The world of gymnastics offers several different elements for female athletes to participate in. While most meets or competitions combine a variety of styles together to determine an overall winner those who are simply interested in gymnastics as a hobby can study only those styles that they are interested in, and omit the others.
One of the most common styles or elements that comes to mind is the floor exercise. This is what most people think of when they consider gymnastics however; it is certainly not the only element. In the floor exercise, the gymnast performs a routine on a floor that is 12 meters square in size. The floor is specially created with carpet as well as foam layered onto the top of plywood that is suspended on springs to allow for a soft landing and extra force when doing flips and jumps.
Most floor routines are in the range of 70 to 90 seconds, with very few ever being longer because of the physical energy exerted during a routine. The routine is choreographed carefully to highlight the gymnasts’ specific abilities and skills. In a typical routine, the gymnast will perform several passes from one corner to the other while stringing tricks together.
The second element is the vault, which involves sprinting quickly down a runway that is approximately 82 feet long or 25 meters and landing on what is called a beat board. This then propels the gymnast up onto the vault horse with their hands holding them on upside down, before springing off and landing on a separate platform without wobbling, or losing their balance. While in idea this sounds like a very simple task, this is a skill that can take a very long time to master. Many gymnasts will even attempt tricks while mounted on the vault, though this is generally not a requirement.
One of the most popular elements to watch is the uneven bars. These are two bars that are horizontal to the floor and set at different heights. The level of the bars is fixed so that they cannot come off, and the gymnast is safe to perform spins, circles, and various other moves on the bars. In common practice gymnasts will use a springboard to jump to the lower bar and begin their routine from there. In order to protect the hands as much as possible, most gymnasts wear leather gloves that are called grips, which also help to maintain the grip of the bars. In addition to using grips, many also use water and chalk to help maintain a secure grip of the bars. Using just bare hands is quite uncommon as rips and tears in the skin are possible and the occurrence of blisters is also high as well. Considered as one of the most advanced elements, young gymnasts are usually not permitted to perform on the uneven bars.
The final element for women is the balance beam. This is a routine that is anywhere from 60 to 80 seconds long and is carefully choreographed just as the floor routine to highlight the gymnasts abilities. Using turns, leaps and acrobatic skills the gymnast carefully performs on the bar that is 125cm off of the floor, 500 cm long, and only 10cm wide. This tends to be a highly advanced element because of the skills in balance as well as strength that are required from the gymnast.