Gymnastics Lingo And Glossary Of Terms

gymnastics lingo and terminology

Gymnastics Equipment Terminology

Balance Beam: One of four main female gymnastics events, utilized only by female gymnasts. The beam stands four feet high and four inches wide and requires balance, along with dance, gymnastics, and acrobatic skills, ending with a stable dismount.

Gymnastics Balance Beam

Horizontal Bar: An event in men’s gymnastics, utilizing a flexible high bar that allows for acrobatic tricks. 

Leotard: A light and tight outfit worn during competition, typically made of metallic material to add brightness.

Parallel Bars: Two bars, set parallel to each other, used by male gymnasts instead of uneven bars. 

Pommel Horse: Used only in men’s gymnastics, the pommel horse is a leather apparatus, shaped like a horse, with two handles for the gymnast to perform with. 

Runway: An 80-feet long stretch of carpet leading to the vaulting springboard.

Trampoline: An apparatus that allows for bouncing up to 30 feet in height, allowing gymnasts to perform flips and acrobatic tricks.

Uneven Bars: One of four main female gymnastic events, used only by female gymnasts. Two bars are set at different heights to allow gymnasts to jump between the two performing stunts in the air. 

Gymnastics General Terminology

Acrobatics: A type of gymnastics that mainly involves the use of tumbling and individual agility. 

All-Around: The scores of all events in gymnastics combined. In an All-Around competition, a female gymnast will compete in the vault, bars, beam, and floor sections. 

Choreography: The dance moves and skills that are included in the dance routine in a specific order. 

Floor Exercise: One of four main female gymnastic events, performed on a 39x39 surface made of foam, springs, and carpet. For male performances, the focus is on tumbling and flexibility. For female performances, the routine also includes music and dance routines. 

Gymnastics Flex Floor Systems

Meet: A gymnastics competition. 

Routine: A planned series of stunts and skills performed in each event to be scored by judges. 

Stick: When a gymnast lands after a routine and their feet remain still on the ground. This is a sign of balance and contributes to a higher overall score.

Vault: A leather-covered apparatus used by both male and female gymnasts to propel themselves into the air and perform acrobatic skills.

Gymnastics Stunts & Skill Terminology

Aerial: A skill performed by a gymnast in which they complete a flip in the air without their hands touching any apparatus, including the ground. 

Arabesque: A pose in which the gymnast has one leg extended behind the body in the air, with the other firmly planted. 

Back Handspring: Typically a linking movement during a routine, done by arching the back and jumping backward, springing off of the hands, rotating the body completely, and landing in an upright position. 

Cartwheel: One of the most basic skills in gymnastics, performed by putting both hands on the floor, one before the other, as the body flips upside down and the legs travel over the body. As both feet land back on the floor, the hands are lifted and the gymnast returns to an upright position. 

Dismount: The skill used to land after removing oneself from an apparatus, such as the balance beam. 

Flip: A skill in which the gymnast rotates their body completely, while in the air. Includes aerials, pikes, tucks, and layouts.

Handspring: Typically a linking movement during a routine, done by arching the back and jumping forward, springing off of the hands, rotating the body completely, and landing in an upright position. 

Handstand: A basic skill in gymnastics, occurs when the gymnast balances on their hands with both feet straight in the air above their body.

Gymnastics Handstand

Layout: A salto performed without bending the legs into the body.

Leap: A dance move in which the gymnast jumps from one foot and lands with one foot, advancing forward during the jump. 

Mount: A skill used by the gymnast to position themselves onto the apparatus.

Pike: A position in which the legs are kept straight and the body is bent forward at the hips.

Round Off: A skill performed by pushing-off of one leg in a cartwheel fashion, followed by the legs with both feet landing at the same time, resulting in a 90-degree turn.

Salto: A flip in which the feet completely rotate over the head, revolving around the line defined by the waist.

Salute: When the gymnast raises both hands in the air to signal to the judges that they are ready to begin their routine. 

Tuck Position: A position often utilized during flips in which the knees are bent and pulled into the chest. 

Turn: A dance move in which the gymnast spins completely around on one foot. 

Twist: Occurs when the gymnast completely rotates their body in a longitudinal way, rotating around the line defined by the spine.

Walkover: A skill performed by performing a handstand and then allowing the legs to slowly travel over the body and land on the ground, resulting in an upright position.

Gymnastics Rules & Scoring Terminology

Code of Points: The official rules of gymnastics. The code includes the points assigned to certain skills and how many points are removed for specific errors.

Deduction: The removal of points from a gymnast’s final score when an error takes place.

Difficulty Score: The component of the final score that is based on the degree of difficulty of the skills performed during the routine. 

Execution Score: The component of a final score that is based on the execution of the routine.

Judges: Licensed scorers of gymnastic competition who score routines out of 10 points, based on difficulty level and execution. 

Gymnastics Judges

Neutral Deductions: A removal of points from a gymnast’s total score for a violation that occurred separate from the routine, like an equipment or attire violation. 

Olympic Order: The order of events followed in international competition. For women’s gymnastics, the order is: vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. For men’s gymnastics, the order is: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar.