Skills, movements and postures

There are numerous skills, movements and postures which may be incorporated into a gymnast’s routine: Abduction: refers to movements that are performed outwards from the centre of the body. Hip abduction describes the outward movement of the knees, legs and feet. Shoulder abduction describes the outward movement of the arms and hands away from the side of the body.

Acro: the tumbling skills exercised on the beam or floor.

Acrobatics: a general term encompassing the slower and more controlled elements of a routine which combine balance, strength and flexibility.

Active stretching: a stretching exercise requiring a partner to assist in the manipulation of a limb beyond its normal range of movement.

Adduction: refers to movements that are performed inwards towards the centre of the body. Hip adduction describes the inward movement of the knees when they are brought together. Shoulder adduction describes the inward movement of the arms when they are brought down to the side of the body.

Adductor muscles: the muscles on the inside of the thighs which act to pull the legs together.

Adolph: a type of front somersault performed on the trampoline which incorporates 3 ½ twists.

Aerial: a skill such as a cartwheel or walkover which is performed without the hands touching the floor or the base of the apparatus.

All around: the name given to a gymnast who performs in each gymnastic event.

Alternates: a skill which connects two somersaults or flips (also known as ‘saltos‘) with a type of handspring.

Amplitude: the height, distance and extension achieved in the performance of a particular skill.

Arabesque: a type of pose where one leg is extended behind the body and the supporting leg is bent or straight.

Arabian front: a type of somersault skill which is executed from a back tumbling skill, consisting of a ½ turn into a front salto.

Arabian double front: as an Arabian front but consisting of two somersaults.

Arch: a position in which the gymnast’s back is curved backwards and the chest is open, usually used in dance movements.

Artistic Gymnastics: also called display gymnastics, consisting of movements performed on the floor, beam, bars or vault.

A Skills: moves that are classified as requiring the lowest level of skill in gymnastics, such as front and back handsprings.

Assemble: a skill in which the gymnast lifts one leg up, springs off the other and brings both legs together in the air before landing on both feet with feet close together.

Attitude: similar to the arabesque but with the extended leg bent at the knee.

Back flip: a backwards somersault rotation, landing and ending on two feet.

Back giant: a skill performed on the bar in which the gymnast circles around the bar with their body fully extended.

Back handspring: a type of tumble with the gymnast beginning on their feet, springing backwards on to their hands and landing on their feet.

Back somersault: as a back flip, a backwards somersault rotation, landing and ending on two feet.

Back salto dismount: a backwards somersault rotation off a beam, bars, rings, or vault to end a routine.

Back walkover: a skill in which the gymnast lifts one leg and arches backwards, bringing the other leg over the body into a handstand and ending in a lunge.

Back bend: a position requiring immense flexibility, in which the back is arched and shoulders stretched, with the hands and feet on the floor.

Backgrab: a skill in which the gymnast kicks one leg behind them, grabs the same leg from above and ends up in what is known as a needle scale position.

Back-in: also called a full-out, this consists of a double back salto with a full twist during the second salto.

Balance: a static position which requires the gymnast to keep the shape of their body still for a short period of time, usually performed on the beam.

Ball Out: a front somersault executed on the trampoline from a bounce on the back.

Ballistic Stretching: the act of bouncing a limb in order to force it beyond its normal range of movement and increase flexibility.

Bar: a horizontal bar suspended in the air around which a gymnast performs a sequence of movements.

Barani: a forward somersault with a half twist.

Bhardwaj: named after Mohini Bhardwaj, the first gymnast to perform the skill, this is a salto performed on uneven bars. It requires the gymnast to hang from the high bar, swing forward towards the low bar and perform a backwards salto with a full turn to end on a handstand from the low bar.

Blind Change: executed on a high or uneven bar, the skill is executed from a back giant, with a half turn over the top of the bar, ending in a front giant.

Block: a rapid bounce or rebound off the floor or vault using the arms, with shoulders at full extension.

Body wave: a contraction that passes through the hips, shoulders, arms and heads in the same way as a wave.

Bonus Points: points awarded to the gymnast when they perform a skill at the highest level.

Borden: named after Amanda Borden who first performed the skill, this is a straddle pike jump with a ½ or ¾ turn, which is initiated from a sideways position on the beam.

Brause: named after gymnast Doris Fuchs Brause, a skill executed on the uneven bars, starting away from the high bar, going into a front salto and catching the high bar again.

Bridge: also known as a backbend, this describes a position assumed when the body forms a bridge with the hands and feet touching the floor and the arms and legs straight and close together.

Bryan: a skill performed on the pommel horse, named after gymnast Casey Bryan. It begins with the scissors, goes into a half turn to a handstand, followed by a half pirouette with a straddle to finish.

Cabriole: a type of leap where one leg is extended midair and the other leg makes contact with it before landing on the foot used for take-off.

Candlestick: a shoulder stand with the weight of the gymnast resting on the back of their shoulders and their feet pointed upwards.

Cartwheel: a sideways rotation requiring the gymnast to place the hands and feet alternately on the ground, like the spokes of a turning wheel.

Cat Leap: also known as a pas de chat, a type of leap where the gymnast travels through the air with one knee raised and then the other.

Chaine Turn: a turn executed on the balls of the feet as a series of half turns linked together, requiring the gymnast to keep the head still until the last moment, when it is whipped round to complete the turn.

Chasse: a dance movement where one foot looks to be chasing the other.

Chest Stand: a stand which requires the gymnast’s weight to be resting on their chest with their legs stretching over their head and upwards.

Choreography: a sequence of movements to make up a routine.

Chow: a skill executed on the uneven bars and named after gymnast, Amy Chow. Beginning with a stalder, the gymnast moves backwards into a high stand, turning one and a half times and ending with a mixed-L grip.

Circumduction: the movement of the body in a full circle.

Clear Hip Circle: a back hip circle performed on the bar without the hips touching the bar.

Code of Points: the system of judging gymnastics skills set out by the International Gymnastics Federation.

Cody: a back somersault executed on the trampoline from a front drop on to the stomach.

Composition: the structure of the movements and skills incorporated into a routine.

Compulsories: a routine in which the movements and skills required are specified by a particular governing body.

Counter Turn: a turn in which the hips move in the opposite direction of a double leg circle.

Crash dive: a skill performed on the trampoline circle, consisting of three quarters of a front somersault ending on the back.

Cross: a movement performed on the still rings, requiring the gymnast to hold their body in a straight or L-shaped position.

Daggett: performed on the pommel horse it begins with a back scissor move and ends with a half counterturn.

Dawes: performed on the uneven bars it begins with a back giant, moving to a handstand by one and a half turns.

Deduction: Points that are deducted from the gymnast’s final score for mistakes made in execution or composition.

Degree of Difficulty: a rating that measures the level of difficulty performed in each of the moves incorporated into the gymnast’s routine, used to help work out the gymnast’s final score.

Developpe: a dance movement performed by drawing the toe of one leg up the front, side or back of the other leg moving through to full extension at knee height.

Dislocate: requiring immense shoulder flexibility, this requires the gymnast to rotate their shoulders when executing a backwards turn or movement.

Dismount: the name given to the final skill executed in a routine, usually performed as a way of getting off the apparatus.

Double back: two consecutive backwards somersaults.

Double, Double: the term given when a double twist is followed by two back somersaults.

Double Full: a tumbling skill followed by a single layout salto followed by two twists.

Double Layout: a double back salto executed in the layout position.

Double Twist: a layout somersault incorporating two twists.

Eagle Grip: a way of gripping the rings or bar which requires the gymnast to turn their hands 180 degrees outwards from an ordinary grip, requiring great shoulder flexibility in order to maintain a swing.

Elbow Stand: a position which requires the gymnast to balance on their forearms on the floor.

Element: a singular movement or skill in a routine.

Endo: a skill performed on the bar, beginning with a forward straddle circle and ending with a handstand.

Execution: the form, style and technique which are used to complete particular elements of a routine, on which the gymnast is judged and marked accordingly.

Extension: the height reached when a leg is raised as part of a skill or movement.

Flexibility: the ability to move a limb or joint through the furthest possible range of motion.

Flic-Flac: also known as a flip-flop or back handspring this is a type of backwards tumble usually used as part of floor or beam routines.

Fliffis: the name given to any double somersault which incorporates a twist.

Flip: also called a somersault, a salto or a somie, a type of tumble which rotates horizontally.

Flyaway: a form of dismount consisting of a back salto, usually used from the uneven or high bar.

Fontaine: named after gymnast Larissa Fontaine, this is a dismount consisting of a double somersault with a back tuck and half twist.

Forward Somersault: a front tumbling skill usually executed on the beam or floor.

Fouette: a type of dance movement where the raised foot is whipped as it passes the supporting foot.

Front giant: executed on the bars, it requires the gymnast to circle around the bar in a forwards motion, beginning and ending with a handstand.

Front handspring: a type of forwards tumbling skill where the gymnast rotates a full circle without bending their arms or legs, taking off from two feet, moving into a handstand and landing back on two feet.

Front hip circle: executed on the uneven bars, the hands support the body with the hips resting on the bar, requiring the gymnast to fall forward and circle around the bar ending in the starting position.

Front split: a position assumed where one leg extends in front of the body and the other leg extends backwards at right angles to the upper body.

Front walkover: executed on the beam and the floor, this skill begins with a split handstand; the gymnast is required to walk over their body and finish on their feet.

Full twisting double back: similar to a double back but incorporating a full twist on one of the saltos.

Full-in, back out: a double salto with a full twist performed during the first salto.

Full-in, full-out: a double somersault incorporating a full twist on both the first and second saltos.

Full turn: a complete 360 degree turn executed on the floor and the beam.

Garrison: refers to one of four skills first performed by Kelly Garrisson: 1. a forward cat leap with bent legs and 1 ½ turns. 2. a forward shoulder roll to stand without using the hands as support. 3. starting from a tuck si incorporates a Valdez swing in a backwards direction, using one arm as support. 4. a tucked mount onto the balance beam.

Gatson: named after Jason Gatson, a backwards swing on the bar through to a full turn hop, finishing with a handstand.

Gaylord: named after Mitch Gaylord, consisting of a front giant on the bar, into a 1 ½ front salto finishing with a front somersault.

Giant: a full circle around the bar, moving from one handstand in to another handstand with the body fully extended.

Gienger: named after Eberhard Gienger, consists of a flyaway back salto with 1 ½ twists, finishing by regrasping the bar.

Grand Jete: a type of split leap from one foot to the other which can be executed with the legs closed or open.

Grand Plie: a position assumed by the gymnast which requires both legs to be fully bent and the body lowered to the floor.

Half-in, Half-out: a type of tumbling skill consisting of a double salto with a full twist on the first salto and a half twist on the second.

Handspring: a type of tumbling skill requiring the gymnast to take off from their feet, moving on to their hands and rotating back to their feet.

Handspring front: a move combining a handspring and front salto.

Handstand: a way of demonstrating control, requiring the gymnast to stand on their hands and, keeping their legs and body straight, extend their legs vertically into the air.

Hayden: named after Daniel Hayden and executed on the high bar this consists of a double salto going into a backwards twist over the bar.

Head in: a body position assumed during a handstand or giant where the gymnast’s head points down and their chin is tucked close to their chest.

Head out: a body position in which the gymnast’s head is up, with the chin tilted backwards, causing the back to be arched.

Healy: executed on most gymnastics apparatus, the gymnast begins with a handstand, falls forward, and executes a full turn using one arm as support.

Heel drive: the technique of driving the heels hard into the front of a vault to cause more rotation and power during a tumble.

Henrich: named after Christy Henrich, a skill performed on the beam consisting of a stag-split followed by a split leap with ½ a turn and ending by landing back on two feet.

Hip Circle: a skill requiring the gymnast to circle around a bar, touching the bar with their hips and supporting the weight of their body with their hands and arms.

Hollow: a position consisting of the hips being turned under, the bottom tucked in and the chest rounded forward.

Humphrey: named after Terin Humphrey, a skill performed on the floor consisting of a switch leap forwards, followed by a ¼ turn into a side split leap.

Hurdle: a move that acts as a transition between a run and a tumble.

Inverted Cross: an inverted handstand executed on the rings with the arms stretched out at a right angle to the body.

Inward turn: a turn on one foot in the opposite direction of the leg which is acting as support.

Iron Cross: a move executed on the rings with the body in an L-shaped position and the arms stretched straight out.

Jaeger: executed on the high or uneven bars, consists of a front salto release ending with a re-catch of the bar.

Jete: a movement requiring the gymnast to take off from one foot, throw the opposite leg in front of them and land on one foot.

Johnson: named after Brandy Johnson, a skill consisting of a switch-split leap forward, followed by a quarter turn to a side split leap.

Kip: a movement which acts as a transition between a hanging position on the bars to a support position.

Korbut: named after Olga Korbut, a skill executed on the uneven bars consisting of a backwards flip from a stand on the high bar.

Layout: a straight body position in which most twists and saltos are performed.

Layout step-out: a type of tumbling skill executed on the beam or the floor consisting of a back layout salto with split legs, requiring the gymnast to land on one foot after the other.

Leg circle: executed on the pommel-horse, requires the gymnast to swing their legs together in a full circle around the horse.

Limber: similar to a walkover this can be executed forwards or backwards with the legs staying together at all times.

Lunge: a starting or landing position where the front leg is bent and the back leg kept straight.

Maloney: the name given to two different skills first performed by Kristen Maloney on the uneven bars. 1. a skill consisting of a pike sole circle moving backwards to a handstand followed by a 360 degree turn to an L grip. 2. beginning from an inner front support on the low bar, a skill that consists of a pike sole circle backwards, moving to a handstand with flight to finish by hanging from the high bar.

McCool: named after Courtney McCool, a way of mounting the beam by a flyspring forward, landing on both feet at the end of the beam.

McNamara: named after Julianne McNamara, a way of mounting the uneven bar with a jump, hanging from the high bar to move into a free hip circle, followed by a half turn and ending in a hand stand.

Melissanidis: named after Melissanidis, a skill performed on the vault consisting off a round-off entry followed by two and a half back somersaults.

Miller: the name given to two skills first executed by Shannon Miller on the uneven bars. 1. a skill consisting of a cast followed by a handstand, ending with a 1 ½ turn to a mixed-L grip. 2. a skill consisting of a back dive followed by a quarter twist to a handstand and ending with a half pirouette.

Mixed grip: a way of gripping the bars, with one hand gripping with a regular grip and one hand gripping with a reverse grip.

Mount: the name given to the first skill in a gymnast’s routine and also to a way of getting on to a piece of apparatus.

Needle scale: a type of balance most commonly executed on the beam requiring the gymnast to balance on one foot and lift the other leg 180 degrees to the back of their body.

Okino: the name given to two skills first performed by Betty Okino. 1. a way of dismounting the uneven bar consisting of a free hip underswing followed by half a twist and finishing with a layout back salto.2. a triple turn.

Omelianchik: named after Oksana Omelianchik, a skill executed on a beam consisting of a back dive with a ¼ or ¾ twist, landing in a handstand.

O’Neill: named after Paul O’Neill a skill executed on the rings consisting of a stretched double feige moving backwards into a hang.

Optionals: the name given to routines that are created by the gymnasts and their coaches rather than being specified by a governing body.

Overgrip: a way of gripping on to the bar requiring the gymnast to have the palm of their hand and fingers facing away from themselves.

Overshoot: also called an underswing, a skill executed on the uneven bars as a way of moving from one bar to the other, requiring the gymnast to start on the high bar and swing over the low bar with a half turn, finishing by catching the low bar.

Pak Salto: executed on the uneven bars, as a way of transitioning between bars, requiring the gymnast to make a backward flip from the high bar to catch the low bar.

Passe: a position where one leg is turned outwards with the thigh perpendicular to the body, the knees bent and the toes touching the inner knee of the opposite leg.

Peel: the name given to an event in which a gymnast accidentally loses their grip on the apparatus and falls to the ground.

Phelps: named after Jayce Phelps, a skill executed on the vault consisting of a half twist on the vault, a half twist off the vault ending in a front layout.

Phillips: named after Kristie Phillips, a skill executed on the beam consisting of a handstand straddle split followed by a 90 degree backbend, then a press to side handstand ending with a front walkover to a side stand on both legs.

Pike: a body position requiring the gymnast to bend their body forwards at the waist keeping their legs straight.

Pirouette: a turn executed around the vertical axis of the body.

Pivot: a turn on the ball of one foot.

Planche: a skill executed on the rings, beam and floor requiring the gymnast to hold their body by their hands and arms in a position parallel to the floor.

Plie: a technique consisting of a bend and stretch of the hip, knee and ankle.

Plyometrics: a type of training used to improve muscle strength.

Pointed toes: the required position of the toe in most gymnastic moves, requiring the toes to be pointed vertically towards the floor.

Punch: a bounding movement requiring perfectly straight legs executed on the floor, vault board or beam.

Quadriffis: a quadruple somersault with a twist.

Quad twist: a single layout somersault with four twists.

Randolph: a front somersault consisting of 2 ½ twists.

Ray: the name given to three skills first executed on the uneven bars by Elise Ray. 1. a skill performed facing inwards, consisting of a backwards stalder with release and a counter movement forwards to catch the high bar. 2. a skill consisting of a handstand to the high bar, followed by a pike sole circle backward finishing with a counter straddle reverse over the high bar ending with a recatch. 3. a skill executed facing inwards consisting of a backwards stalder with release followed by a counter movement forwards ending with a catch of the high bar.

Re-grasp: The act of grasping the bar again after letting go of it once.

Release: The act of letting go of the bar in order to execute a move.

Releve: the act of lifting onto the ball of the foot.

Reverse turn: also known as an inward turn, the act of turning in the direction of the supporting leg.

Rotation: the name given to any circular motion executed around an axis of the gymnast’s body.

Roth: named after Bill Roth, a skill executed on the pommel horse from a cross support consisting of a reverse Stockli and a swing forwards to a cross support on the other end of the horse, without touching the pommels.

Round-off: a skill similar to the cartwheel but requiring the gymnast to land on both feet.

Rudolph: a front layout somersault consisting of 1 ½ twists.

Salto: also called a somersault, a skill in which the body makes a 360 degree turn in mid-air.

Scale: a position executed on the beam requiring the gymnast to raise their leg to an 180 degree split whilst balancing on the opposite leg.

Scissor kick: a jump from one foot to the other kicking each leg alternately with the legs kept straight.

Scissors leap: a leap in which the legs make a scissors split motion in the air.

Set: the upward movement of the arms before a ‘somersault” in order to provide the necessary momentum for the rotation of the body.

Specialist: a gymnast who only competes in one event in a competition.

Split: a skill which requires the legs to be extended in opposite directions, as far as possible away from each other.

Split leap: a skill consisting of the legs splitting as far away as possible from each other in mid-air.

Spotting: the act of assisting someone to aid them in learning a new skill.

Static stretching: the act of holding a relaxed position for a long period of time, in order to stretch a limb.

Step out: a finishing position after a tumble where a gymnast lands on each foot at different times.

Stick: the act of finishing a skill without taking any steps on landing.

Straddle: a position in which the body faces forward and the legs are spread in opposite directions to the side of the body.

Straddle glide: a skill consisting of a swinging movement going into a kip where the legs are spread far apart from each other, one leg pointing to each side of the body.

Straddle split: a position in which the legs are split, one to each side at a 180 degrees angle.

Straight position: a position usually assumed in dismounts from tumbles or somersaults in which the body is held perfectly straight.

Strug: named after Kerri Strug, a skill executed on the floor consisting of a tour jete followed by a half turn and finishing on both feet.

Stutz: a swing executed on the parallel bars requiring the gymnast to begin from a handstand on top of the bars, swing backwards between the bars and make a half turn, finishing in a handstand position but facing in the opposite direction.

Switch leap: a leap beginning with one leg in front of the other, transferring the front leg in mid-air.

Switch split side leap: a leap beginning like a switch leap but adding a quarter twist in the air and landing sideways.

Talavera: a skill named after Tracee Talavera and executed on the beam, consisting of a circular move around the beam.

Tap: the kick used to work up the motion and speed needed for rotations around the bar.

Thomas: named after Kurt Thomas the name given to two different floor skills. 1. a skill consisting of a 1 ½ backwards salto in a tucked or piked position followed by one and a half twists. 2. a skill consisting of a 1 ½ backwards salto in a layout position followed by 1 ½ twists.

Tkatchev: a type of release move, named after Alexandra Tkatchev, executed on a bar and consisting of a handstand followed by a giant swing, then a backwards straddle release and ending with a regrasp of the bar.

‘Tour jete: a type of jump consisting of a half turn and switch split.”

Tsukahrara: named after Mitsuo Tzukahara, a skill performed on the vault, consisting of a quarter or half turn into a back salto to dismount from the vault.

Tuck position: a position assumed by a gymnast, requiring the knees and hips to be bent and drawn into the chest, held in place by the hands.

Tumbling pass: a sequence of tumbles.

Turn: a rotation around one or both of the gymnast’s feet.

Turnout: a rotation of the leg, propelled by the hips which causes the knee and foot to turn outwards away from the centre of the body.

Twist: a rotation around the body’s vertical axis.

Undergrip: a type of grip where the gymnast holds on to the bar with their palms and fingers facing their body.

Underswing: a type of release from the high bar requiring the gymnast to swing up and over the low bar making a half turn before catching the low bar.

Virtuosity: a term referring to the rhythm and harmony display in a gymnast’s movements.

V-sit: a position of the body which requires the gymnast to raise their legs off the floor so that their body weight is supported by their hands only, forming the shape of a V.

Walkover: a skill in which the gymnast walks through the air moving from their feet to a handstand and back to their feet.

Wells: named after Trent Wells, a skill executed on the parallel bars consisting of a backwards giant swing.

Whip back: a backwards somersault similar to a handspring but without the hands making contact with floor.

White: a skill named after Morgan White and executed on the uneven bars, consisting of a front salder, moving in to an L-grip, followed by a half turn into a handstand.

Yurchenko: named after Natalia Yurchenko a type of vaulting skill, consisting of a roundoff on to the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the vaulting horse and ending with a backwards somersault off the horse.

Equipment/ Apparatus

Balance beam: a narrow piece of gymnastics equipment used in the women’s beam event on which the gymnast performs various acrobatic moves requiring immense balance and skill.

Buck: a type of short vaulting horse which has an elongated end and no pommels.

Grips: leather straps worn by gymnasts whilst executing moves on the bar or rings, as a way of increasing friction and reducing the risk of the gymnast losing their grip on the apparatus.

Gym suit: clothes worn by the gymnasts during competition and training, usually a leotard or similar which allows maximum freedom of movement.

High bar: a horizontal bar used in a men’s gymnastics event. The same name is also given to the highest bar on the uneven bars, used in a women’s gymnastics event.

Low bar: the lowest bar on the uneven bars, used in a women’s gymnastics event.

Mat: a piece of safety equipment used to break the fall of a dismount from an apparatus. Mats are usually covered in a form of soft polyurethane foam to cushion the gymnast’s landing. Parallel bars: a pair of metal bars positioned parallel with each other, used in a men’s gymnastics event.

Pit: a large expanse of soft foam used in training to cushion falls and landings off gymnastics apparatus.

Pommel horse: a block with two pommels on top, used in a men’s gymnastics event.

Spotting belt: a belt attached to cables which are anchored to the ceiling, worn by a gymnast in order to safely practise flips and twists in mid-air.

Spring board: a springy board used to gain bounce in the men’s and women’s vaulting event.

Stall bars: a piece of ladder-like equipment attached to a wall used for strengthening and stretching exercises.

Still rings: a pair of wood or fibreglass rings, used in a men’s gymnastics event.

Uneven bars: a pair of fibreglass bars at different levels, used in a women’s gymnastics event.

Vaulting table a block used for vaulting over in both a men’s and women’s gymnastics event.