Gymnastics is a challenging and competitive sport that requires a mixture of knowledge, balance, flexibility and physical strength to compete successfully. To build these qualities, gymnasts practice varying levels of skills, which either build toward more difficult maneuvers or can be combined to create gymnastic routines during competition.
The floor is where gymnast start out, learning basic skills that develop balance and strength toward bigger and more complicated movements. Floor gymnastic skills start with basics like cartwheels, rolls and handstands, and progressively get harder, with handsprings, planches and Arabians. Skills can be performed on a basic mat or a spring floor, depending on the skill level and competition.
The beam is an apparatus approximately 124 cm high, 500 cm long and 10 cm wide. Most skills on the beam consist of balancing, dance elements, hops, jumps, acrobatic skills and dismounts. Beginning gymnasts start with basic beam skills such as step kicks and forward rolls, and progress toward cartwheels, handsprings and tucks. As you can see, developing basic skills on the floor mat comes in handy when transitioning to the beam.
Another set of apparatuses involved in gymnastic skills are bars, including the uneven bars, parallel bars and horizontal bars. Women develop skills like the stride circle or tap swing and work toward more difficult skills such as the piked Jager, Geinger or Tkatchev. Men develop skills in the parallel and horizontal bars, starting with skills like the basket swing or turns and develop toward skills like the straddle back to handstand or piked Jager.
Vault skills are performed by propelling off a gymnastics apparatus called a vaulting table. Gymnasts begin with basic vault skills like handstands or straddles, and work toward more complicated skills, such as Xio Junfeng or Yeo 2. Just as important as the skills off the vaulting table is the landing, which requires the development of awareness, body center and balance to stick the landing.