Guide to Gymnastics

At Spokane Gymnastics, the coaches focus on encouraging the development of strength, skill and character through gymnastics training in a positive environment. We strive to offer a program where every student has the greatest opportunity to succeed, no matter what their level or goal.

We strive to balance teaching proper gymnastics skills, terminology and progressions in a fun environment where students are taught by breaking down the elements of the particular skills, hands-on “spotting” and training, low student-to-coach ratios and positive reinforcement. We believe that gymnastics is not only one of the most rewarding sports with unlimited benefits to other activities, but also FUN!

Gymnastics not only increases strength, flexibility and balance, it is also encourages hard work, discipline and determination.

Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

There are four events in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics – Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise. Although most sports have seasons, gymnastics is a year-round commitment for athletes at the upper levels.


A successful vault begins with a strong, accelerated run. The best vaulters explode off the springboard with tremendous quickness during the pre-flight phase of the vault. When the gymnast pushes off of the vault table (also informally referred to as the horse) judges look for proper body position and instantaneous propulsion and explosive force. They watch the height and distance traveled as well as the number of flips and twists. Gymnasts strive to stick their landing by taking no extra steps.

Uneven Bars

Many consider the uneven bars the most spectacular of women’s events, since to be successful the gymnasts must display strength as well as concentration, courage, coordination and split-second timing. Keep an eye out for the big swings that begin in handstands on the high bar, incorporating multiple hand changes, pirouettes and release elements. The entire routine should flow from one skill to the next, without pauses, extra swings or additional supports. Also, watch for the high-flying dismount where the gymnast will attempt to stick her landing.

Balance Beam

The beam is only four-inches wide and considered the most difficult event by many gymnasts. The gymnasts must use acrobatic, tumbling, and dance movements in her routine. Watch for acrobatic series consisting of two or more elements performed in a row. The overall execution should give the impression that the gymnast is performing on the floor, and not on a beam. Spectators witness variations in rhythm, changes in level, and the harmonious blend of dance and acrobatic elements.


Usually a favorite event of the fans, the floor routine must be choreographed to music and cover the entire 40’x40′ floor area. The gymnast must use a variety of dance and tumbling elements which reflect her personality. Most gymnasts at the international level will do four tumbling passes, changing both the direction and level of movement throughout the routine.

Men’s Gymnastics

There are six events in Men’s Gymnastics; Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar. This discipline requires an incredible amount of strength and power.


Floor routines consist of dynamic tumbling skills. The best gymnasts will incorporate tumbling passes with multiple twists and flips, both forward and backward, throughout the routine. A gymnasts must show power and control on this event.

Pommel Horse

Considered by many to be the most difficult of the men’s events, the pommel horse is also the most subtle. Each move is defined by complex hand placements. The gymnast must perform continuous circular movements interrupted only by the required scissor elements. The entire routine should flow with controlled rhythm. A gymnasts must show precise timing and balance throughout the routine.

Still Rings

Of all the men’s events, rings are the least stable, therefore requiring the greatest amount of strength. Just as it’s name suggests, the rings must be kept still while the gymnast is performing. There are two types of moves on the rings; strength positions and swing movements. Those with the best command of the event will display extraordinary skill in arriving at all holds with absolute precision.


Each vault is categorized in the Federation of International Gymnastic’s “Code of Points”, the official rule book giving the relevant value of each skill performed. A good vault is sometimes described as a “big vault”. The height, distance traveled, the overall acceleration into the vault and sudden impact of a no-step “stuck” landing all create a good impression for the judges.

Parallel Bars

A parallel bar routine consists of predominately swing and flight elements. Gymnast execute swing elements and skills in which both hands release and re-grasp the bars. Some gymnasts move outside the two rails, performing handstands and kips on only one bar. Like the other events, a powerful dismount and stuck landing are very important.

Horizontal Bars

This event is also known as the “high bar”, and routines consist exclusively of swing parts without stops. The parts are generally called “giant” swings with more specific terms applying to changes in grip, direction and body position. Skilled gymnasts also execute release moves. Look for high-flying dismounts with multiple flips and twists. As with all the other events, the gymnasts aims to land the dismount without extra steps.

Spokane Gymnastics Xcel Program

Xcel is an alternative USA Gymnastics competitive program offering individual flexibility to coaches and gymnasts. The goal of Xcel is to provide gymnasts of varying abilities and commitment levels, the opportunity for a rewarding and ongoing gymnastics experience.

Xcel levels include: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond

Spokane Gymnastics Trampoline and Tumbling Team

Trampoline and Tumbling includes four events within its program; Trampoline, Power Tumbling, Synchronized Trampoline, and Double Mini Trampoline. Both men and women participate in the four events. Some gymnasts choose to focus on just one area of expertise, while other gymnasts participate in all four events. Trampoline made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Games.

Spokane Gymnastics Developmental Program Compulsory

Each child competes the same exact routines on each apparatus and uses the same floor routine music, created by USA Gymnastics. The Developmental Program consists of competitive levels 2-10. Beyond level 10 is elite gymnastics. The main differences between Compulsory and Xcel is the amount of structure. In Xcel, each gymnast performs an individualized routine with instrumental music that they have chosen as long as it meets the time requirements. The skills competed are chosen by the coach and gymnast based on their strengths and the requirements of each level. In compulsory, music and routines are set for quadrennial (four-year period) through level 6. Level 7 through 10 are the optional segment of the gymnastics levels and the gymnast performs her own choreography at these levels. Officials categorize skills and rate them according to difficulty using a letter system, where A is the easiest skill and E is the most difficult.

Additional Gymnastics Disciplines

Rhythmic Gymnastics – routines are choreographed to music and are performed on the floor. Gymnasts include body elements involving dance, combined with the angling of small equipment involving a rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon, of which only four of the apparatus are competed each quad. The choreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balanced choice of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements.

Acrobatic gymnastics – combines dance, gymnastics skills and synchronization. Engaging choreography and brilliant attire are also part of the sport. There are five events incorporated within the acrobatic discipline. The events are women’s pair, men’s pair, mixed pair, women’s group (3) and men’s group (4). Each pair/group performs routines featuring gymnastics tumbling skills and partner balances. Balancing skills highlight the athlete’s strength and flexibility through pyramids and static positions at the top. Dynamic skills involve somersaults and twisting with landings on the floor or catches by the bottom partner. Routines are performed on the same spring floor that artistic gymnasts use to perform floor routines. Athletes of varying heights, weights and body types are needed for acrobatic gymnastics. Smaller, more flexible athletes are needed as tops, while taller and stronger athletes are ideal for base positions.

Parkour – the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. It is a physical discipline of French origin in which participants run along a route, attempting to negotiate obstacles in the most efficient way possible. Skills such as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves are employed. The goal of a practitioner of parkour is to get from one place to another using only the human body and the objects in the environment. The obstacles can be anything in one’s environment, such as buildings and rails. Several coaches at Spokane Gymnastics are Parkour Level 1 and 2 Certified through the World Parkour and Free-running Federation.

Spokane Gymnastics offers instructional gymnastics, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, Men’s Gymnastics, Tumbling and Trampoline, and Parkour Gymnastics. Individual coaches are available to teach Acrobatic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Cheer.