Women's Gymnastics Floor Exercise Event

Womens Gymnastics Floor Exercise Event

The floor exercise in women’s gymnastics is often considered the most exciting and engaging for fans. Gymnasts compete in routines to music, often getting the crowd involved with clapping and cheering. These routines are filled with high flying tumbling passes that gymnasts make look effortless. However, the skills performed by these gymnasts are very difficult and dangerous to complete. One gymnast who is famous for her floor exercises is Simone Biles, who has a tumbling skill named after her.

Floor Exercise Format

The floor exercise takes place on a raised surface, often called a flex floor or a spring floor. The gymnast will perform a routine set to music that includes elements of tumbling and dance. The gymnast has 90 seconds to complete their routine and will cover all four corners of the floor during their routine. They will attempt to combine different skills and elements fluidly and to the rhythm of their chosen music. Gymnasts will also have to include specific skills such as leaps and turns along with tumbling passes to reach high scores. 

Athletes will be scored on the difficulty of their skills, the execution of those skills, the fluidity of their movement, their ability to connect skills to one another during the routine, and how well they land certain skills. If a gymnast steps out of the floor bounds during their routine, their score will be lowered.

Floor Exercise Rules

There are several rules that dictate what a gymnast can and cannot do during their floor exercise routine. If they break these rules, they can lose points from their score or even get disqualified from the event. There are judges to monitor both the gymnast’s routine and the boundary lines. The rules are:

  1. Gymnasts receive 30 seconds of warm up time before their routine.
  2. The routine cannot last more than 90 seconds.
  3. The routine music cannot have spoken or sung words. If it does, 1 point will be deducted from the gymnast’s score. 
  4. Stepping out of the boundary lines will result in score penalties: 0.1 points for one foot and 0.3 points for two feet. A fall out of bounds will cost the gymnast 0.5 points.
  5. Gymnasts must use the entire floor during their routine, starting or completing skills in all four corners.
  6. Gymnasts cannot use any unauthorized landing mats on the floor, but can use authorized ones on certain tumbling passes.
  7. Points will be deducted from the gymnasts score if they make mistakes on certain skills or have poor form while completing them.
  8. Gymnasts must complete a certain amount of skills at a level of difficulty as determined by the rules of the competition they are competing in.

Floor Exercise Equipment

Gymnastics Flex Floor Systems

The only piece of equipment utilized in the floor exercise is the mat that gymnasts perform their routines on, often referred to as the flex floor, the spring floor, or just the floor. The floor is made out of flexible foam, a soft vinyl lining to prevent burns or injuries, and has springs beneath the surface to allow for elasticity. It comes in a perfect square shape, measuring approximately 40 feet by 40 feet. The floor can come in any color, but it is most often blue or white.

A thick border, most often made from white athletic tape, surrounds the margins of the floor. This tape is approximately 2 inches wide and is referred to as the delimitation strip. Gymnasts are allowed to step on this line, as long as their entire foot does not move beyond the line. If their entire foot moves beyond the line, the judges will deduct points from their overall score.

Skills and Techniques

Gymnasts are expected to perform a variety of skills and techniques during floor routines. These skills include tumbling passes, leaps, and dance elements. Many combinations and variations can be made with the skills used, so no floor routine is quite the same. Below are the most important and commonly seen skills used in women’s floor routines. They can often be combined with one another to increase the gymnast’s point value.

  • Aerial
  • Arabian
  • Back Handspring
  • Double Turn
  • Full Turn
  • Layout
  • Round-Off
  • Salto
  • Sissone
  • Split Jump/Leap
  • Stag Jump/Leap
  • Straddle Jump/Leap
  • Switch Leap/Jump
  • Triple Turn
  • Tuck
  • Tuck Jump
  • Whip
  • Wolf Turn