While there are some events in artistic gymnastics that are definitely harder than others are, what the most difficult one can actually vary based on the strong points and the weak points of each particular gymnast. However, there is in event which the largest amount of gymnasts consider to be the most difficult.
The most difficult artistic gymnastics event for women tends to be that of the balance beam. This being the case, it is little surprise that the most difficult event in artistic gymnastics for the men is the pommel horse event.
Knowing a bit more about these two events and the science behind gymnastics can really help to give you a better understanding of what it is that makes them so difficult. It also just might give you a better understanding of the amount of discipline that it takes in order to learn a sport like gymnastics.
The Most Difficult Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Event – The Balance Beam
The balance beam is a women’s artistic gymnastics event that is done on a beam that is only 4”wide. The beam routine only lasts for a maximum of 90 seconds and should include the whole length of the beam as much as possible. While she is on the beam a gymnast must include certain maneuvers and skills depending on the level that she is in.
While they are on the beam a good gymnast can generally give the impression that they are performing their maneuvers on the floor as they do all manner of flips and jumps. This requires not only a lot of courage when it takes the gymnast far above the beam, but it also takes a large amount of coordination in order to do these maneuvers and to still land correctly on the 4” wide beam.
Another feature about the balance beam is the fact that any mistake that is made here is much more noticeable, especially if the mistake involves deviating to either side when doing an aerial or any other similar maneuver. It is generally harder to avoid making mistakes here, even when you can do the same skills on the ground, in part due to that fact that simply knowing that you are off of the ground can make you tense up which makes you even more likely to make an error of some kind.
Even a slight mistake here can in turn cause the gymnast to wobble for a moment as she regains her balance, thereby getting her two deductions: one for the mistake and the other one for wobbling afterwards. Should the gymnast fall, that is even worse of a deduction, not to mention that she risks getting hurt.
All in all, while some gymnasts actually like the balance beam and even go so far as to specialize in it, more gymnasts dislike this event than any other. Part of this is due to its difficulty, but part of it is also due to the fact that almost all of the maneuvers that are put here are just the same ones that are done with the floor routine. While this makes them slightly easier to do, is does make them less interesting.
But let’s take a moment to compare the balance beam to the other events in the women’s division of the artistic gymnastics. While some gymnasts tend to feel that the uneven bars are the most difficult, if you pause to think about it you will see that there is only a chance that you might fall during the in-flight elements, while the rest of the time you are firmly grasping the bar. On the other hand, when it comes to the balance beam you risk falling off of the beam with practically every maneuver that you do.
Also, compared to the vault which is over in a matter of seconds there is much more training time, skills, and possibilities for something to go wrong in the balance beam event. Finally there is pretty much no debate that it is harder than the floor event, since it will always be harder to do the exact same moves on a beam than it is to do them on the floor.
The Most Difficult Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Event – The Pommel Horse
The pommel horse is pretty easily considered to be the most difficult out of the men’s artistic gymnastics events. One of the reasons for this is that even starting to learn the most basic skills for it can take a long time to master as well as a lot of strength.
For most of the other events, both in the men’s and women’s divisions, many of the skills from each event are useful if not nearly the same in some of the other events. This is not the case for the pommel horse, with none of the maneuvers from the other events being transferred to this one and none of the skills that are learned here being useful elsewhere. The result is that there is much more that has to be learned specifically for this event.
The routines on the pommel horse are made up of a continuous series of circular movements by the gymnast’s lower body. The hands are the only part of the body that is allowed to touch the pommel horse during the whole of the routine. Technically speaking most of the routine is done with only one of the gymnast’s hands on the pommel horse.
This is because almost each of the skills will need the gymnast to change his hand positions at the end of every maneuver in order to get into position to start the next one. Also, there are some maneuvers that are done on only one arm. This means that the gymnast will spend almost the whole time he is on the pommel horse supporting his whole weight up with only one arm.
In part because of the somewhat precarious balance involved, the pommel horse event does not allow you to make any pauses between maneuvers and requires you to go straight from one skill into the next. This is true even in the case of any mistakes being made. Therefore, if a gymnast makes a mistake while on the pommel horse he must work at correcting himself as he continues to move into the next thing, which is not something that is easy to do.
This whole time the judges will be looking at the gymnast’s hips to make sure that he is holding them high enough and that the scissors that are required are done with the correct amount of leg separation to them. And with all of that the movements of the gymnast should still be done with a nice amount of flow to them.
All in all, this event is undoubtedly the most difficult to do out of the men’s artistic gymnastics events. Even the high bar and the parallel bars do not require the same level of upper body strength since the gymnast is allowed to touch both of these bars with the rest of his body and have momentary pauses between maneuvers when needed.
The vault, like with the women’s event, is over in just a matter of moments and does not require nearly the amount of training that the pommel horse does. Finally, while the still rings do come close to being as difficult to do, there is definitely not any competition between the floor event and that of the pommel horse. This is because the still ring is still using more vertical circular movements which are easier to do than circular movements that must be held out horizontally.
All in all, the pommel horse event is quite possibly the all around most difficult artistic gymnastics event that there is – even more so than the women’s balance beam event. After all, while some non-gymnasts can do things like cartwheels or other simple things and even be able to do them on a 4” wide beam sometimes, how many non-gymnasts can hold themselves vertically with even two hands on a pommel horse?