Handy Gymnastics Vocabulary
Do you ever get confused when your gymnast comes home from class telling you all about his/her new skill? If your go-to response is “wow, that’s amazing!”, yet you don’t have the slightest idea what he/she is talking about, you are not alone. Gymnastics skills and vocabulary may seem complicated and difficult to understand if you’ve never participated in the sport yourself. That’s why we’re here to help!
Some people may be aware of the basics, such as: forward rolls, cartwheels and handstands, but what we teach your children goes beyond that! To begin, let me start by introducing the equipment in the gym, also known as apparatus. Girls learn skills on Floor, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Vault. The two apparatus that are shared between boys and girls are Floor and Vault; however, boy’s gymnastics also includes use of the Pommel Horse, Still Rings, Parallel Bars and Horizontal Bar. Two more pieces of equipment that your gymnasts are likely to talk about are Trampoline and Tumble Trak (more info on this wacky-sounding contraption to follow down below). These bouncy surfaces are usually a class favorite and with them comes even more skills (and probably even more peculiar sounding phrases).
To list every gymnastics related term would bore even the most enthusiastic parent. The main body positions vital to the sport are tuck, straddle, pike, arch and hollow (as pictured). However, the skills your gymnast is most likely to boast about are listed below.
Bridge: Arranging your body to create the shape of an arch, or essentially a rainbow, by lying flat on the floor, then pushing up so that you are supported by your hands and feet.
Backbend: A bridge that is performed by beginning in an upright position, with your hands raised above your head, then arching backward until your arms reach the floor.
Cartwheel: A circular movement in which you rotate sideways, bringing your hands to the floor, swinging your legs over your head, and then landing with your feet on the floor one at a time.
Pullover: A skill on bars that consists of pulling oneself up and over the bar, feet first, in a circular motion, then straightening the arms to support oneself on the bar.
Seat Drop: A trampoline skill in which one drops to a seated position with straight legs and then rebounds back to a standing position.
Seat/Doggy/Belly: A seat drop, followed by bouncing to hands and knees, then to your stomach (rather than rebounding immediately to your feet).
Split: Legs extended in opposite directions, ideally forming an angle of 180 degrees.
Tumbl Trak: a long, trampoline type surface that is more tightly woven to create less bounce, used to transition skills between trampoline and floor.
Walkovers (Front/Back): a vertical rotation of the body from a standing position, through a brief handstand.
Front: Starting upright, one would lunge (lean forward with one leg in front), kick to a handstand with legs in a split position and continue in a forward rotation to the floor, landing one foot at a time.
Back: Starting upright, one would arch backward into a handstand, legs in split position, then return feet to the floor one at a time.
Limbers (Front/Back): Similar to walkovers, except each skill is performed with legs together in the handstand position and feet landing at the same time.
This is just a small sample of what your child is taught by their amazing coaches at Head Over Heels. Hopefully this information can help create dialogue amongst your gymnast(s) and yourself regarding what they practice each class. The more engaged you are, the more enthusiastic your child will be about sharpening their skills!
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