Gymnastics...How It All Started

Gymnastics is a form of ancient Greek exercise, which combines the agility of physical skills such as body control, coordination, dexterity; with gracefulness, and strength of tumbling and acrobatic skills.Today, gymnastics is performed by both men and women at many levels, in elite national and international competitions.

Modern international competition has six events for men and four events for women. The men's events are the rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar, side or pommel-horse, long or vaulting horse, and floor (or free) exercise. These events emphasize upper body strength and flexibility along with acrobatics.

The women's events are the vaulting horse, balance beam, uneven bars, and floor exercise, which is performed with musical accompaniment. These events combine graceful, dancelike movements with strength and acrobatic skills.

Teams for international competitions are made up of six gymnasts. In the team competition each gymnast performs on every piece of equipment, and the team with the highest number of points wins. There is also a separate competition for the all-around title, which goes to the gymnast with the highest point total after performing on each piece of equipment, and a competition to determine the highest score for each individual apparatus.

Another type of competitive gymnastics for women is called rhythmic gymnastics, in which acrobatic skills are not used. The rhythmic gymnast performs graceful, dancelike movements while holding and moving items such as a ball, hoop, rope, ribbon, or Indian clubs, with musical accompaniment. Routines are performed individually or in group performances for six gymnasts.

Gymnastic competitions are judged and scored on both an individual and a team basis. Each competitor must accomplish a required number of specific types of moves on each piece of equipment. Judges will award points to each participant in each event on a 0-to-10 scale, 10 being perfect. Judging is strictly subjective; however, guidelines are provided for judges so that they can arrive at relatively unbiased scores.

Usually there are four judges, and the highest and lowest scores are dropped to provide a more objective evaluation. Gymnasts try to perform the most difficult routines in the most graceful way, thus impressing the judges with their mastery of the sport.

 

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