Artistic gymnastics is a discipline where male and female gymnasts perform short routines (30 to 90seconds) on different apparatus. The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition.
- A typical pommel horse exercise involves both single leg and double leg work. Single leg skills are generally found in the form of scissors, an element often done on the pommels. Double leg work however, is the main staple of this event. The gymnast swings both legs in a circular motion (clockwise or counterclockwise depending on preference) and performs such skills on all parts of the apparatus. To make the exercise more challenging, gymnasts will often include variations on a typical circling skill by turning (moores and spindles) or by straddling their legs (Flares). Routines end when the gymnast performs a dismount, either by swinging his body over the horse, or landing after a handstand.
- Still rings is a very physically demanding event. The rings are suspended on wire cable from a point 5.8 meters off the floor, and adjusted in height so the gymnast has room to hang freely and swing. He must perform a routine demonstrating balance, strength, power, and dynamic motion while preventing the rings themselves from swinging. At least one static strength move is required, but some gymnasts may include two or three. A routine have to begin with an impressive mount and end with an impressive dismount.
- Parallel bars
- Men perform on two bars slightly further than a shoulder’s width apart and usually 1.75m high while doing a series of swings, balances, and releases that require great strength and coordination.
- High bar
- A 2.4 cm thick steel bar raised 2.5 m above the landing area is all the gymnast has to hold onto as he performs giants(revolutions around the bar), release skills, twists, and changes of direction. By using all of the momentum from giants and then releasing at the proper point, enough height can be achieved for spectacular dismounts, such as a triple-back salto. Leather grips are usually used to help maintain a grip on the bar.
- On the uneven bars the gymnast navigates two horizontal bars set at different pre-set heights yet alterable widths. Gymnasts perform swinging, circling, transitional, and release moves — as well as moves that pass through the handstand. The most common way to mount these bars is by jumping towards the lower bar first.
- Higher level gymnasts usually wear leather grips to ensure a grip is maintained on the bars while protecting hands from painful blisters and tears. Gymnasts may apply chalk to their grips and bars to prevent the hands from slipping.
- Balance beam
- The gymnast performs a choreographed routine (70 to 90 seconds) consisting of leaps, acrobatic skills, turns and dance elements on a padded spring beam. Apparatus norms set by the International Gymnastics Federation specify the beam must be 125 cm (4′) high, 500 cm (16′) long, and 10 cm (3.9″) wide. The event requires spectacular balance, flexibility and strength.
Artistic gymnasts compete only with other gymnasts in their level or grade. Gymnasts start at the lowest level of competition and advance to higher levels or grades by learning gymnastics skills and achieving qualifying scores at competitions.
Levels range from 1 to 10, then junior elite and senior elite. Levels 1–3 are usually considered recreational, or beginner; 4–7 intermediate, and 8–Elite advanced. Competitions begin at level 4 and in some gyms, level 3. Levels 1–3 are basic skills, such as handstands, cartwheels, etc. 4–6 are compulsory levels, and 7 is an in-between level, with strict requirements but still allowing the gymnast to add in their own creativity.