The World Games explained: Gymnastics

The World Games explained: Gymnastics
The World Games features six categories of gymnastics. (contributed)

We are less than two years away from the World Games 2021 taking place in and around Birmingham. Alabama NewsCenter is explaining what you can expect to see. Today, we look at Gymnastics.

Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport that requires balance, coordination, flexibility and endurance. The origins of gymnastics can be traced back to ancient Greece. The word “gymnastics” comes from the Greek word “gymnos.”

The sport was included in the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896; however, women were not allowed to compete until 1928. Famous more recent Olympic-winning gymnasts include Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles.

There are six types of gymnastics featured in the World Games: acrobatic, aerobic, parkour, rhythmic, trampoline and tumbling.

The acrobatic gymnastics finals at the Cali World Games in 2013. (Coldeportes/Archivolatino)


Acrobatic has five categories: men’s pairs, women’s pairs, mixed pairs, women’s group (three gymnasts) and men’s group (four gymnasts). The pairs/groups present a routine with music that includes a certain number of required elements of three different types: static (balance), dynamic and combined. The static routine must include balanced pyramidal constructions held for three seconds and other elements of strength, flexibility and agility. The dynamic exercise is meant to show flight elements such as throws, pitches and catches as well as dynamic tumbling elements. There are three evaluation criteria: difficulty, execution and artistry.

Sandra Moreno and Vicente Lli Lloris from Spain compete in aerobic gymnastics mixed pairs during the Cali World Games 2013. (Coldeportes/Archivolatino)


Aerobic is the ability to perform continuous complex and high-intensity movement patterns to music. This sport originated from traditional aerobic exercises, as the routine must demonstrate continuous movement, flexibility and strength. The winning routine must show clean and balanced movements with perfect technique.

The rhythmic gymnastics competition requires that the gymnast keep an apparatus — in this case, a rope — in motion throughout the routine. (contributed)


Rhythmic gymnastics is practiced exclusively by women. This discipline includes five apparatus: rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. However, only four of these are used in a competition cycle. In competition, individual gymnasts present four exercises corresponding to the four authorized apparatus. The apparatus must remain in motion for the duration of the exercise. Movements must vary in form, magnitude, direction, level and speed. The apparatus must be handled in a variety of ways and may not be used as a decorative accessory. The composition of an exercise is based on certain basic body group movements (leaps, pivots, balance and flexibility) as well as technical groups.


Parkour is a training discipline using movement. Athletes aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Moves include running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, crawling and other movements deemed suitable for the situation.

The synchronized trampoline competition requires that two athletes perform the same movements at the same time on adjacent trampolines. (contributed)


Trampoline includes three disciplines: individual trampoline, synchronized trampoline and double mini-trampoline. Athletes perform acrobatics while bouncing on a trampoline. These can range from simple jumps in the straight, pike, tuck or straddle position, to more complex combinations of forward or backward somersaults and twists. Scoring is based on difficulty and on total seconds spent in the air. Points are deducted for bad form and horizontal displacement.

In synchronized, a competition pair consists of two women or two men. The pair performs the same routine on two adjacent trampolines. Partners must perform the same element at the same time and start facing in the same direction, but do not need to twist in the same direction. Each athlete is scored separately by a pair of judges for form in the same manner as individual competitions. The score for synchronization is generated by a machine.

In Double Mini, the trampoline is smaller than a regular competition trampoline. The gymnasts run, jump onto the sloping end, jump onto a flat plateau, then dismount onto a mat. Skills are performed during the jumps or during the dismount. The form and difficulty are judged in a similar manner as trampolining, but there are additional deductions for failing to land cleanly or landing outside a designated area on the mat.

The tumbling competition requires athletes to perform a succession of moves in six seconds, embodying eight skills. (contributed)


Tumbling is characterized by the complex, swift and rhythmical succession of acrobatic jumps from hands to feet, feet to hands or feet directly back onto feet in a matter of six seconds and on a 25-meter track. Tumbling is a colorful sport that offers spectacular elements such as speed, rhythm and twists. A routine includes eight skills, with the final skill requiring athletes to land on a landing mat (placed at the end of tumbling track). Each routine is valuated in execution and difficulty.

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