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Artistic gymnastics is a sport that combines strength, flexibility, coordination and elegance. It is practised on different apparatuses, such as the floor, the beam, the parallel bars, the rings and the pommel horse.

Each discipline has its own rules and requirements, which are assessed by a panel of experts. The goal, however, is the same: get the highest score.

In this article, we’ll explain everything about Olympic gymnastics, such as its origins, evolution, how the events work and the main competitions.

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What is artistic gymnastics?

Artistic gymnastics is a sport that involves performing choreographed and acrobatic techniques on apparatus.

It is known for its combination of strength, flexibility, agility, motor coordination and, above all, elegance.

Athletes therefore perform a series of movements on apparatus such as parallel bars, rings, horse and asymmetric bars.

Artistic gymnastics is one of the oldest and most popular sports at the Olympics, having been an integral part of the programme since the first modern edition of the Games in Athens in 1896.

Gymnasts compete individually or in teams, and routines are assessed by a panel of judges on the basis of specific criteria, including technical difficulty, execution, composition and expression.

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History of artistic gymnastics

história ginástica artística
History of artistic gymnastics

Artistic gymnastics has a long history dating back to Ancient Greece, where the practice of physical exercise and athletic activities played a significant role in the culture of the local inhabitants.

The Greeks valued harmony between mind and body. Therefore, disciplines such as running, wrestling and gymnastic exercises were an integral part of education.

However, modern artistic gymnastics, as we know it today, originated in the 19th century. Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths, a German educator, is considered the “father of gymnastics” for his contributions to the development of systematic physical exercises and training methods.

Another important contributor was Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, also from Germany, known as “the father of German gymnastics”. He introduced the concept of specific apparatus, such as parallel bars and rings, and founded the first outdoor space dedicated to the practice of gymnastics in 1811.

Artistic gymnastics then began to spread to other European countries and eventually to the rest of the world. The first international gymnastics competitions took place at the end of the 19th century, and the sport has been included in the modern Olympic Games since its first edition.

Over the years, the sport has evolved in terms of techniques, movements and the complexity of the routines. Gymnasts continue to challenge the limits of human ability, performing acrobatics and high-difficulty exercises that impress and captivate audiences all over the world.

Artistic gymnastics rules

At gymnastics championships, competitors perform on the apparatus, which is judged by a panel of judges.

Grades are given according to two criteria: the difficulty of the series and the execution of the movements. In other words: the more complex the series and the more perfect the movements, the higher the athlete’s score.

Points can be deducted from gymnasts if they miss techniques, become unbalanced, fall off the apparatus or disrespect the time limit.

The best in each discipline advance to the final. They then repeat the process one more time to find out who the champion will be.

In the tournaments, the men can take part in six events: floor, vault, pommel horse, rings, fixed bar and parallel bars. The women, on the other hand, take part in the floor, vault, asymmetric bars and balance beam.

Artistic gymnastics apparatus

aparelhos da ginástica
Artistic gymnastics apparatus
  • Floor (male and female)
  • Vault (men and women)
  • Pommel horse (men)
  • Rings (men)
  • Fixed bar (men)
  • Parallel bars (men)
  • Asymmetric bars (women)
  • Balance beam (women)

Floor (male and female)

The floor is an individual performance in which the gymnast performs a series of acrobatics, jumps, spins, choreographies and dance elements in a predetermined sequence. The movements performed on the floor emphasise the gymnast’s strength, flexibility, coordination and artistic expression.

Vault (men and women)

The vault, also known as the vaulting table in artistic gymnastics, is a fundamental component for both male and female gymnasts.

This apparatus consists of a raised platform with a padded box on top of it. Its main function is to provide gymnasts with a base to perform jumps, spins and acrobatics in a controlled manner.

Pommel horse (men)

In men’s gymnastics, the pommel horse event, also known as vaulting, is a discipline that emphasises the gymnasts’ ability to perform acrobatic movements and maintain balance on a horizontal horse equipped with two parallel straps.

Rings (men)

The rings event in men’s gymnastics is a discipline that emphasises the athletes’ strength and control. In this discipline, gymnasts perform a series of acrobatic movements while holding two rings suspended from ropes. These rings, usually made of wood or synthetic material, are adjusted to a specific height.

Fixed bar (men)

The fixed bar, also known as the horizontal bar, is one of the apparatuses used in men’s artistic gymnastics. It is an elevated, horizontal bar, fixed high up, usually at a height that allows the gymnast to perform a series of acrobatic movements, spins, swings and releases.

Parallel bars (men)

The parallel bars are contested in men’s gymnastics. They consist of two horizontal bars parallel to each other and fixed at a specific height. They allow gymnasts to perform a variety of movements that demonstrate strength, agility and acrobatic skills.

Asymmetric bars (women)

The asymmetric bars are one of the apparatuses used in women’s gymnastics.
They consist of two horizontal bars, but at different heights, which makes them “asymmetrical”.

The asymmetric bars offer gymnasts the opportunity to perform a variety of movements including acrobatic elements, spins and transitions.

Balance beam (women)

The balance beam is another apparatus in women’s gymnastics.It is a narrow, raised beam, usually made of rigid material such as wood or metal, and positioned at a height of around 1.25 metres from the floor.During a routine on the balance beam, gymnasts perform a series of movements including acrobatics, jumps, spins, balances and dances.

Major artistic gymnastics championships

Principais campeonatos de ginástica artística
Major artistic gymnastics championships

The main gymnastics competition is the Olympic Games. The event is held every four years and brings together the best gymnasts in the world.

The World Gymnastics Championships are also very important and are held once a year. It runs along the same lines as the Olympics.

Now you know all about artistic gymnastics! What’s your favourite apparatus? Tell us in the comments! And don’t forget to visit our website every day, OK? We publish fresh articles every day 👊

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