Gymnastics Terms Glossary


Adolph: A front somersault with 3½ twists.
Aerial: A cartwheel (side aerial) or front walkover (front aerial) where the hands do not come in contact with the floor.
Amplitude: The amount of lift, repulsion, or extension of a particular skill.
Apparatus: A piece of equipment used in gymnastics training or competition.
Arabesque: A pose on one leg with the other leg extended behind the body.
Arch position: A curvature of the body in a reverse direction.
Assemble': A simple dance maneuver where the legs are brought together in the air to a landing with legs still together.
Attitude: The mental frame of reference displayed by a gymnast.


Back handspring: A move where a gymnast takes off from one or two feet, jumps backward onto the hands and pikes down to land on the feet; also known as a “flic-flac” or “flip-flop”.
Back: A backward somersault.
Back-in, full-out: Two continuous backwards somersaults with a full twist performed during the second somersault.
Balance beam: A sixteen-foot beam, 4-inches wide and approximately 4-feet above the floor, used for routines involving leaps, turns and tumbling moves in women’s artistic gymnastics.
Balance': A connection of three dance steps with a demi-plie' on the first step and releve' on the last two steps.
Balance: A static position like a scale or handstand position.
Barani: Similar to a forward somersault with a half-twist, only the twist occurs early in the somersault.
Basic Stand: A stand with the legs together and extended, torso erect, head neutral.
Beatboard / Reuter Board: The vault board used in the men’s and women’s vault at the Olympic level. Bed: The area of a trampoline on which competitors bounce.
Body wave: A wave-like movement of the entire body passing through the hips, shoulders, arms and head.
Bridge: An arched position with the feet and hands flat on the floor and the abdomen up.


Cabriole': A leap where one leg is raised to the front and the other leg is brought up swiftly underneath and beats against it before the gymnast lands on the foot used for take-off. Candlestick: A balance position high on the shoulders, with the hip angle open and body extended.
Cartwheel: A sideways / lateral kick to handstand then step down sideways with arms and legs extended.
Cast: From a front support (on uneven bars or horizontal bar), hands in overgrip, flexing at the hips (90 degrees) and immediately thrusting the legs backward and upward while maintaining the support position with extended arms.
Cat leap: A leap where a gymnast takes off from one foot, raising one knee and then the other.
Chaine' turn: A turn on the balls of the feet.
Chasse': A movement of the feet, either forwards or sideways which gives the impression of one foot chasing the other. (Often mispronounced as "Sa-shay.")
Clear Stride Support: On Uneven Bars - one leg on each side of bar (one leg forward, one leg backward). Hands support the body so that it remains off of the bar.
Clear: Movements in which only the hands (not the body) are in contact with the apparatus.
Composition: The structure of a gymnastics routine.
Compulsories: Pre-designed routines that contain specific movements required of all gymnasts.
Contraction: Forward, then retract the abdominal wall backward. Counterswing: A backward swing on the bars.
Coupe': A term describing the position of the leg. The leg is bent with the toe pointed on or behind the ankle, depending on the position of the support leg (parallel or turned out).
Cross: A position on the men's rings where the arms are straight out sideways, supporting the body, which is held vertically.


Demi-plie': Position of the legs and feet used in preparation for jumps and turns and in landings. The knees are slightly flexed and turned out along with the feet.
Develope': The unfolding of a leg into an open position in the air.
Diagonal tumbling: Male and female gymnasts commonly place their difficult tumbling skills on the diagonal, which is tumbling from corner to corner across the middle of the floor rather than tumbling from corner to corner on the sides of the floor area.
Difficulty: A rating that measures the difficulty of specific moves and is factored into the total score after judges have scored the execution of the moves.
Dismount: The final skill performed in a routine that must be stuck on landing, that is to take no steps on completion and then salute to the judges.
Double stag ring leap: Similar to the double stag leap, but with the back arched so that the foot of the back leg is at or above head height.
Double stag: A split leap where both legs are bent in the front and the back.


Element: A single skill or dance movement that has been assigned a degree of difficulty and or value in a gymnastics routine.
Execution: The form, style, amplitude, timing and technique used to complete the skills included in a routine in their appropriate sequence.


Flank: A skill in which the body passes over a piece of equipment with the side of the body facing the apparatus.
Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion through which a body part, such as the shoulders or legs, can move without feeling pain, while maintaining strength and stability of the joint.
Flic-flac / Flip-flop: A move where a gymnast takes off from one or two feet, jumps backward onto the hands and lands on the feet; also known as a “flip-flop” or “back handspring”.
Floor exercise: An event in men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics where a gymnast performs a series of exercises on an open 42' by 42' square of mats (with springs underneath) covered with carpet.
Flyaway: An Uneven Bar dismount performed from a long swing to finish with a salto.
Fouette: Push off one leg while kicking the other leg forward and upward executing a 180 degree turn, and land on the take-off leg. The other leg remains extended rearward.
Front Support: Any support position where the arms are straight and extended in front of the body.
Full-in, back-out: A double back ward’s somersault with a full twist performed during the first somersault.


Giant: A swing through 360 degrees around the bar, with the body fully extended.
Glide: A forward swing on the low bar that finishes with the body extended.
Grand jete: A scissor-like movement from one leg to the other with legs outstretched in the air.
Grand plie: A position where the gymnast stands with legs fully bent. Half-in, half-out: A double somersault with a half-twist on each somersault.


Handspring: (Front handspring) A common term for a gymnastics element where the gymnast kicks up to and through a handstand by punching out of the shoulders and driving the heels over to land in a stand. (Back handspring) From a stand the gymnast jumps backward to land in a handstand position from which he or she pikes down to a stand.
Handstand: Hands are flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, and the body completely extended and straight, legs together.
Headstand: Place the hands and forehead on the floor in a triangular shape (head in front of hands), and extend the hips and legs straight upward over the triangular base of support.
High bar: A bar standing approximately 9' high used in men’s artistic gymnastics; also called the “horizontal bar”.
Hitchkick: Push upward off one leg while swinging the other leg forward and upward, switching legs in the air, and landing on the other foot, in a demi-plie'.
Hop: Take off one foot to land on the same foot.
Hurdle: A long, low, and powerful skip step, which may be preceded by a run. The hurdle is a transition from a run or jump into a gymnastics skill.


Inverted: Any position in which the lower body is moved into a position above the upper body.
Inward turn: A turn in the direction of the supporting leg or arm; also known as a “reverse turn”.
Jete': A graceful move where a gymnast springs from one foot to the other.
Jump: Moving from both feet to both feet.


Kip: A move from a hanging position below an apparatus to a support position above it, usually completed from a glide swing.


Landing Mat: A four to eight-inch mat filled with foam and ethyfoam to soften the landing when a gymnast dismounts the apparatus.
Layout: A straight or slightly arched position of the body. Leap: Moving from one foot to the other foot showing flight.
Leg circle: A standard pommel-horse move where a gymnast keeps the legs together and swings them in a full circle around the horse, with each hand lifted in turn from the pommel to let the legs pass.
Lever: From a basic stand on one foot, the free leg is lifted behind with the arms stretched overhead, creating a straight line from the fingertips to toes. The hip joint acts as a fulcrum about which the arms and legs pivot as a unit. Lever positions should be seen when moving into or out of handstand skills.
Lunge: A lunge is a position in which one leg is flexed approximately 90 degrees, and the other leg is straight and extended. The body is stretched and upright over the flexed leg.


Mixed grip: One hand in overgrip and the other in undergrip.
Mount: The initial skill of a gymnastics routine.


Opposition: A position of the arms whereby one arm is placed in a forward-middle position and the opposite arm in side-middle.
Optionals: Routines created by the gymnast which portray their best skills and personality.
Overgrip: Grasping the bar with the thumbs pointing towards each other.


Panel Mats: Basic mats which are constructed of a single layer of resilient foam, ranging in thickness from one to two inches, that can be folded into panels approximately two feet wide. Parallel bars: An apparatus consisting of two wood-laminated fiberglass rails on uprights, adjustable in height and used for swinging, vaulting and balancing exercises in men’s artistic gymnastics.
Passe': A position of the leg whereby one leg is bent with the toe pointed against the inside of the knee of the support leg. (May be performed with the knee pointed forward or sideward) Pike: A position where the body is bent forward at the hips to 90 degrees or more while the legs are kept straight, with the thighs close to the upper body.
Pirouette: To turn on one foot around the body’s longitudinal axis, as defined by the spine, in dance elements. Also descriptive of a move when the body is in a handstand position and the hands are used to rotate the body around it's longitudinal axis.
Pivot: A sharp 1/2 turn around a single point of support, like one hand or a turn on the ball of the foot.
Plane: An imaginary surface where moves are performed, i.e., lateral, frontal, horizontal or diagonal.
Plie': A position with the knees bent and the back straight.
Pommel horse: A men's event similar to the vault horse but with two wooden pommels about which circling movements of the legs are performed.
Presentation: (present) - a movement of the arms whereby the arm(s) open from forward-middle to a side-middle position.
Prone: Lying face down with the body straight.


Randy: A front somersault with 2½ twists.
Rear Support: Any support position where the arms are straight and extended behind the body.
Rear: A descriptive term indicating that the body passes over or around an apparatus with the back of the body leading or facing the apparatus.
Rebound: A quick jump using very little flexion of the hips, knees, or ankles.
Release: To leave the bar to perform a move before grasping it again.
Releve': A swift rise or lift onto the ball of the foot.
Reverse turn: A turn in the direction of the supporting leg; also known as an “inward turn”.
Rhythm: The speed or tempo at which a skill/dance step is performed.
Ring leap: A leap where the legs are in a splits position, with the front leg straight and the back leg bent, while the back, head and arms are arched backward, forming a “ring” shape. Rings: Two parallel rings, suspended from a cable and straps and held, one in each hand, for a series of exercises in men’s artistic gymnastics particularly requiring stillness of the body; also called the “still rings”.
Round-off: A round-off is a dynamic turning movement. Step forward and push off one leg while swinging the legs upward in a fast cartwheel type motion. As the body becomes inverted, execute a 90-degree turn, push off the hand, the legs are brought together just before landing facing the direction from which the performer started.
Routine: A combination of gymnastic, acrobatic, and dance elements displaying a full range of skills on one apparatus.
Rudy: A front somersault with 1½ twists.


Scale: A balance on one leg, with the other leg raised backward, sideward or forward and the upper body lowered slightly.
Scissor kick: A jump from one foot to the other with legs straightened as they swing forward, simulating the motion of scissors.
Scissors: A standard pommel-horse skill where the legs straddle the horse as they swing around it and the hands are lifted in turn to let the leg pass.
Sequence: Two or more positions or skills, which are performed together creating a different skill or activity.
Side splits: A position where a gymnast sits on the floor with the legs at full horizontal extension on opposite sides of the body, forming a 180-degree split.
Sissone: Stepping forward on one foot, bringing the other foot forward to a position behind the first, jump and separate the legs to a split position, and land on the first leg.
Skill: A specific move that competitors are required to perform.
SLP: Safety Landing Position. When landing from a gymnastics skill the athlete lands with knees bent, lower back rounded, and arms up next to the ears.
Snap: A very quick movement of the body, usually form a 3/4 handstand position, moving the feet to the ground bringing the body to a near upright position.
Somersault: A flip or rollover in the air where a gymnast rotates around the axis of the hips.
Split leap: A forward leap from one foot, landing on the opposite foot and assuming a split position in mid-air.
Splits: A position where one leg is extended forward and the other backward, at right angles to the body.
Spot: To spot is to physically guide and/or assist a gymnast while performing a skill. Coaches spot for safety and when they are teaching new skills.
Spotters: Usually the coach or an individual whose job it is to protect competitors from injury should they fall.
Springboard / Vault Board: The device used to launch a gymnast into the air over a vault horse. Usually has 3 to 6 springs mounted between two boards, the top board being covered with carpet.
Squared hips: A position of the body whereby both hips are flat and facing forward.
Squat: Support on the balls of the feet with the knees and hips flexed so that the seat is near, but not touching the floor with the heels and torso erect.
Stag leap: A leap where the front leg is bent at the knee and the other leg extends straight back behind the body.
Stick: A gymnast "sticks" a landing when he/she executes a landing with correct technique and no movement of the feet.
Straddle: A position in which the legs are straight and extended sideward.
Straight Stand: Standing with the heels together at a position of attention.
Stretch Position: Standing straight with the arms extended above your head.
Stride support: A position on the bars whereby the weight is balanced on the hands with one leg on each side of the bar.(one leg forward, one leg backward)
Supine (Layout Position): Lying flat on the back with the body straight, arms extended above the head.


Tkatchev: Named after Russian gymnast Alexander Tkatchev, a move from a backward giant to a backward straddle release over the bar.
Tour jete': Push off one leg while kicking the other leg forward and upward executing a 180 degree turn, switch the legs in the air, and land on the first leg. The take-off leg is extended rearward.
Tripod: Place the hands and forehead on the floor in a triangular shape (head in front of hands), and extend the hips above the triangular base. The body is piked with the knees bent, resting on the elbows.
Tuck: A position where the knees and hips are bent and drawn into the chest.
Turn: A rotation on the body’s axis supported by one or both feet.
Twist: A move in acrobatic skills where a gymnast rotates around the body’s longitudinal axis, defined by the spine.


Undergrip: Grasping the bar with both thumbs facing out, away from each other.
Uneven bars: An apparatus in women’s artistic gymnastics with a top bar almost 10 feet above the floor and a lower bar 4 1/2' high, used for a continuous series of grip changes, releases, new grasps and other complex moves.


Vault: A solid apparatus similar to the pommel horse, but lacking handles, and used in men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics for a variety of handsprings from a running approach.
V-sit: A position where the legs are raised off the floor close together and the body is supported by the hands to form a “V” shape.


Walkover: A gymnast kicks up from a standing position through a handstand position to a standing position while “walking” through the air with the feet.
Waltz Step: Three consecutive steps, demi-plie' through 4th position on the first step and releve' on the next two steps.
Wedge: A developmental mat filled with soft, shock absorbent foam. Its distinct shape is a sloping triangle with various heights and widths.


Yurchenko vault: Named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, a vault that begins with a round-off entry onto the vault board and continues with a back handspring onto the horse and a back 1½ somersault off.