Gymnastics Glossary

Everything you need to know so you don't feel left out of conversations at your childs Gymnastics club



A type of cartwheel where a gymnast’s hands do not touch the ground.

Aerial twist

an acrobatic flip that incorporates a 180° rotation during the peak of the flip’s height.


A term in which a singular athlete competes (and scored in) on all four (women) or six (men) apparatus in a single continuous meet. This can be qualified individually as part of, or simultaneously during, a team competition, and/or in a completely separate singular continuous event termed ‘Individual All-Around Finals’.


The height or degree of execution of a movement. In general, the higher the salto or the more breathtaking the movement, the better the amplitude and the score.


Specific equipment used in gymnastics.


Type of salto that starts out with a backward entry into a half twist that begins immediately after takeoff, and then continues into a front flip.


Standing on one leg with the other leg raised about 45 degrees

Arch Position

The body is curved backwards.



Under the current Code of Points, this score rates the gymnast’s execution, form, artistry and technique. The judges take their deductions from the 10.0 base score.

Back-In, Full-Out

A double salto with a full twist (the complete twist performed during the second salto).

Back-to-back tumbling

A series of skills in which the gymnast executes a tumbling pass from one corner of the mat to the other, rebounds, and performs another tumbling pass in the other direction without stopping. Notably performed by Oksana Omelianchik (URS), Daniela Silivaş (ROU) and Dominique Dawes (USA).


One of the three routines in acrobatic gymnastics, highlighted by static hold positions that demonstrate strength, agility and flexibility.

Balance beam

A gymnastics apparatus used by women in artistic gymnastics. It is a 4-inch-wide (100 mm) platform upon which gymnasts perform tumbling and dance skills.


A gymnastics apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics. The ball rests in the gymnast’s hands, is balanced on the body, and is thrown into the air and caught.


In acrobatic gymnastics, the role in pair and group competition that requires strength and balance. The base is usually an older, larger athlete.


The scoring abbreviation for balance beam.

Blind Landing

When a gymnast performs a skill and doesn’t see the ground before he or she lands. Skills that are blind landings include front flips, back half and one and a half twists and front full twists—essentially where the gymnast takes off facing one direction and lands facing the same direction.



The manoeuvre where one moves sideways, from hands to feet, in a straight line (in the motion that the wheel of a cart would follow), while keeping the back, arms, and legs straight, and the feet pointed.


This skill to bend the back. It is also called a chin stand.


Carbonate of magnesia, used by gymnasts on their hands, feet and apparatus to make the surface of the equipment less slippery, or to mark lines on the mats.


A full circle with the legs together and both hands supporting the gymnast. One of the three basic swings on the Pommel Horse.


A gymnastics apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics.

Code of Points

The document that regulates scoring of each discipline.


Presented only during acrobatic gymnastics finals, the Combined routine features the elements of both the Balance and the Dynamic (Tempo) routines.


Performance in front of a judge which the judge will then score and give points.


The structure of a gymnastics routine. Each individual movement or skill is a building block; the arrangement of the moves in the exercise is called the composition of the routine.



Points taken off a gymnast’s score for errors. Most deductions are pre-determined, such as a 0.8 deduction for a fall from an apparatus or a 0.1 deduction for stepping out of bounds on the floor exercise.


Swing forward with 1/1 (360°) turn on one arm to handstand on parallel bars. Named after Sergey Diomidov.


The act of getting off an apparatus and the skill used to do it.


One of the three routines in acrobatic gymnastics, combining choreography with tumbling sequences and flight elements like throws.

Dive Roll

Transitioning from handstand into forward roll.



Abbreviation for element group requirements.

Element group requirements

Under the current Code of Points, the specific required skills, or skill families, a gymnast must show at some point in his or her routine on each event. For instance, on uneven bars, one of the EGRs is a release move. Currently, five EGR skills are required on every event.


The highest competitive level in gymnastics, or a gymnast who competes at the highest level. The term is used in the US, Australia, and some other nations, but is not universal.

Elementary gymnastics

The type of gymnastics that older gymnasts in training use. It helps them to understand the elements and way of gymnastics.

Elbow stand

An inverted pose in which the body is supported on only forearms.\ energy


The performance of a routine. Form, style, and technique used to complete the skills constitute the level of execution of an exercise. Bent knees, poor toe point and an arched or loosely-held body position are all examples of poor execution.


Flight series

On balance beam, a series of acrobatic skills performed in combination from one end of the beam to the other.


A sequence of body movements in which a person leaps into the air and then rotates one or more times while airborne


A gymnastics apparatus used by men and women in artistic gymnastics. The event performed upon this apparatus is known as Floor Exercise.

Floor exercise

The event performed on the floor apparatus. Men and women perform choreographed routines that include tumbling and acrobatic skills.

Freestyle gymnastics

A fusion of traditional gymnastic and acrobatic tricks, with kicks and leaps inspired by martial arts, parkour and free running. It captures the power and explosive nature of freestyle activities in sport and brings them indoors, performed on a range of purpose built equipment with associated training techniques.[1]

Front handspring

A gymnastics move in which the gymnast takes a running start, then places their hands as if a handstand. They kick one leg over, push off the ground, and come back up.

Front tuck

The act of running, jumping off of 2 feet, turning in mid-air, and landing on the ground on two feet.


The scoring abbreviation for floor exercise.


A flip that turns fully in mid air.



A gymnastics skill in which a gymnast performs a backwards flip while moving forward.


A glove or wrist strap worn by gymnasts to protect the skin on their hands when they perform upon apparatuses.


When casting into a handstand position and making a full rotation around the bar while the body is kept in a straight line.

Good leg split

A split with the gymnast’s stronger leg forward.



The scoring abbreviation for horizontal (or high) bar.


Springing off the hands by putting the weight on the arms and using a strong push from the shoulders; can be done either forward or backward; usually a linking movement.


To stand inverted straight up with squeezed vertical body tension, with hands as a base support on floor.


To perform a routine or skill to the best of one’s ability, with no major errors or deductions. Example: “He hit the dismount.”: May also be used as an adjective to describe a routine performed well.


A gymnastics apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics. It is a hollow hoop with an interior diameter of 80 to 90 cm.

Horizontal bar

A gymnastics apparatus used by men in artistic gymnasts. It consists of one 2.4m bar upon which gymnasts perform skills. It is also known as high bar.



A world-class/elite gymnast who is too young to compete as a senior, usually between the ages of 13 and 15.


Trained professionals who judge gymnasts on their skills on each apparatus.


A straight, tucked, piked, straddle or split jump



A basic skill in artistic gymnastics on the uneven bars that is used at a way of getting on the bar in a front support position or a handstand from a hanging or standing position.


A full-twisting Kovacs with two back somersaults and one full twist over the bar, after Alojz Kolman (Slovenia).


From side support on end – flair or circle to handstand and travel 3/3 with 5/4 (450°) or more turn. Named after Alexander Kolyvanov.


Double salto backward over the bar. Named after Péter Kovács (see article for execution



A position in which the gymnast’s body is completely stretched, toes pointed and legs straight. A layout in tumbling, vault, or balance beam is a salto performed in this position. In some countries, layout saltos are referred to as “straights” (e.g., “he performed a double straight”).


A piece of clothing that comes in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, and is used for gymnastics workouts and competitions.



A strength move pressing with the hands where the legs and hips are raised until the hips are above the shoulders and the legs are parallel to the floor.[2]


Safety equipment used in gymnastics to break falls.


A commonly used term for a gymnastics competition.


In acrobatic gymnastics, the role in group competition that requires a combination of strength, balance, flexibility and power.


The act of getting onto an apparatus and the skill used to do it.



Neutral deduction

A score deduction which is taken as a penalty for violations of rules not related directly to the gymnasts’ performance, for instance, failure to adhere to required standards of competition attire. Neutral deductions may be applied against a team’s cumulative score as well as against individual gymnasts.


To put two hands on the floor and one leg on the floor, then kick the other leg into a full split.

No handed forward roll

very self explanatory



Abbreviation for out of bounds.

Out of bounds

Situation on floor exercise or Vault (gymnastics) when a gymnast crosses the line indicating the border of the mat, resulting in a score deduction.


A backhandspring with a half turn mid air, in which a gymnast finishes with a front walkover.

One-handed cartwheel

A regular cartwheel is performed, but one hand is placed and kept behind the back.


Parallel bars

A gymnastics apparatus used by men in artistic gymnastics. It consists of two 3.5m bars.


The scoring abbreviation for the parallel bars.


The scoring abbreviation for the pommel horse.

Pike Position

Body bent forward more than 90 degrees at the hips while the legs are kept straight.


Changing direction or moving in a circular motion by twisting in the handstand position.

Pommel horse

A gymnastics apparatus used by men in artistic gymnastics. It consists of a rectangular body and two pommels.


Movement of the body

Press hand stand

the gymnasts starts on the floor in a straddle then pushes all her body weight onto her hands and presses into a handstand.


a move on bars in which the gymnast starts off the bar, then uses her are strength to pull herself up and over the bar.


Release move or release

Skill on the uneven bars, parallel bars or high bar in which the gymnast lets go of the apparatus, performs a skill in the air, and regrasps the bar.


A gymnastics apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics. The ribbon is a long piece of material attached to a stick.


A move similar to a cartwheel where the gymnast pushes off the ground and lands on two feet, facing the direction in which the move was initiated in. This move is often used to initiate a tumble.


A roll is a rotation over an axis in the body over a surface.


A gymnastics apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics. It is made of a material that retains the qualities of lightness and suppleness. It is knotted at the end.


A combination of stunts displaying a full range of skills on one apparatus.

Rhythmic gymnastics

A discipline of gymnastics in which competitors manipulate apparatuses. The sport combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation. Athletes are scored on their leaps, balances, pivots, flexibility, apparatus handling, and artistic effect.



Flip or somersault, with the feet coming up over the head and the body rotating around the axis of the waist.

Salute: A movement a gymnast does toward the judges before and after a routine. Girls typically raise both arms straight up near their ears in a Y shape while boys raise one arm.


A combination requirement in a competitive routine on the pommel horse, which combines cuts and undercuts. It begins in a stride support and ends in an opposite stride support.

Scoring: How a routine is evaluated. Scores are given out by judges and range from 0 to 10, with a 10.0 being a perfect score. In levels 1-10, scores start from a 10.0 and deductions as small as half a tenth or as large as one whole point—depending on the severity of the error—are then taken from the total.

Score protest

A written complaint, submitted by the gymnast or their coaches or federation, to request reconsideration and possible revision of scores felt to be incorrect or unfair. Under FIG rules, protests must be filed immediately after the original score is reported, and before the end of the competition.


A world-class/elite gymnast who is at least 16, or will be turning 16, within the calendar year.


Two or more positions or skills which are performed together creating a different skill or activity.


The elements performed in a routine, such as a cartwheel, handstand or back handspring.


A gymnastics manoeuvre in which a person rotates around the somersault axis, moving the feet over the head.


A gymnast who is especially strong on one or two events. A specialist often competes only on his or her specific events.


The wooden wedge-shaped object that sits on the ground in front of the vault. The board consists of two sections of wood with anywhere from three to seven springs in between and covered by leather, thin carpet or basketball material on top. When vaulting, gymnasts will run down the runway, jump on the springboard and propel themselves onto the vault, flipping off the table. Gymnasts can also use the springboard to mount bars or beam.

Start value

Under the pre-2006 Code of Points, the maximum score a gymnast could receive for a routine, after taking into consideration all bonus skills, combinations and fulfilment of required elements. The score was determined by subtracting deductions from the start value.


To land an acrobatic skill, jump, or dismount perfectly, without any steps, stumbles or errors.

Still rings

A gymnastics apparatus used by men in artistic gymnastics. It consists of two swinging hollow rings suspended by a frame.


A sitting position with the legs wide. It can also be performed at height.

Stuck landing

A perfect landing, without any steps, stumbles or errors.


You go to the ground with one leg in front of you and one behind you


Team final, or TF

A team of 6 gymnasts (or 5 gymnasts at the 2012 London Olympics), representing a country, for the team competition.


Swing forward and vault backward piked to hang. Named after Aleksandr Tkachyov.


In acrobatic gymnastics, the role in pair and group competition that emphasizes flexibility and agility. The top is usually a younger, smaller athlete.


A vault and family of vaults. The vault consists of a half turn off the springboard onto the vault table, then a push backwards, usually into a back salto or layout. Any vault that has a handspring with ¼ – ½ turn onto the vault table into a salto backwards is classified as a Tsukahara vault. It is named after Mitsuo Tsukahara.


The acrobatic skills performed on floor exercise and balance beam, such as back handsprings and saltos. Also, a specific discipline of gymnastics, performed on a 25-meter-long dynamic track, in which participants perform tumbling skills.

Tumbling run, or tumbling pass

A series of acrobatic skills performed on floor from one corner of the mat to the other, typically beginning with a run and hurtle and ending with a major salto.


A jump with knees to chest.


A layout with axial body rotation in addition to the fundamental rotation about the waist



A gymnastics apparatus used by both men and women in artistic gymnastics, or the skills performed upon it, which consists of a . : To perform a vaulting skill.


The artistry, or the degree of rhythm and harmony, displayed while a movement is executed. In general, the more flowing and seamless a series of skills appears to be, the greater the virtuosity and the higher the score.


Back uprise and piked vault with 1/2 (180°) turn to hang. Named after Mikhail Voronin.


The scoring abbreviation for “vault”.



The period and techniques that aim to warm up the gymnasts muscles in order for them not to injure themselves while stretching or training.


Handstand in to a roll Go in to a handstand then tuck your chin and arch your back


Yurchenko loop

A balance beam skill in which the gymnasts stands sideways on the beam, dives backwards into a back handspring (the “loop”), grasps the beam, performs a back hip circle and ends up in a front support position, resting on the hands. It is named after Natalia Yurchenko.

Yurchenko vault

A vault and a family of vaults. It consists of a round-off onto the springboard and a back handspring onto the horse or vaulting table, followed by a salto. Any vault with a roundoff-back handspring entry is classified as a “Yurchenko-style” vault. It is named after Natalia Yurchenko.

Phew! that's quite a list! Do you think we've missed anything?