason a whole point is deducted from their score.
The gymnast can choose whether they want to wear gymnastic shoes, go barefoot, or chalk their feet when competing. They are also allowed to have small markings on the balance beam to help them when they are doing their routine.
The Floor Details
The scoring acronym for the floor event is FX. Like the beam event, the floor event lasts no more than a minute and a half. Also like the beam there are certain maneuvers that must be included in the routine in order to avoid deductions. These three maneuvers are: a non-acrobatic one, a forward motion acrobatic one, and a backward motion acrobatic one.
The judging for this is based on form, artistry, difficulty, and also the use of the floor. A good routine should use as much area in the square as possible, so if you stay in one area too much and do not use the whole square it does count against you.
The floor is marked off 39’ by 39’ area that has nothing in it besides the floor, the edges of this square being clearly marked. The floor itself is made up of a spring floor material that has a small amount of both cushion and bounce to it.
The floor event is the only one that is done to music and can sometimes be mistaken as a form of ballet. However, it is important to note that music that has lyrics is not allowed here; only instrumental music can be played.