When you think of gymnastics, you may picture female gymnasts doing daring flips on the 4-inch-wide beam, or men doing incredible feats of strength on the rings. But those images actually represent only two of the six commonly-defined types of gymnastics. Confused? Here are all six:
Women’s Artistic GymnasticsThis is the most popular and well-known of the types of gymnastics, and one of the most popular Olympic sports.
The Events: In women’s artistic gymnastics, athletes compete on four apparatus (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise).
Competition: Olympic competition is held for:
- Team – Six athletes are on a team. In preliminaries, five athletes compete on an event and four scores count. In finals, three athletes compete and all scores count.
- All-Around -- An athlete competes on all four events and the total score is added up.
- Individual Events – An athlete competes on one of the four apparatus to determine an event champion.
Watch It: U.S. National Champion Shawn Johnson
Men's Artistic GymnasticsThis is the second most popular type in the United States, and the oldest form of gymnastics.
The Events: Men compete on six apparatus: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar (sometimes called horizontal bar).
Competition: Olympic competition is held in a similar format to women’s artistic gymnastics, with team, all-around and individual events competition. The only difference is the men compete across their six events, whereas the women compete across their four events.
Watch It: U.S. National Champion David Durante
Acrobatic GymnasticsAcrobatic gymnastics consists of a 2-4 gymnast team performing handstands, holds and balances on each other, throwing and catching each other, and performing flips in synchronization.
The Events: Acrobatics is always performed on the same floor exercise mat. The events competed are men’s pairs, women’s pairs, mixed pairs, women’s groups (three gymnasts) and men’s groups (four gymnasts).
Competition: Acrobatic gymnastics is not an Olympic event, but is also part of the a href=”http://usa-gymnastics.org/acro/”>U.S. Junior Olympic program and is competed internationally.
Watch It: a href=”http://youtube.com/watch?v=hjgchfBspC0”>A Montage of Acro Gymnastics