In our article “What is gymnastics?” we had highlighted that the gymnastics differed by the apparatus used for each of the disciplines. Apparatus, remember, are devices, or platforms, that athletes use to perform movements. Depending on the difficulty induced by the apparatus in question, the athlete will not develop the same physical qualities. To know : agility, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.
Let’s review the different tackles and their features.
It is none other than a wooden floor covered with a carpet of foam and carpet. This apparatus is common to women’s and men’s artistic gymnastics, and somehow corresponds to the signature of artistic gymnastics. Athletes must perform, to music, acrobatics, dance, taking advantage of the entire surface on the ground and… in the air! We all know a famous sequence which consists in carrying out a series of jumps and acrobatics, by traversing several times the diagonal of the ground.
Once again, this apparatus is found in both women’s and men’s artistic gymnastics. After taking a 25-meter run-up, the athlete leans on a springboard, puts both hands on the vault and performs acrobatics in the air before having to ensure the most stable possible landing. On this apparatus are judged the quality of the jump and its complexity, its reception, which is intended to be as stable as possible, and of course the elegance, called “the holding of the body”.
Reserved for women’s artistic gymnastics, the asymmetrical bars, two in number, are arranged at different heights: 2.40m and 1.60m. The gap between the two bars is adjustable and depends on the height of the gymnast. The objective of this apparatus is to judge the ability of athletes to perform jumps, half-turns, somersaults, turns, all ending with a jump accompanied by acrobatics where again, reception is paramount because stability is judged. A few rules remain and the athletes are not totally free. For example, they cannot perform more than 4 tricks on the same bar.
To conclude with the apparatus of women’s artistic gymnastics, the balance beam. Measuring 5m long, 10cm thick and 1.20m high, the balance beam is the ultimate exercise for judging gymnasts’ balance. Balance, flexibility, agility, grace, creativity, rhythm, are the keys to mastering this apparatus. Athletes generally cover 4 to 5 lengths while performing a choreography to music.
Specific to men’s artistic gymnastics, the rings represent the ultimate strength exercise. Suspended 2.75m from the ground and 50cm apart from each other, the wooden rings allow the athlete to perform many acrobatics, including the iron cross, where each must be held for at least 2 seconds. The greatest difficulty, beyond the strength required for the movements, is the desired stability of the rings. These should not swing.
THE PULL HORSE
The pommel horse is an apparatus measuring 1.60m long and 1.50m high. The two pommels placed at a height varying from 40 to 45cm allow the gymnast to perform circular movements without interruption, resting either on the pommels or even on the horse. Throughout the “choreography”, the gymnast is only supported on the hands. At the end of his performance, the athlete’s final jump is, once again, judged on stability during the landing.
THE HIGH BAR
It is undoubtedly the most impressive apparatus. Arranged 2.75m from the ground and measuring 2.40m, the gymnast must perform a series of 11 figures including bar drops, turns, U-turns, and finally, a spectacular acrobatic dismount.
To conclude this article, we will talk about parallel bars. Both are 3.50m long and are placed at a height of 2.75m. The gymnast must perform acrobatics by passing above or below the bars, located 42 or 52 cm apart. This distance varies according to the height of the athlete. The series of figures chosen by the athlete ends with an exit at the end of the bar or on the side and requires, once again, concentration in order to master the landing during landing.