Gymnastics Disciplines - British Gymnastics

Gymnastics Disciplines

About Disability Gymnastics

Disability Gymnastics involves the coach adapting gymnastics skills to ensure that disabled people can fully access gymnastics and are enabled to take part at the level of their choice.

Historically people with a learning disability had access to gymnastics through the Special Olympics movement. However in the UK, there was no similar provision for those with physical or sensory disabilities.

As a result, British Gymnastics has established Disability Gymnastics, to develop and provide training and competitive opportunities for all disabled people. Disability Gymnastics is 'Pan-Disability', (in other words; it means that it is accessible to people with any impairment). The Disability Gymnastics competitive structure is growing fast and at the pinnacle of this structure, National Disability Gymnastics Squads are also now in place for Men's, Women's, Trampoline and Rhythmic Gymnastics.

In order to provide appropriate levels of training and competition for disabled people, a National Development Plan and Voluntary Competition structure was introduced in Men's and Women's Artistic, Acrobatics, Trampoline and Rhythmic Gymnastics. This structure follows the prescribed discipline format, albeit with appropriate modifications. Our vision is for Disability Gymnastics to be integrated in to every mainstream competition where appropriate, from grassroots club competitions right through to British Championships.

Work has also been undertaken to allow for those gymnasts who aspire to compete internationally. As British Gymnastics has been and still is leading the world in the development of Disability Gymnastics, it was decided to host the first International Disability Gymnastics Competition in Belfast in 2000. This was combined with a symposium and workshop, sharing the good practice here in the UK. A second International was held again in Belfast, in 2003.

All disciplines of the sport have a role in the promotion and inclusion of disabled people. Whether accommodated within mainstream clubs or in specialised/dedicated disability centres or sessions, it is every coach's responsibility to provide appropriate training for individuals of all abilities.

To this end, British Gymnastics has developed a Disability Gymnastics Coaching Module and this is made open and available to coaches of all disciplines. With more than 1,000 British Gymnastics coaches having completed this module and numbers still rising; gymnastics is fast becoming more and more accessible to disabled people in a growing number of clubs all over the UK.

If you would like to find gymnastics opportunities for disabled people in a club near you, please click here

Tumbling is a characterised by the complex, swift and rhythmical succession of acrobatic bounding from hands to feet, feet to hands or even feet directly back onto feet. A tumbling pass may be over in a matter of seconds and is performed on a tumbling track that is 25 meters in length.

In tumbling, a gymnast performs a tumbling pass which sees the gymnast gain speed and power by running along a track and performing a series of somersaults and twists. World-class tumblers perform no less than two double somersaults in one run, the best of them three, with twisting elements in addition.

A typical tumbling competition will include the gymnast completing three tumbling passes. The first is called a Straight Pass (composed of somersaults), the second is called the Twisting Pass (twists) with the third and Final Pass (composed of both somersaults and twists.

Tumbling is the perfect sport for those looking for a fast-paced and daring challenge. Join a gymnastics club today.

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics – turning your world upside down
Popularised in the 70’s by elfin-like stars such as Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics remains one of biggest crowd pleasers and most watched sports at the Olympic games.

It’s fascination and popularity amongst girls of all ages lies in it’s ability to provide constant challenge and teach body control, coordination, amplitude and courage.

It was the sport of choice for the UK’s most decorated gymnast, Beth Tweddle, who began the sport at an early age yet continues to thrill audiences the world over, with her ability to innovate and prove that age is no barrier to participation and success.

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics is the sport of choice for girls who love turning their world upside down, in more ways than one:-

Vault (VT)
Following apparatus innovation in early 2001, the vaulting horse has now been replaced with a wider vaulting table. It provides the perfect platform from which to launch sky high, before returning to earth with a controlled landing.

Gymnasts approach the vault from a 25metre run, transfer their speed to the springboard and seek a quick hand placement to the table. From here the gymnast uses internal spring to launch themselves vertically for a combination of somersaults and twists. A good vault should land at least 2metres from the table and include no steps on landing

Uneven Bars (UB)
Like the men’s parallel bars the Uneven Bars provide double the challenge for gymnasts. The low bar is set around 170cm in height and the high bar often around 250cm. The distance between the two bars is set at a maximum of 180cm.

Swinging and continuous movements are required on this apparatus. Routines typically include movements in both directions as well as above and below the bars. Elements with twists and somersaults with multiple grip changes and high flight often are awarded with the highest scores. Like men’s horizontal bar, the wind up and dismount is often the most exciting part of the routine.

Balance Beam (BB)
Perhaps the most precarious piece of apparatus for girls, the beam stands 1.25metres from the floor, is five metres long and if that was not posing enough of a challenge, is only 10cm wide. That is the width of your average house brick!

A beam routine is an exercise in precision with no room for error. The gymnast performs a combination of acrobatic elements, leaps, jumps, turns, steps, waves and balance elements. These can be done standing, sitting or lying on the beam. It is a requirement that the gymnast uses the entire length of the beam, with routines concluding often with a series of acrobatic elements off the side or end of the beam.

Floor Exercise (FX)
The floor exercise allows the gymnast their moment in the spotlight and is considered by many to be the most expressive piece of women’s apparatus.

A floor routine, always accompanied by music, includes a combination of dance movements and sequences interspersed with a variety of tumbling and acrobatic elements. The whole floor area must be used in the routine with clear variances in mood, tempo and direction. Individuality, originality, and artistry of presentation are the key ingredients of a great routine.

If you want to see what the world looks like upside down, Join a gymnastics club today.

TeamGym – group gymnastics at its best
TeamGym is a team competition for men and women, which includes routines being performed on three pieces of apparatus: floor, trampette and a tumbling track.

As a natural extension of artistic gymnastics, TeamGym competitions provide a great opportunity for those gymnasts not wishing to take part in all six (men’s artistic) or four (women’s artistic) gymnastics, to work as part of a team.

TeamGym competitions may consist of three categories: women, men and mixed teams. In each of the three categories a team may consist of between 6 to 12 gymnasts.

TeamGym routines require effective teamwork, excellent technique and spectacular acrobatic elements. Training and competitions generate an excellent team spirit amongst gymnasts with routines providing great entertainment and spectacle for participants and spectators.

TeamGym competition has its roots in Scandinavia where it has been a major event for more than 20 years. The Euroteam competition, a recent addition to the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG) calendar, was first held in Finland in 1996 and now takes place in even-numbered years.

Gymnasts taking part in TeamGym competitions will perform routines (programmes) on the following pieces of apparatus:-

Teams perform an optional floor routine within a 14 x 20 metre non-sprung floor area. The routine is accompanied by instrumental music and emphasises strong and smooth teamwork and expressive presentation.

A typical floor routine will consist predominantly of gymnastic elements and meticulous choreography. The choice of elements must suit the level and maturity of the team as well as the music. The aim is good technical performance, fluent and linked movements, and certainty of synchronisation as well as expressive presentation.

Teams perform a series of somersaults and twists from a trampette, with good streaming (consecutively and close to each other). Part of the trampette series is performed using a vaulting table.

Again the complete series is performed to music, with each team performing three different rounds. The streaming and complexity of the elements produces some very exciting performances.

Tumbling Track
Teams perform a tumbling series on a 14 metre tumbling track with good streaming. This produces a very dynamic and entertaining performance.

The series is performed to music. Each team performs three different rounds and each tumbling series must consist of at least three different acrobatic elements, without intermediate steps.

TeamGym is the perfect way to extend or support the participation of other gymnastics disciplines. It provides a great way to keep in shape and maintain skills and fitness with friends. Join a gymnastics club today.

Acrobatic Gymnastics – a balancing act
Practised by both men and women, Acrobatic Gymnastics is amongst the oldest known sports practiced by the ancient Egyptians. The name comes from the Greek word ‘acrobateo’, meaning to rise or go forth.

Acrobatic Gymnastics is a modern and artistic discipline, which requires an extraordinary amount of courage and trust amongst gymnasts.

Acrobatic routines are choreographed to music and presented on a 12 X 12 metre sprung floor surface, Acrobatic Gymnastics is full of expression and provides gymnasts with a stage on which to shine.

In official competitions, Acrobatic Gymnastics offers five different possibilities of partnerships:

  • Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Pairs
  • Women’s Group (3 gymnasts)
  • Men’s Groups (4 gymnasts)

These partnerships are constructed in accordance with the gymnasts’ physical and psychological qualities: the Top needs to be aerial, of small body feature, highly flexible and nimble, while the Bases need to be strong, of larger body frame, steady and powerful. A mixed pair must always combine a male Base with a female Top.

Gymnasts work in harmony and trust, each responsible for their partner or partners. It is a true and testing examination of human relationships. Routines impose on gymnasts a need for strength, agility, flexibility, balance and acrobatic skills. The results are spectacular, intricate balances performed on partners, exciting multiple somersaults and twisting somersaults with partners being pitched and caught.

The routines presented in competitions are up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length and must include a number of required collective (partnership) and individual elements of three different types: static (balance), dynamic, and combined.

While the static routine must present balanced pyramidal constructions held for 3 seconds and other elements of strength, flexibility and agility, the dynamic routine should show flight elements such as throws, pitches and catches as well as dynamic tumbling elements.

The combined routine presents elements from both the dynamic and the static routines.

Great Britain is one of the most respected nations of the world in Acrobatic Gymnastics and has achieved success at World and European level with medals in all categories.

Acrobatic Gymnastics is the perfect team sport for those wishing to express themselves in movement.

To be part of this great tradition, Join a gymnastics club today.