Get to know the apparatus

Gymnastics is all about mastering six pieces of apparatus (for men) or four pieces (for women), each one different to the next. The men require a combination of strength, mobility and coordination, while women have to show a combination of daring skills, flexibility and expressive choreography. A good gymnast has to be outstanding at all apparatus, keeping everyone challenged!

Floor Exercise (men and women)

The floor exercise routine takes place on a rectangular mat measuring 12 x 12 meters (39.37x39.37 ft). During an exercise all corners have to be used. One of the most captivating aspects of the floor exercise is the breathtaking tumbling sequences. Athletes execute flips, twists, somersaults and aerial maneuvers with astonishing precision and power. The key ingredients of a great floor routine are individuality, originality, creativity and artistry.

Women’s floor routines are performed to music, which may include vocals but no lyrics. A routine consists of a series of tumbling passes, leaps and turns, acrobatic elements and dance movements. For women the routines last 80 to 90 seconds.

The men’s floor routine incorporates movements that showcase their strength, flexibility and balance. For men the routines last between 50 to 70 seconds.

Pommel Horse (men)

The pommel horse is a captivating apparatus in men's artistic gymnastics, known for its elegance and demanding nature. The pommel horse itself is a piece of equipment with a cylindrical body covered in leather and stands about 115 centimeters (45 inches) high. Gymnasts display their exceptional strength, balance, and precision as they move up and down the length of the pommel horse with quick hand placements, utilizing both the handles and the surface of the horse. Key elements of a pommel horse routine include circles and swings, scissor skills, traveling skills, flares and spindles and ends with a dismount.

Still Rings (men)

The two circular rings made of wood or composite material challenge the gymnasts in ways that demand immense upper body strength, balance, and stability. They are suspended from a height of approximately 2.8 meters (9.2 feet). In a still rings routine, gymnasts aim to demonstrate exceptional strength and control while performing a series of dynamic movements and static holds. The routine concludes with a dazzling acrobatic dismount featuring numerous somersaults and twists.

Parallel Bars (men)

The apparatus consists of two bars of 3.5 meters (11.48 ft) long and 2 meters (6.56 ft) high. The gymnasts embark on a routine that seamlessly combines skills both above and below the bars. A typical performance will involve swinging movements, hanging positions and an upper arm position. Each routine typically ends with a dismount involving multiple somersaults and twists.

Vault (men and women)

The vaulting apparatus consists of a springboard placed in front of a vaulting table. The gymnast sprints down the 25 meters (82 ft) runway, using their speed to generate momentum as they approach the vault. The men’s vaulting table is 1.35 meters (4.4 ft) high, while for women it is 10cm (3.9 Inches) lower, but the mechanics and rules are exactly the same.

The moment of takeoff is crucial, as it determines the height, distance, and execution of the skill to be performed. Gymnasts are expected to execute flawless landings, free from any hops or steps, and land precisely between the white lines. Any falling or missteps upon landing result in deductions.

In qualification, team final and all-around gymnasts (both male and female) show one vault. If a gymnast wishes to qualify for vault apparatus finals, they must perform a second vault during qualifications. In the apparatus finals gymnasts must also show two vaults.

Horizontal bar (men)

The horizontal bar, also known as the high bar, is a thrilling and dynamic apparatus in gymnastics. Suspended 2.8 meters (9.18 ft) above the ground, gymnasts let go of the bar, perform swings or twits, and then skillfully regrasp it. The actions should flow seamlessly and fluidly, displaying various hand grips and a range of maneuvers. The routine ends with a dramatic dismount.

Uneven bars (women)

The height of the uneven bars can be modified, with the lower bar typically set at approximately 1.7 meters (5.58 ft) and the higher bar usually positioned at about 2.5 meters (8.2 ft). Additionally, the spacing between the two bars can be customized, with a maximum width of 1.8 meters (5.9 ft). Routines on this apparatus require a continuous swinging motion and must incorporate transitions between the high and low bars. One of the most fascinating aspects of the uneven bars is the release-and-catch elements, where gymnasts perform flips, twists and somersaults.

Balance Beam (women)

The balance beam is a narrow, ten-centimeters-wide (4 inches) and 5 meters (16 ft) long plank elevated just over four feet from the ground. Gymnasts must perform a routine of acrobatic elements, leaps, jumps, turns, and gravity-defying balances. One element must be executed at a low level, and the entire length of the beam must be used. The maximum allowed time for a balance beam routine is 90 seconds.