Vault, Bars, Beam, and Floor in a Nutshell


There are 4 events in girls competitive gymnastics. In the Olympic order they go: vault, bars, beam, and floor. Each event is equally important to an all-around competitive gymnast. It is rare that a gymnast is equally as strong on each event. For instance, a more powerful gymnast will more than likely excel on vault and floor since they involved more endurance, speed, and power. A more graceful gymnast will usually excel more in bars and beam. These events take more skill and focus. 

Here is a brief examination on each gymnastics event….

VAULT: Vault consist of a running strip usually 243 yards or so. The running strip is a foam underlay with a carpet overtop. The gymnast starts at the same distance each time, using a tape measure along the side to calculate her steps to the board. The timing must be precise for board take off to vault. A powerful run gets her to the board, and and underarm swing with the arms being down by the time both feet hit the board helps the gymnast create air, from the time her hands hit the vault to the time she dismounts to the mat. The better the run, arm swing, placement of hands on the vault, the greater the skill she can perform off the vault onto the mat. 

BARS: The uneven bars in woman's gymnastics are two wooden bars that can be adjusted apart based on each gymnasts height. There is a low bar and a high bar. The gymnast starts their mount on either the high or low bar and swings from one bar to the next with a series of kips, flips, and transitions. Grips are helpful to keep traction between the hands and the bars and are usually given to the gymnast once she starts to learn kips and giants.

BEAM: The balance beam is considered one of the scariest events for gymnasts because it is a 4 inch wide, 4 foot high piece of wood that a gymnast is required to flip, turn, jump, dance, and focus on for 1.5 minutes. Practice makes perfect on this gymnastics event. The only way to overcome the fear of this piece of wood is repetition. Eventually a gymnast learns to tumble on it as if it were the floor. Be patient with yourself on this piece of apparatus. 

FLOOR: The floor exercise is built of foam, springs, and carpet and is 39' X 39'. The gymnast performs 3 tumbling passes in her floor routines, which is around 1.5 minutes. Also in the floor routine you will see leaps, jumps, turns, and dance. An optional competitive gymnasts selects her own floor music. Compulsory gymnasts use the same floor music. Many gymnastics skills and drill are learned first on the floor. 

Gymnastics is a perfect sport for girls whether they make it to the competitive level or not. A gymnast starts in recreational gymnastics and once she builds the strength, determination, and focus will move on to competitive gymnastics. All four events will give you build your confidence and skills that last a lifetime!


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