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GUIDE TO GYMNASTICS COVER

Photo John ChengThe 2016 Women’s Olympic Gold Medal Team(L-R) Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian, Simone Biles, Gabby DouglasUSA Gymnastics is the national governing bodyfor the sport in the United States. It gets this designation from the U.S. Olympic Committee andthe International Gymnastics Federation. USAGymnastics, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind.,sets the rules and policies that govern the sport ofgymnastics. USA Gymnastics has many responsibilities, including selecting and training the U.S. Gymnastics Teamsfor the Olympics and WorldChampionships; promotingand developing gymnasticson the grassroots throughthe national levels; andserving as a resource center for members, clubs, fansand gymnasts throughout theUnited States. USA GymnasticsUniversity provides educational resources for new andexperienced coaches andinstructors in the sport.USA Gymnastics encompassessixdisciplines:Women’s Gymnastics, Men’sGymnastics, Trampoline and Tumbling, RhythmicGymnastics, Acrobatic Gymnastics and Gymnasticsfor All.Today, more than 200,000 athletes and professionals are members of USA Gymnastics. More than4,500 competitions and events are sanctioned annually throughout the USA. USAGymnastics has more than164,000 athletes registeredto participate in the JuniorOlympic and elite programs.One goal in the sport isto become a USA NationalGymnastics Team member.To become a national teammember, a gymnast must firstwork his or her way through aseries of qualifying meets. Thepreliminary meets range fromUSA Gymnastics-sanctionedcompetitions organized by private clubs to state, regional andnational qualification meets. Eachmeet gives the athlete the opportunity to meet minimum qualification scoresand/or placement requirements established by USAGymnastics. Gymnasts meeting the requirements arethen eligible to compete in the national championshipsand the most prestigious and significant competition(s)of the year.Cover: Clockwise from top left: Sam Mikulak, Steven Gluckstein, acro pair Axel Osborne & Tiffani Williams, Simone Biles and rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng

By Lisa R. Ford, M.D. Owner ofDiva Gymnastics AcademyChildren in the United States are heavierand less active than ever. Former First LadyMichelle Obama even initiated a campaignagainst childhood obesity called “Let’sMove” (www.letsmove.gov). They reportthat children between the ages of 8 and 18spend an average of seven hours per dayusing television, computers, cell phones,video games and other entertainment media. As school budgetsbecome tighter, the first things to be eliminated are the arts programs, physical education andathletic programs.The immediate, as well as life long, health consequences of obesity include heart disease, high bloodpressure, elevated cholesterol, Type II diabetes and asthma, to name a few. Parents, physicians, andcommunities must work together to provide regular physical activity for our children, that can begin in earlychildhood, can be done by any child, and has enough action and variety to be fun. Gymnastics is the answer!Gymnastics education can begin at an early age. Once your child is walking, a parent/toddler class is

an excellent place to start. Your child can comfortablylearn skills that improve balance and coordinationwith you right next to him or her. Your child can enjoybeing around other children, but with the one-on-oneattention they need. Parents also learn skills they canuse in developmental play at home.As your child matures, brain growth is very rapid andnew skills can be readily learned. In the preschool years,children continue to improve their gross motor skillsand also begin to develop some strength and flexibility.They are now able to participate cooperatively in a groupsetting and follow directions from a coach/teacher.Gymnastics for older children is available in avariety of formats including recreational classes andcompetitive team participation. This allows all childrento participate in the sport regardless of their size and/orability. Each child can advance at his/her own speed ashe/she learns new skills. Gymnastics not only increasesstrength, grace and flexibility, but also encourages hardwork, discipline and determination. Gymnasts learnto tackle challenges and overcome their fears as theyadvance in the sport. The action, variety of skills andevents, and the reward of accomplishment keep thesport of gymnastics fun and exciting for young athletes.The skills learned in early gymnastics training willallow your child to be successful not only in gymnastics,but also in any other sports he/she may choose. Kidsneed to develop healthy habits early — to eat healthyfoods and be active every day. Give gymnastics a try!Find a club near you at www.usagymclub.com. You andyour child will be glad you did.

Bridget Sloan2009 All-Around World ChampionSimone Biles2016 Olympic Champion2013-2015 WorldAll-Around Champion2013-2016 NationalAll-Around Champion

There are four events in women’s gymnastics — vault,uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Women’sgymnastics is one of the most beloved sports in theOlympic Games. Every four years a new star is born asthe Olympic all-around champion is crowned. Mary LouRetton, Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglasand Simone Biles all achieved this prestigious title! Thisdiscipline requires incredible strength and flexibility.Although most sports have seasons, gymnastics is ayear-round commitment for athletes at the upper levels.VAULTA successful vault begins with a strong, accelerated run. Thebest vaulters explode off the board with tremendous quicknessduring the preflight phase of the vault. When the gymnastpushes off the vault table, the judges are looking for properbody position and an instantaneous repulsion. Watch for theheight and distance traveled, as well as the number of flipsand twists. Gymnasts strive to “stick” their landings by takingno extra steps.GabrielleDouglasUNEVEN BARSThe most spectacular of the women’s events, the unevenbars demand strength, as well as concentration, courage,coordination and split-second timing. Watch for the big swings that begin inhandstands on the high bar, incorporating multiple hand changes, pirouettesand release elements. The entire routine should flow from one skill to the nextwithout pauses, extra swings or additional supports. Watch for the high flyingdismount where the gymnast will attempt to stick her landing.BALANCE BEAMThe beam is only four inches wide and considered the most difficult eventby many gymnasts. The gymnast must use acrobatic, tumbling and dancemovements in her routine. Watch for acrobatic series consisting of two ormore elements performed in a row. The overall execution should give theimpression that the gymnast is performing on the floor, not on a beam. Watchfor variations in rhythm, changes in level, and the harmonious blend of danceand acrobatic elements.FLOOR EXERCISEUsually a favorite event for the fans, the floor routinemust be choreographed to music and cover theentire floor area. The gymnast must use a varietyof dance and tumbling elements which reflect herpersonality. Most gymnasts at the internationallevel will do four tumbling passes, changing boththe direction and level of movement throughout theroutine. Watch for powerful, yet graceful, routinesthat are fun and exciting.2015 Women’s WorldChampionships TeamPhotos John ChengAlexandraRaisman

Sam Mikulak2012 & 2016 Olympian2013-2016 NationalAll-Around Champion

There are six events in men’s gymnastics — floor exercise, pommelhorse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar. Thisdiscipline requires an incredible amount of strength and power.Below is information on each of the six events.FLOOR EXERCISEFloor routines consist of dynamic tumbling skills. The best gymnasts will incorporatetumbling passes with multiple twisting and flipping, both forward and backward, throughouttheir routine. A gymnast must show power and control on this event.POMMEL HORSEConsidered by many to be the most difficult of all men’s events, the pommelhorse is also the most subtle. Each move is defined by complex handplacements. The gymnast must perform continuous circular movementsinterrupted only by the required scissors elements. The entire exerciseshould flow with controlled rhythm. A gymnast must show precise timing andbalance throughout the routine.STILL RINGSOf all the men’s events, rings are the least stable,therefore requiring the greatest amount of strength.Just as its name suggests, the rings must be kept stillwhile the gymnast is performing. There are two typesof moves on the rings — strength positions and swingmovements. Those with the best command of theevent will display extraordinary skill in arriving at allrequired “holds” with absolute precision.VAULTEach vault is categorized in the Code of Points, theofficial rule book giving the relevant value of each skillperformed. A good vault is sometimes described asa “big” vault. The more twists and flips in the “post”flight, the more difficult the vault. The height, thedistance of travel, the overall acceleration into thevault and the sudden impact of a no-step, “stuck”landing all create a good impression for the judges.JakeDaltonPARALLEL BARSA parallel bar routine consists of predominantly longhand swing, support and flight elements, which moveabove and below the bars. Watch for the gymnastto execute swing elements and skills in whichboth hands release and regrasp the bars. Somegymnasts move outside the two rails, performingpress handstands and pirouettes on only one bar.HORIZONTAL BARThis event is also known as the high bar, and routinesconsist exclusively of swinging parts without stops.The parts are generally called giant swings, withmore specific terms applying to changes in grip,direction and body position. Watch for the gymnastto execute release moves. Look for high-flyingdismounts with multiple flips and twists and, ofcourse, the gymnast aims to land the dismount withno extra steps.Photos John Cheng2015 U.S. WorldChampionships TeamDonnellWhittenburg

Nicole Ahsinger2017 National Trampoline &Synchro Champion2016 Olympian

Trampoline & tumbling includes four events within its program —trampoline, tumbling, synchronized trampoline and double-minitrampoline. Both men and women may choose to participate in allfour events. Some gymnasts choose to focus on just one area, whileothers participate in two or more.The first trampoline World Championships event was held in 1964,and trampoline was first recognized as a sport in its own right in theU.S. in 1967. Trampoline made its Olympic debut at the 2000 OlympicGames in Sydney, Australia.TRAMPOLINEAs a sport, trampoline varies greatly fromrecreational bouncing.Internationalcompetition trampolines are larger andmore powerful than traditional “backyard” models, propelling trained athletesas high as 30 feet in the air during performances. During tcompetitive routinesof 10 skills each, upper-level athletescan easily demonstrate a graceful arrayof double, triple and quadruple twistingsomersaults.Austin NaceyErin JauchTUMBLINGPhoto FIGTumbling is performed on elevatedrunways, generally designed withfiberglass rods underneath, that helptumblers propel themselves higher thana basketball goal as they demonstratespeed, strength and skill while executinga series of acrobatic maneuvers.Explosive somersaults with multiple flipsand twists are performed by the top-levelcontenders.SYNCHRONIZED TRAMPOLINESynchronized trampoline demands thesame athletic skill as individual trampoline, while adding the elementof precision timing. Using two trampolines, side-by-side, two athletesperform identical 10-skill routines at the same time. In this most artisticevent in the sport, athletes mirror each other, doubling the visual beautyof trampoline competition.DOUBLE-MINI TRAMPOLINEDouble-mini trampoline combines thehorizontal run of tumbling with thevertical rebound of trampoline. Aftera short run, the athlete jumps onto asmall two-level trampoline to performa rebounding trick immediatelyfollowed by a dismount element onto alanding mat.Aliaksei Shostak (front)& Jeffrey GlucksteinCharlotte Drury

Laura Zeng2015-2017 RhythmicNational Champion2016 Olympian

Rhythmic gymnastics routines are choreographed to music,involving body elements and dance combined with the handling ofsmall equipment including a rope, hoop, ball, clubs or ribbon. Thechoreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balancedchoice of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements.Four of the apparatus are competed each year for individualcompetitors. Groups compete one routine with five of the sameapparatus and five with mixed apparatus.Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physicalabilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power,flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.In the group event, athletes need to develop teamwork, sensitivity,quick adaptation and anticipation, in addition tothe aforementioned skills.RIBBONSerena LuRibbon routines are comprised of snakes, spirals,swings, circles, throws and catches, and figure-eightmovements. The ribbon must remain constantly inmotion.Jazzy KerberROPELook for rotations, spirals, wrapping, unwrapping, figure-eights, throws and catches of the rope.Gymnasts also leap, jump, and skip through the openor folded rope, held by both hands.HOOPCommon movements include rolls, throws andcatches, passing through and over the hoop, rotationsof the hoop on the floor, and rotations of the hooparound the hand and other parts of the body. Watchfor the high throws and complex techniques forcatching the hoop.BALLFigure eights, throws and catches, movement withthe ball balanced on the hand or other part of thebody, bouncing and rolling the ball on the floor andalong parts of the body are all key movements.CLUBSAsymmetrical movements, small circles, mills, both small and l