All the right moves: everything you need to know about gymnastics

January 4, 2015

Gymnastics has evolved a lot over the years. Pierre de Coubertin first introduced men’s gymnastics to the Olympics in the late 1890’s, but it wasn’t until the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam that women were included in the competition. Which gymnastics event is your favourite?

Modern gymnastics is grouped into three main categories: artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. Today, events are practiced by both men and women, individually and in teams.

Artistic gymnastics

  • Artistic gymnastic events differ between men and women. All of them require the athlete to use different apparatuses and equipment to create routines and perform difficult gymnastic manoeuvres.
  • Women’s individual, all-around and team events include the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercises.
  • Floor exercises, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and the high bar make up the men's individual, all-around and team events.
  • The events are scored using a coded point system, with 10 points as the maximum possible score. Scores are determined by a panel of judges who evaluate each gymnast’s strength, flexibility and technical perfection.

Rhythmic gymnastics

  • Rhythmic gymnastics is a women’s-only competition. It’s a combination of sports and art, influenced by modern ballet. The first modern semblance of the sport began in 1940. Gymnasts perform a floor routine choreographed to the rhythm of music, while manipulating an apparatus.
  • There are five apparatuses used in rhythmic gymnastics: ribbon, rope, hoop, ball and clubs. Routines are performed on a 13 x 13-metre gym mat.
  • Gymnasts are judged individually on technical content, artistic expression and performance. Points are awarded based on elements of variety, fluid movement, maximum extension and degree of difficulty.


  • This acrobatic event made its Olympic debut in 2000, with trampoline programs for both men and women.
  • Judges note technical errors such as poor posture, lack of altitude, loss of control during a routine, and an unstable final landing.
  • All gymnastic disciplines and exercises require strength, coordination, flexibility and precision.

For kids who are interested, there are many ways for toddlers to learn and become involved in this graceful but comprehensive sport at an early age. More and more schools offer gymnastic sports programs either as part of the curriculum or after-school activities. Who knows — your limber little one may turn out to be the next Canadian Comaneci!

All the right moves: everything you need to know about gymnastics
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