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.
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.
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.
The next step from Xcel Platinum is Xcel Diamond. Xcel Diamond is the highest level in the Xcel program. While that is the highest level, each gymnast has an opportunity to keep growing their skills and adding more complex gymnastics into their routines. This is based on coach recommendation; factors include maturity, skills, the commitment and goals of the athlete and their support network, and ultimately what is in the best interest of each individual gymnast. It is not unusual for athletes to continue with the same team for multiple seasons.
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