Key Step Competitions - British Gymnastics

The Key Step Gymnastics competition resource has been put together in response to numerous requests for a competition framework for ‘grass-roots' development in Primary schools.

Although it is designed as a toolkit for Partnerships the Key Step pack is suitable for use in individual schools, leisure centres, gymnastic clubs and district/county associations.

Although the pack is foremostly a competition resource, teachers report that information from the pack e.g. example routines, the supporting DVD and advice about individual skills progressions, has helped to enhance curricular PE lessons.

Key Step - The Gymnastics

There are 3 gymnastic areas, known as ‘disciplines' in Key Step. These are floor, vault and body management.

  1. Floor: Sequences of gymnastic skills performed on a small matted area. Routines include balancing, jumping, rolling and flexibility skills. Music is optional at level 3
  2. Vault: Skills are performed travelling on and off a bench (level 1) or box top (levels 2 & 3), at levels 2 & 3 vault can be taught with or without springboard
  3. Body Management: Routines designed to prepare the body for gymnastics. Performed on a small matted area, routines include strength, flexibility, balance and co-ordination skills

For each ‘discipline' there are 3 levels of routines (explained below).

Key Step - Ability Levels

There are 3 levels of routines within each discipline (Floor, Vault and Body Management). Key Step 1 is aimed at complete beginners. Each subsequent level involves progressively more advanced skills.

The age-related advice below should be considered as a loose guidance. Pupils should progress through the levels according to their ability; Newcomers to gymnastics should start at Key Step 1.

  1. Key Step 1 = Key Stage 1 (National Curriculum Years 1 & 2)
  2. Key Step 2 = Lower Key Stage 2 (National Curriculum Years 3 & 4)
  3. Key Step 3 = Upper Key Stage 2 (National Curriculum Years 5 & 6)

Key Step - The Pack


The pack includes...

  • 1 card depicting each key step routine at each level (9 cards in total)
  • Coaching points and tips for teaching individual skills on the reverse of each card
  • Posters showing each routine
  • DVD showing routines and demonstrating individual skill progressions
  • Sample certificates and badges for competitions
  • Guidelines on organising and delivering competitions
  • Information about judging
  • Advice about apparatus layout for competitions
  • Template documents useful for organising a competition
  • Score cards for a competition

Key Step - Getting Started

You can order a Key Step pack by contacting

0845 1297 129 option 4 - British Gymnastics, Ford Hall, Lilleshall National Sports Centre, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 9NB.

Or online at the British Gymnastics Online Shop

If you are going to begin using Key Step during your school lessons or club, or if you are going to set up a competition you may find it useful to talk to;

  1. The Primary Link Teacher for PE from your school
  2. The School Sports Co-ordinator attached to your school
  3. The School Games Organiser attached to your school
  4. Your Local Organising Committee
  5. Your local GymMark accredited club
  6. Your local Gymnastics Development Officer

Key Step - Running a cluster Key Step gymnastics competition

When running your competition please consider the following

·    Establish which levels of Key Steps competition will be offered and for which age group
·    Approximate number of entries
·    Festival or Competition
·    Number of children to a team
·    Venue and available space

When you have agreed the above, produce a draft schedule. The draft schedule should include 3 stations (floor, vault and body management)

If you wish to reduce the time it would take to run a festival it is possible to incorporate just the Body Management routines alongside the Vault, or the Floor Skills routine with the vault for competition at KS1.

Key Step - Example Schedules

For example schedules for a key step competion - click here

Key Step - Judging

A Key Step judging course has been developed to support the competitions. The course lasts 3 hours and is suitable for candidates with little or no gymnastic or judging experience. The course aims to; -

  1. Provide a foundation level in judging
  2. Encourage more young people to become involved in judging
  3. Encourage teachers/coaches to extend their knowledge of gymnastics
  4. Give teachers/coaches/young people the confidence to judge at beginner level

The course is suitable for candidates aged 13yrs+ and is an excellent option for young leaders and young volunteers.

Key Steps - Competitions

It is estimated that between thirty and forty five thousand children in England took part in the 460 Key Step competitions and festivals in the 2009/10 academic year. Many children will have been involved in more than one event if they were able to follow the pathway to Level 3 (See pathway diagram below).

The challenge now must be to sustain and develop the competition framework to ensure a significant number of these young people can perform at the next level. For floor and vault gymnastics this opportunity is already available through the British Schools Gymnastics Association (BSGA) competition programme.

Floor and Vault competition Pathway

Key Step 1
Floor, Vault and Body Management for Years 1 & 2
(Age related but local flexibility)

Key Step 2
Floor, Vault and Body Management for Years 3 & 4
(Age related but local flexibility)
Key Step 3

Floor, Vault and Body Management for Years 5 & 6
(Age related but local flexibility)

Leading to
BSGA Floor and Vault Competition for Years 4 to 13 at County, Regional and National Level


Some things you should know about the BSGA Floor and Vault Competition - Key Step 4

  • It represents very simple progression from Key Step 3.
  • The floor routine can be made up of six very easy moves from the British Gymnastics (BG) Proficiency Award Scheme charts (See the table of permitted moves)
  • A full 12 metre floor area is used for the competition. In order to practice without a full floor area, you can measure space available in your own gym/hall and then set out mats in appropriate locations to perform the agilities. You also need a vaulting box at least 1 metre high, a springboard and suitable mats for a landing surface.
  • Usually teams compete in their region with the winners of each section qualifying for the National finals. It is still possible in some regions and in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, (in some age groups), to go direct to the National final.
  • The competition is accessible to all because most marks are awarded for performing and linking routines neatly rather than the difficulty of the agilities or vaults