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Gymnastics Terms Glossary And Vocabulary – Fit2bmom

For a beginner, gymnastic terminology and jargon can seem a lot like quantum physics. That is exactly what it was like for me as a starter. I had taken refuge in surfing the internet, but it wasn’t long before it got exhausting to search the web and to go through several web pages over and over.

If you are in a similar situation, just know that you are not alone. However, to end this struggle right here, and to save any future gymnast of the same tyranny, I have come up with a mastermind solution! *cue the drumroll* I’m going to make a glossary of all the gymnastics terms.

To give the glossary a chronological order, I am going to put it alphabetically. On that note, let’s get right into it!  


AA; it is an abbreviation of All-Around (it is conventionally used to mention a gymnast that is performing on all 4 of the gymnastics events) 

AB; asymmetric bars/ it is also used as an abbreviation for uneven bars by the judges while scoring. 

Acrobatic Gymnastics; acrobatic gymnastics is a form of gymnastics that involves two gymnasts. The focus of acrobatic gymnastics lays greatly upon tumbling and balancing. In the USA, it is run by the gymnastics of the USA board. The routine and skill sets majorly make use of the floor as an event and are somewhat known to mimic the style of dance. There are diverse events in acrobatic gymnastics. 

Apparatus; apparatus is everything you use in a lab to test litmus paper. Don’t worry! I’m kidding, chemistry has nothing to do with gymnastics. In gymnastics terminology, apparatus is known as the equipment that is used to perform drills and warm-ups. 

Arabian; it is a type of salto performed by gymnasts that take off with a backward entry 

Aerial Cartwheel; is a cartwheel except that the gymnast is not allowed to touch the ground with her hands.

Acro-series; is a chain composing acro skills to mostly be performed on the floor or the beam. 

Artistry; the visual appeal that a gymnast exhibits while delivering a specific skill set is known as artistry. 

Aerial Flip; is an acrobatic flip with the inclusion of a rotation (180 degrees) while being at the epitome of height. Here is a detailed explanation on how to do an aerial flip.

Arabesque; a skill in which the gymnast is required to stand on one leg and raise the other one by an angle of 45 degrees. 


B.

Balance; the ability to maintain and equally distribute the weight of your body while having assumed a certain position.

Balance beam; Also known as "Beam". It is one of the four events included in USA gymnastics that the gymnast performs its beam related skillset over. The two types of beams are; high beams and low beams. These balance beams are available in different sizes as per the need of the skill and usually, it has a minimum width of 4 inches.

Bounce; the moment of a body in a vertical direction from the ground/trampoline into thin air. 

Back handspring; one of the basic gymnastic skills that a gymnast is required to learn. The primary muscles used in a back spring are those of upper limbs, lower limbs, and core muscles. Learn how to do a handspring

B score; a scoring measure as per the Code of points. A B-score signifies the decency, form, and execution of a gymnast. 

Bonus; the skills that a gymnast performs to gain scores in gymnastics competitions are known as bonuses. Additionally, in some higher levels of Junior Olympics such as level 9 and level 10, the base score is not 10.00. The gymnasts are required to learn ‘bonus’ skills and ideally achieve a score of 10.00. 

BB; a common abbreviation for the balance beam. 

Base; in acrobatic gymnastics, the taller and older gymnast plays as the base in the competition that requires the minimum of a pair or a group to perform a certain skill. 

Bib; the number written on a gymnast’s uniform for identification purposes. The same number is used for scoring as well. 

Bridge; is another skill in gymnastics that requires a gymnast’s arms and lower limbs to be the most strengthened. To perform a bridge, the doer needs to lay on the ground and push up so the body has taken up the posture similar to that of a bridge. 

Ball; an apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics.


C.

Cartwheel; is a floor skill that is considered compulsory on some higher gymnastics levels. It requires the shifting of a gymnast’s body from hands to weight in the forward direction while moving sideways. 

Cast; is a primary skill that is performed on bars. As the levels in gymnastics progress, a cast also becomes a part of one's compulsory routine. Here is an article on how to perform the cast handstand.

Code of points; the official document that has the details regarding the scoring in gymnastics competition of each particular event and all around. 

Clubs; an apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics. 

Competition; a final performance in front of the judges at the end of a gymnastics level on the base of which gymnasts are given a score

Circle; it is a human circle. It is a position in which the legs of a gymnast are put together while the hands carry the weight of the body. 

Choreography; how several valued skills are stringed together to form a routine for a gymnast. In compulsory levels, the routine is already primarily choreographed.  

Composition error; is a deduction that the judges make in final competitions because of a flaw in how the routine of a gymnast is put together.

Compulsory gymnastics; these are the levels in the USA gymnastics that have a designated routine each gymnast of that level is supposed to follow. Levels 1 to 6 are established as compulsory for giving the gymnasts each an opportunity to develop a strong base for advanced gymnastics. 

Connection value; if a gymnast is capable of putting two and two together to connect elements (two or more), the points they are granted for doing so. 


D.

Deductions; the reduction made in the score of a gymnast at an individual level due to a given error. 

Dismount; the manner to get up and off a particular apparatus, usually at the end of a gymnast’s routine. 

Dance passage; is an amalgamation of dance skills/elements put together for a gymnast’s routine. A dance passage is usually performed on a balance beam or a floor out of all the four events in gymnastics. 

Dynamics; this is one of the terminologies belonging to the scoreboard of gymnastics. It is used to indicate or mark a score for the strength a gymnast’s performance contains. 

Dive roll; changing positions from a handstand to a forward roll. 

Dance through; if your beam and floor routine is only a combination of several dance elements and lacks any tumbling skills, it will be known as a dance through. 

Discipline; the types of gymnastics are known as disciplines. A few of the recognized gymnastics disciplines are; acrobatic gymnastics, men’s artistic gymnastics, aerobic gymnastics, and rhythmic gymnastics.


E.

Elementary gymnastics; the gymnastics that are taken into perspective by a group of considerably older gymnasts while training. This is done to aid their understanding of different skill sets and gymnastics. 

Elite gymnastics; these are the advanced and secondary stages in competitive levels of gymnastics like after completing Xcel level 10 or the TOPs program.

Elbow stand; is a skill in which the body’s entire weight is to be balanced on the forearms alone. 

EGR; is an abbreviation for Element Group Requirements. 

Element; these are independent moves that a gymnast needs to learn in each level of gymnastics. A routine is a composition of several elements. Additionally, they are commonly also known as gymnastics skills. 

Execution score; is also known as the E-score based on which judges in gymnastic competitions make deductions. The E score is only given or reduced based on a gymnast’s execution skills. E.g. if someone exhibited poor artistry to the judges while going about their routine, their scores would be reduced from 10.00. 

Extension; when a gymnast does stretching of their lower limbs as a drill before the performance of the actual skill set itself. Learn how to do a back extension roll.


F.

Floor; is one of the standard events of gymnastics over which skills, routines, and drills are performed. 

Full; a flip with the inclusion of a full turn while being in midair. 

Floor exercises; skills that are performed on the floor event/apparatus during gymnastics of almost all disciplines. Some examples of floor exercises are; cartwheel, bridge, and rolls. 

Flight series; a flight series comprises skills or series that require the gymnast to be in the air without either her lower or upper limbs touching the apparatus (a balance beam). Acro skills are required to be performed with flight in advanced levels of gymnastics. 

Freestyle gymnastics; gymnastics that have a little bit of every other sport such as martial arts etc. The sole purpose of freestyle gymnastics is to give voice to its undeniably eruptive yet decent outlook. It is conducted on purpose-built equipment. 

Flic flac; a slang term for back handspring. 

FX; an abbreviation for ‘floor exercise’ 

Front tuck; a skillset that is taught to gymnasts in compulsory levels of USA gymnastics. The crux of the skill is that it demands a turn while the gymnast is still in midair. Learn how to do a front tuck.

Front Handspring; a version of handspring that requires the gymnast to move in the forward direction. It is performed with the help of strong arm and leg muscles and is part of a gymnast’s compulsory level four routine.

Flexibility; the tendency a gymnast has to stretch and move through restricted spaces as well as to maintain a posture. Less commonly it is also known as the mobility of a gymnast. Learn more about the importance of flexibility in gymnastics.

Federation Internationale de Gymnastique; an international-based organization that runs gymnastics. It is also known as ‘FIG’. 

Floor mats; important home gymnastics equipment commonly found in all gymnasiums. It is used for drills as well as floor routines to avoid any injury that a gymnast might have the risk of getting. 


G.

Gymnastics; Ah! This is a difficult one, let’s give it a try. It is a sport that requires physical strength as well as the flexibility to perform. It consists of several skills to be done over the standard four gymnastic events. To take part in international competitions as a gymnast, one is required to enroll in a gymnastics program. Examples of these programs are the Junior Olympics (JO) levels and the Xcel Gymnastics Program. 

Gymnasts; a person who does gymnastics is known as a gymnast. 

Gymnasium; is a standard place for gymnastics in which gymnasts are trained as per their level or dimension requirements. A gymnasium also has all the equipment required to perform certain routines such as kips. Having said that, someone doesn't need to perform gymnastics at the gymnasium only. 

Gymnastics meets; are the final competitions that gymnasts take part in as a team. Similar to all other sports and esports, gymnastics meets are pre-scheduled as well. This makes it easier for the competitors to prepare and be ready in time. 

Grips; are one of the primary pieces of equipment that you require as a gymnast in any of the gymnastics levels. They are straps of leather that are worn on one’s hands for protection from any scratches or rips. The best gymnastics grips are especially worn before any skill set that is to be performed on the bars. Grips may also be known as handguards. 

Good leg split; a split that is performed with the dominant leg put forward is a good leg split. 


H.

Handguard; it is the same as a grip (worn for the sake of protection of one's hands) 

Handstand; a position in which you are required to stand with your hands on the ground and your legs raised in the air. Handstands are performed on both floor and balance beam as part of a gymnast’s routine. There are many different types of handstands such as a press handstand. 

Hanging position; if a gymnast is performing a skill on a bar or rings, the initial position she assumes will be known as the hanging position. 

High bar is used as a support in several bars associated with skill sets. A high bar is usually higher than the height of a gymnast’s head and is also known as a horizontal bar. 

HB; an abbreviation for a high bar or horizontal bar. 

Hit; this is not necessarily a gymnastics term. However, it is used to mention that a gymnast has performed a skill set or an entire routine without any errors. 

Hoops; equipment used for some skills in rhythmic gymnastics. A hoop’s interior is hollow to allow the gymnast to perform a skill. 


I.

Illegal skills; certain skills that are not to be performed in gymnastic routines or in gymnastics competitions to gain points. These are restricted for the reason of avoiding any serious injury that a gymnast might suffer from if the skill does not go as planned. E.g. roll-out skills were banned in women gymnastics after a few unfortunate episodes. 

Indian clubs; equipment used in gymnasiums to increase resistance in a skill. The name of the equipment is derived from its area of origin.

Injury; a pain-causing incident that might take during the performance of a skillset in gymnastics. The risk of injuries, however, is nullified as far as is possible by making use of safety equipment and by providing proper guidelines to the gymnasts. 

Inquiry; a procedure conducted by the coaches or judges to decide the scoring of a gymnast based on his/her skills and other factors. 


J.

Jumps; a move that throws you up into the air against the push of your feet on the ground (or other equipment). A gymnast’s routine is a composition of jumps of different sorts. They may also be the beginning step of a gymnast’s skill. 

Judges; professionals who are made to judge the performance of a gymnast through several set standards (according to the USA gymnastics scoring guidelines and the code of points) e.g. artistry, composition, etc. 

Junior; a gymnast between the age of 12 to 15 who has already qualified as an elite gymnast but is unable to perform in the Olympics. The factor that pulls the juniors back from competing in the Olympics is common age. 

Junior Olympics; is the USA gymnastics program that is composed of different levels and gives gymnasts room for improvement as well as progression. It has both compulsory and primary levels introducing young gymnasts to new and encouraging skill sets. 

JO; abbreviation for Junior Olympics. 


K.

Kip; a skill that is performed on bars/uneven bars and is included in the routine of advanced levels of the JO program as well as the senior Dimensions of the Xcel Gymnastics Program. Performing a Kip requires the utmost amount of practice and exercises before the actual performance because of its demand for upper body strength. 

Kettlebell; equipment that is used in the gymnasium as well as at home by gymnasts (and other sportsmen/women) as a resistance. A kettlebell is necessary equipment to perform drills for skills that require strengthened core and arm muscles. It is also known for its capability to increase or induce flexibility in the body of a gymnast. 


L.

Launch; to throw oneself into a position at the beginning of skill or exercise. 

Launchpad; equipment that is used to make it easier for beginner gymnasts to assume a posture. Additionally, it is a compatible air-filled device that is considered most useful for round offs

Leotard; the gymnastics outfit that is worn by a gymnast in a gymnasium or during practice at home. It is designed in a way to allow the gymnast to move freely and comfortably while performing her routine. 

Layout; a position in which the body of a gymnast is wholly stretched. Saltos is performed in a layout position over events like a balance beam and a vault. 


M.

Mental block; a mental state gymnasts suffer from as starters. It inculcates the fear of performing a particular skill through the imagined or perceived physical consequences. 

Mental workout; exercises that are performed to be rid of a gymnast’s fear towards skills and gymnastics equipment. 

Mount; the manner to get over equipment or an event in a gymnasium and the skill of how it is done. 

Meet; another formal term for gymnastic competitions at any given stage. 


N.

Neutral deductions are the deductions that are made over the violation of a rule or a code of conduct of gymnastics. Regardless of how well a gymnast performs a routine, these deductions are to be made nonetheless. 

Numbers; The number is written on the uniform of a gymnast to make it easier for the judges to identify a particular gymnast as well as to score them. Numbers are known as a bib. 


o.

One-handed cartwheel; a cartwheel but only with the help of one hand while the other hand is behind the gymnast’s back. 

Optional gymnastics; levels of the USA Junior Olympics Gymnastics that do not have a standard routine for the gymnasts to perform. They are allowed to choose from a set of skills to comprise their customized routine. 

Out of bounds; it denotes the end or the border of a mat that a gymnast is not to cross. In case a violation is done during a meet, the consequence will be of point deduction. 

OOB; abbreviation for ‘out of bounds’.


P.

Posture; the position of a body to enable the performance of a skill. 

Pre wrap; a material attached underneath the athletic tape to prevent your body hair from being ripped or to avoid other skin rashes. 


R.

Rips; skin damage that may be caused by performing skills on bars without using handguards. 

Ribbon; an apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics to perform skills and improve artistry. 

Rings; are two circles hanging by tightly placed straps. Gymnastics rings are more commonly used in rhythmic gymnastics to perform different skills and routines. 

Releve; a position in which your toes and feet are extended forward. 

Rhythmic gymnastics; a renowned discipline of gymnastics that takes inspiration from theatrical dances, ballet, and apparatus manipulation. Rhythmic gymnastics has six events; rope, club, hoop, ribbon, ball, and free. 


S.

Skill; a movement that you learn to do with your body and construct an elaborative routine of. Here are 10 basic gymnastics skills that you should master.

Senior; a gymnast that has already gone through the prior levels of gymnastics and meets the age criteria for Olympics. 

Start value; the value a gymnast individually has at the start of a level before any deductions are made. E.g. The start value of a level 7 gymnast is 10.00. 

Split; is a basic skill taught in the beginner levels of gymnastics to improve the leg flexibility of a gymnast. It requires stretching both your legs to an extent that they make an angle of 180 degrees on the ground (or a balance beam). Learn how to do a split leap.


T.

Tuck; is a jump in which your knees are folded in a manner that they are touching your chest. This skill is a prerequisite for countless other secondary skills such as a front tuck.

Team final; a team of gymnasts who represent their country in the Olympics. 

Timer; a time limit is given or the time is taken by a gymnast to perform the first half of a skill. 


U.

USA gymnastics; USA gymnastics is the organization that runs the gymnastics system in the US. It is one of the most widely known bodies of gymnastics that provides a scoring board as well. 

Uneven bars; is one of the compulsory events of gymnastics over which countless skills are performed. Bars have their routine at each Olympic level. These uneven bars are placed at different heights. 


V.

Vault; is one of the four events of junior Olympics gymnastics over which skills are performed such as a front handspring over a vault table. In terms of measurements, a vault table is known to be 4 feet long and 3.12 feet wide. The abbreviated form for a vault table is VT.

Values; each gymnastics skill is given a value ranging from A to E. These values signal the difficulty level of a skillset. For example, in the Xcel Gymnastics Program, a gymnast of Xcel Gold is required to perform 6 ‘A’ valued skills. The skills with a value of A is deemed to be the easiest, whereas a skill with a value of ‘E’ is the most difficult.


X.

Xcel Gymnastics Program; The Xcel Program is an optional program from the JO Program. It consists of 5 basic dimensions or stages as a program itself. These five progressive stages are; bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and lastly diamond.