Types of Gymnastics
Los Angeles School of Gymnastics has been providing Olympic-level facilities and training for athletes in Los Angeles County for over 40 years. We’ve sent young gymnasts to the Olympic Games and numerous alumni have achieved international ranking. However, a journey of a thousand miles begins with that vital first step. If you or your child is interested in taking up gymnastics, we can provide more information on the sport and where you might like to focus your interest initially.
The Six Types of Gymnastics
Gymnastics is a complex combination of different proficiencies. Physical strength, flexibility, power, agility, coordination, grace, balance, and control are all attributes vital to excellence in gymnastics. This highly demanding suite of traits contributes to why, pound for pound, gymnasts are the strongest professional athletes in the world. Harnessing these traits, gymnasts compete in six different types of gymnastics.
The first, most popular, and most widely-practiced, is artistic gymnastics. This is the form you probably imagine when you think of gymnastics. This type is divided into men’s and women’s gymnastics. The two share only two events: vault and floor exercise. Only women compete in uneven bars and balance beam, while only men compete in pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars, and high bar. The sport revolves around the use of these various gymnastic apparatus, as well as using the floor for different exercises.
Rhythmic gymnastics is increasing in popularity. The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), gymnastics’ international regulator, formalized the discipline in 1961, after the Soviet Union began competitive rhythmic gymnastics events in the 1940s. Rhythmic gymnastics involves athletes manipulating one or two pieces of apparatus to emphasize grace and flexibility. Rope, hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon are the five types of apparatus used. Women’s rhythmic gymnastics has been an Olympic event since 1984. Men’s rhythmic gymnastics is still seeking recognition by FIG, though there are many male gymnasts who practice and compete in it. It is most popular in Japan.
Trampolining and tumbling are another category of gymnastics. In gymnastics, trampolining is about performing a sequence of aerial skills. It was formally recognized as a FIG discipline in 1999, and included in the Olympic games since 2000. Tumbling involves a dynamic series of flips and twists down a tumbling track. It was featured in the men’s artistic gymnastics event in the 1932 Olympics, but now are folded into trampoline as one of the four events. The other three are individual trampoline, synchronized trampoline (same as individual but with a partner), and double-mini, which involves a run-up, a smaller trampoline, and only two moves per routine.
Acrobatic gymnastics is also known as ‘acro’ and formerly known as sport acrobatics. It’s a group gymnastic discipline for men and women. Operating together, small groups perform floor routines. There are five events: women’s pairs, men’s pairs, mixed pairs, women’s group of 3, and men’s group of 4.
Aerobic gymnastics (formerly sport aerobics) is another gymnastic discipline. It involves a greater emphasis on strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness than acrobatic or balance skills. Events include individual women and men, mixed pairs, trios, groups, dance, and step.
Parkour is the most recent gymnastic discipline to be recognized by FIG. The first Parkour World Championships will be held in 2020. Parkour involves resourceful, fast, and fluid movement. The two current events are speedrun and freestyle.
Los Angeles School of Gymnastics offers classes in all the above types of gymnastics, as well as cheer, which draws on certain acrobatic gymnastic techniques. We understand that beginners may have other questions about gymnastics, so we have tried to offer a variety of answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What is a Gymnastics Routine?
A gymnastics routine refers to a combination of stunts displaying a full range of skills on one apparatus. Routines generally have to abide by a time limit and are scored by a code of points. For some events, music is played during routines. Depending on the competitive level of the gymnast, they may be able to choose their own music to accompany their routine.
What is the Most Important Gymnastics Position?
It’s not a glamorous or exciting answer, but probably the most important position to master is the straight stand. Also known as the straight body position, it is ubiquitous across disciplines. A textbook straight stand will feature arms straight and by the ears, core tight, hips tucked under, and bottom squeezed.
What are Common Jumps in Gymnastics?
There are several basic jumps that get repeated in gymnastics. A tuck jump is the most straightforward: knees up, arms raised and straight. There are variations on the tuck jump that a beginning gymnast will learn as they progress. They will be useful on bars and vault. A straddle jump is another type of beginner jump. In a straddle jump legs part wide, and arms stretch out so that the hands can grip the feet. It requires a certain level of flexibility, necessitating training to reach that point. It’s incorporated in the level 4 routine and follows you all the way to being an advanced gymnast. Straddle jumps can be used on beams. The pike jump is used early in a gymnast’s career as well. It’s used in floor and beam, like a tuck. In a pike jump, the gymnast places arms and legs straight forward, though they do not meet as they do in a straddle jump. A split jump is another level 1 technique used in floor and beam. This is, as you might expect, another technique that requires a certain level of flexibility. One leg is stretched out straight in front, the other stretched out straight behind. One arm is out pointed forward, while the other is out to the side. This jump requires a little coordination as well as flexibility.
What Do I Need for Gymnastics Classes?
Girls typically wear leotards for gymnastics classes. Boys wear shorts and a t-shirt. Avoid clothing with buckles, snaps, zippers, or anything that can catch on gym apparatus. Long hair should also be pulled back. Gymnasts practice barefoot: no shoes or socks.
How Do I Progress to the Next Gymnastics Level?
In the JO program, when you are between levels 1 and 4, advancing is up to your coach. Progressing after that requires you to earn a minimum score to pass to the next level. Your coach will also need to be confident you have the strength and form to cope with the requirements of the next level.
I’m Scared of Trying a New Skill, What Should I Do?
Fear is a natural response to attempting something new. Especially in gymnastics, when you are pushing your body to its physical limits, you can struggle with mental blocks. However, repetition reduces the fear associated with an experience. Practice your existing skills that the new skill is based upon until your brain is assured that you know what you’re doing.
Los Angeles School of Gymnastics Can Help You Start Your Journey
You may be an adult looking for a workout to improve your flexibility and strength, or a parent looking for an activity for your child. There’s no wrong age or way to come to gymnastics, and it offers wonderful advantages to everyone who participates. We welcome beginners regardless of fitness levels, and offer an environment very different to the standard gym experience. There are adult classes six days a week. We also provide beginner classes for boys and girls that emphasize strength and flexibility, as well as training to use apparatus such as the bars, beam, and vault. Classes are carefully constructed to give your child a safe and proper training experience that can be fun while minimizing risk of injury.