HomeSportsGymnasticsGymnastics: All you need to know about the sport

Gymnastics: All you need to know about the sport

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Gymnastics: If you could run, swing, jump and move your body with amazing shape and symphonic physical coordination, you are simply performing gymnastics. In ancient Greece, naked men practiced several physical exercises to maintain a flexible and healthy body. Today, after 2500 years, gymnastics is an Olympic event and one of those types of sports you would merely enjoy even without knowing the rules of it. Here we present the complete guide to Gymnastics – the sport and everything about it.

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The history of Gymnastics

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It all started from the gymnasium – a place where people gather to collectively take part in various physical activities. Exercises with properties like rope, ring, etc… and combat games were also part of it. The term gymnastics is actually derived from a Greek term meaning ‘exercising naked’ which was exactly what happened in ancient gymnasiums because having good physical fitness was everyone’s goal back then in Greece. The gymnasium wasn’t just for sports, but also helped the Greek community in understanding philosophy, music, and art. It acted as a cultural space because they believed in the function of balancing mind and body through these exercises.

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After the inclusion of gymnastics in the ancient Greek Olympics and the widened exposure of floor, ring, and pommel horse exercises, it all became a part of Greek culture and even became mandatory for students to practice gymnastics. After the Roman Conquest, gymnastics became a physical routine for the Roman army men. The Roman approach to gymnastics was formal and the common people started losing interest in it. As a result, when Romans retreated from Greece, the scope and enthusiasm towards gymnastics diminished.  

In the 16th century, gymnastics revived along with the Renaissance. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who is known as the “father of modern gymnastics’ ‘ invented new events such as the sidebar, balance beam, horizontal bars, parallel bars, ladder, vaulting horse, and jumping events. 19the century witnessed the heyday of gymnastics as the sport expanded to Germanic countries. Gymnastics was introduced to the U.S military during the time of civil war to improve their combat skills. In the 1896 Modern Olympics, the sport became an Olympic event.

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Types of Gymnastics 

Artistic Gymnastics

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The customary form of gymnastics. Artistic gymnastics is a category for both men and women. There are three major types of artistic gymnastics competitions namely individual, team, and individual all-round. Floor exercise, balance beam, uneven bars, and vault are the four events women artistic gymnasts compete in while men have six events: floor exercise, vault, pommel horse, high bar, parallel bars and still rings.  

Rhythmic Gymnastics

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This female-only event was first introduced in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Rhythmic gymnastics is more like a combination of ballet dancing and gymnastics. The focus is on the music and the aesthetics of the moves rather than acrobatics. The participants can use any of the provided five apparatus which are ribbon, hoops, rope, clubs, and ball. In the group category, a maximum of six members can perform with not more than two apparatuses of their liking.

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Trampoline gymnastics

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As you would have predicted, it’s gymnastics with the help of a trampoline. Athletes jump on the trampoline and make use of the airtime to perform flips and turns. This is an individual event performed by all gendered athletes. It entered the Olympics in 2000.

Gymnastics rules and regulations

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Rules of Artistic Gymnastics

For women, there are four events in artistic gymnastics.  

  • Floor Exercise: Within the provided 90 seconds, each of the participants displays their performance, which is basically a mixture of gymnastics and dance. The athlete flips turn and execute leaps and spins within the given time utilizing the fixed space.  
  • Uneven Bars:  A pair of bars is the equipment for this event. Transferring the majority of stress to the upper body, the participant moves back and forth the bars performing various swings and body flips staying six feet above the ground.  
  • Vault: Starting from a 25-meter run, athletes launch themselves by pushing their hand on the springboard and use the short air-time to make twists and somersaults.  
  • Balance Beam: This is a showcase of sheer balance. Gymnasts try to precisely accomplish numerous spins and postures without losing balance and falling from the beam.

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These are the four men’s events that are different from the set of women’s events. (Floor exercise and Vault has similar rules) 

  • Pommel Horse: Super strong arms and a flexible lower body is the key. Clutching to the handles on the top of the prop, participants executed a combination of swings and lifts without landing on their feet.  
  • Parallel bars: There will be two bars arranged side-by-side 2 meters high from the ground. The task is to hold onto these bars and perform stunts that will earn you points. 
  • Horizontal bars: Similar to the parallel bar event, but with one long bar instead of two. Athletes could launch themselves over the bar using the swing momentum and execute moves but have to make sure that they shouldn’t lose the grip once they fall back.  
  • Gymnastics Rings: A pair of rings 50 cm apart and 2.8 meters high from the ground. Holding on to these rings, they can swing and carry out flips or twists or hold postures during the span of the performance.  

Except for the floor exercise and balance beam, every other event is not time-bound. Exceeding the time limit leads to reducing points as a penalty. Also, coaches have the crucial duty of determining the competitive caliber of the athletes. The scoring is based on two factors: Execution and difficulty. The difficulty of the elements in routines and composition requirements is taken into account along with the credits which come with each of the routines determines difficulty scoring. Meanwhile, the execution score would be a complete 10.0 at the beginning of each performance and then gradually reduced for each mistake and fault.

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Rules of Rhythmic Gymnastics

As mentioned above, this is a women-only event using any of the five different apparatuses. In the individual format, every participant displays their choreographed performances using any one of the apparatuses. Gymnasts strive to maintain the chemistry with the apparatus at all times and to match with the music running in the background. For the All-round group format, there will be two different performances; one with the group using the same apparatus and the other with different apparatus. The scoring is again based on difficulty and execution. This particular event is judged like an art form compared to other events.  

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Rules of Trampoline Gymnastics 

Trampoline Gymnastics has a qualifying round where all the 32 participants have to go through to reach the finals. There are two routines in the qualifying stage; the first one with a few special requirements and the second one being a voluntary exercise. Athletes take three kinds of airborne positions in trampoline gymnastics namely the tuck, the pike, and straight (also known as layout). Other stunts would be counted in terms of difficulty to earn points. The performances span around 20 seconds each. Athletes should start and finish on both feet. The point system has four criteria; execution difficulty, time of flight, and horizontal displacement. After finishing the performance, the athlete has to make sure that the trampoline shouldn’t move at the finishing three seconds. 

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Indian gymnasts

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Indian gymnastics are far away compared to international competition. But in the last few years, some budding gymnasts are showing great potential and are capable of contending for Olympic glory. So far, the most talented gymnast India has produced is Dipa Karmakar, the 2016 Rio Olympic participant. She was one of those rare gymnasts who could perform the tough Produnova vault. She is also the first-ever Indian female gymnast to win a medal. The latest addition to the list is the 26-year-old Pranati Nayak who is about to feature in Artistic gymnastics event in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Aruna Reddy is a notable name in the field for creating history by winning a bronze medal in the 2018 Gymnastics World Cup. Talking about Indian male gymnasts, Ashish Kumar is the one to show. He became the first Indian to win a medal at an international competition. In the 2010 Commonwealth games, he won a silver and a bronze for India. Though to achieve the ultimate goal, the Indian gymnastic domain has a long way to go.

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List of famous Indian Gymnast

S.NIndian GymnastsAchievements
1Dipa Karmakar
  • First Indian female to qualify for the Olympics.
  • Winner of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Padma Shri.
  • Bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Only the 5th gymnast to pull of the Produnova vault.
  • Bronze in 2015 Asian Championship (Vault)
2Aruna Reddy
  • Bronze medal in the women’s individual vault event at 2018 Gymnastics WC (first Indian to win the medal in an individual event)
3Ashish Kumar
  • Bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
  • Silver in men’s vault CWG 2010.
  • Bronze medal in 2006 – Asian Championship.
4Meghana Gundlapally Reddy
  • First Indian to perform in Rhythmic Gymnastics at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
5Sham Lal
  • Participated in 7 events at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Arjuna Award – 1961.
6Mantu Debnath
  • 1st Indian gymnast to win an international competition in Russia in 1969.
  • Arjuna Award – 1975
7Sunita Sharma
  • Arjuna Award – 1985
8Krupali Patel
  • Arjuna Award – 1989
9Kalpana Debnath
  • Arjuna Award- 2000


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Gymnastics Facts

Gymnastics Facts Infographics
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  • Father of Gymnastics: Friedrich Ludwig Jahn

  • Gymnastics was played since at the 1st Olympic games

  • There are 6 events in men’s Olympic Gymnastics

  • There are 4 events in the Women’s Olympic Artistic Gymnastics

  • Only Women compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics

  • Trampolining induced into the Olympic games in the year 2000

  • The FIG – Federation of International Gymnastics is the oldest sports organization in the world

  • There’s no more perfect 10 in Gymnastics

  • Gymnastics age restrictions are not clear

  • The 1st Gymnasts practiced nude

  • Women’s Gymnastics was introduced at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

  • The 1st perfect 10s in gymnastics were in 1976

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  1. Thanks for explaining how some of the most basic gymnastics equipment are used. I’d like to look for gymnastic training mat systems because I plan to practice gymnastics in my home. As such, it would be very important to make sure that I could do that as safely as possible.


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