Gymnastic Apparatus: Physical Constraints on Movement

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The basic gymnastic apparatus is the floor: movement is limited by contact with the horizontal surface. A gymnast has a diverse range of movement or skills to choose from to demonstrate his or her abilities on the floor, or above it.

The Handstand

All gymnasts learn how to do a handstand, as it forms the basis for moving into other skills. These can be static, as in leg movements into splits while in handstand, or dynamic in individual elements which together form a tumble pass.

A handstand is also an essential element for all higher level routines on bars. For females, the uneven bars require the skill and handstands are also shown on the balance beam. For males, this is on the parallel bars and high bar as well as rings and to dismount from the pommel horse.

Gymnastic Apparatus: Physical Constraints on Movement - A handstand performed on rings demonstrates balance and control.
A handstand performed on rings demonstrates balance and control.

Safe Landing

The most essential skill learned on the floor is a ‘safe landing’, where the arms are lowered at the end of a movement before being moved into a controlled sweep to parallel in front of the gymnast at chest height, with knees slightly flexed or bent. This movement is critical to help prevent injury at the end of any dynamic movement, especially on landing from the vault.

Gymnastic Apparatus: Physical Constraints on Movement - A safe landing demonstrated on the dismount from vault.
A safe landing demonstrated on the dismount from vault.

The floor is where every gymnastics routine starts, and hopefully where every routine safely finishes.