An overview of Mens Artistic Gymnastics (MAG)

Olympic Order- Floor Exercise (FX), Pommel Horse (PH), Rings (SR), Vault (VT), Parallel Bars (PB), Horizontal Bar (HB)

Floor Exercise (FX)

Men perform on the same piece of apparatus ‘Floor’ as women, however a key difference is that men do not perform choreographed moves to music. Men are required to do more tumbling skills overall and typically perform tumbling passes that demand more strength.

The entire floor area should be used during the exercise, which consists primarily of tumbling passes performed in different directions. Acrobatic elements forward and backward and acrobatic elements sideward or backward take-off with one-half-turn must be performed during the routine. There must also be a non-acrobatic element included, such as a balance element on one leg or one arm; a static strength move, held for two seconds; or jumps, circles or flairs. Transitional skills, or gymnastics movements performed in between tumbling and acrobatic passes, should be executed with proper rhythm and harmony. The exercise must not exceed 70 seconds in length.

Pommel Horse (PH)

The pommel horse is widely considered to be one of the most difficult of the MAG events and it requires an enormous amount of practice to master even the most basic skills.

Pommel horse routines consist of continuous circular movements interrupted only by the required scissors elements. Swinging through a handstand position, with or without turns, is allowed. The hands are the only part of the body that should touch the apparatus and the entire exercise should flow with steady, controlled rhythm. A maximum of two cross support travels for bonus are permitted (forward and/or backward). The hand placements should be quick, quiet and rhythmic.

The event's difficulty stems from two factors. First, the gymnast must perform skills with a circular movement in a horizontal plane. Second, he spends most of each routine on only one arm, as the free hand reaches for another pommel or part of the horse to begin the next skill.

Pommel horse is the only event in which gymnasts do not get to stop or pause during the routine. If a gymnast gets in trouble, he must continue moving through the routine while making corrections. The constant movement makes this very difficult to do.

While the untrained eye may not catch these flaws, judges may deduct for several mistakes. For example, deductions may be taken if the hips are not high enough and the legs are not separated enough while performing the scissors requirement; the gymnast does not make it completely up to a handstand during a handstand dismount; or the gymnast performs a dismount that does not match the rest of the routine.

Still Rings (SR)

Suspended 3 metres above the ground, the Still Rings is a MAG event that commands a great degree of upper body strength and body control

An exercise on rings consists of swing, strength and hold elements. Generally, gymnasts are required to fulfil various requirements including a swing to held handstand, a static strength hold, and an aerial dismount. More experienced gymnasts will often perform more than one strength element, sometimes swinging into hold positions or consecutively performing different holds.

During a performance, the gymnast grips the rings and strives to keep them still and prevent swinging throughout, whilst demonstrating a routine exhibiting balance, strength, and power.

Vault Table (VT)

This piece of apparatus is common to both Womens and Mens Artisitc Gymnastics. To perform a vault, the gymnast runs down a 1 metre wide x 25 metre long carpet runway. This is the first phase of the vault performance, referred to as ‘The Run’.

The next stage of the vault performance is called ‘Pre-Flight’, this is the moment from when the gymnasts movement transitions from contact with the springboard (aka beatboard) to the third stage ‘Contact’ with the vault table.

The fourth stage ‘Post-Flight’ can be performed in different body positions, and cen range from simple skills over the vault table to incorporating saltos and twists. The best vaults are explosive off the springboard and when pushing off the vault table.

Judges watch for proper body alignment, form, quick repulsion, the height and distance travelled, as well as the number of saltos and twists. Generally, the more saltos and twists, the higher the difficulty value of the vault. In addition, gymnasts should "stick" the final stage of the vault performance ‘The Landing’ by taking no extra steps.

Parallel Bars (PB)

This piece of apparatus consists of two 3.5 metre long bars which are positioned parallel to the floor by a metal frame.  The distance between the bars can be adjusted from between 42cm and 52cm.

A parallel bar routine consists mostly of swing and flight elements. The gymnast should not stop or hold a move more than three times during the routine. The gymnast is required to execute swinging elements from a support, hang and upper arm position. The gymnast is also required to perform an under swing, sometimes referred to as a basket swing.

Horizontal Bar (HB)

A spectacular event, the horizontal bar is 2.4 metres long and is positioned at a height of between 2.5 and 3 metres. Usually the most crowd-pleasing and spectacular of all the events, the horizontal bar consists of swings, release moves and high-flying dismounts.

During the routine, the gymnast must execute a series of continuous swings and turns and at least one move in which the gymnast releases and re-grasps the bar. He also must perform at least one element in el-grip, dorsal hang or rearways to the bar.