Without mounts and dismounts there wouldn’t be a routine because a gymnast would have no way to get on or off the beam. While mounts are pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of the routine, the dismount is quite the opposite. The mount can range from pushing to front support to doing a flip onto the beam whereas dismounts all consist of flips as well as twists.
It’s not required to do a skill in the code of points as a mount. However, some gymnasts choose to use their mount as an opportunity to get one of their required skills out of the way early on. This can be risky, though. If a gymnast falls on her mount, it’s often difficult to recover during the rest of the routines as the very first element resulted in a mistake.
Mounts that do count as elements in the code of points can be anything from a jump off a springboard onto the beam to a handstand or planche mount.
Jump mounts are probably one of the easiest valued mounts to perform and are often used in combination with other dance elements afterward. Many gymnasts add a turn or another jump onto the mount for one or two “easy” tenths in bonus. A jump mount uses the springboard to get height to make it onto the beam four feet off the ground and can be in almost any recognized shape in the code of points. The element can be performed in a tuck, split or even stag jump position.
In a jump mount the gymnast starts a few feet away from the beam, runs up, hurdles onto the springboard and jumps off with two feet together, performing the shape of her jump in mid-air and coming back down in a standing position on the beam with either one or two feet.
Another form of jump mount is a jump to split. The gymnast will start on the side of the beam, standing on the springboard. She’ll then jump up and over with enough height to spread her legs in the air and land on the beam in a split.
Acro mounts involve the gymnast doing a flip off of the springboard and landing upright on the beam. It’s difficult to perform these mounts because the skill not only has to be performed well, but it has to rise enough to be able to finish four feet from where it started so as to actually make it to the height of the apparatus.
While virtually any acro skill can be done onto the beam, only a few are regularly performed in the NCAA. The front handspring, first done by former Gym Dog Courtney McCool at the Olympic Games in 2004, starts with the run up to the beam, a jump off the spring board and a front handspring onto the beam where the gymnast puts her hands on the end and flips forward so that her feet land on the beam and she finished in a standing position. McCool often performed a jump out of the mount for further connection bonus.
The front tuck mount is performed in the same way. The gymnast runs up, jumps on the springboard and does a front tuck, landing on the beam. Front pikes can also be done in this fashion but are rare for the college level.
There are other mounts that don’t fit in a specific category. Some of these include handstands, planches, and holds. However, mounts are an opportunity for gymnasts to do something unique or show their personality since there are so many opportunities and variations on ways to get on the beam.
A planche is a strength move where the gymnast starts with her hands on the side of the beam and uses purely the muscles in her core and shoulders to raise herself into handstand without the use of a kick for momentum. This portion is called a press handstand. The planche occurs when the gymnast puts her legs into a position and holds the handstand in that position. This mount must be held for at least two seconds to count as a skill in the routine and is very difficult to master and perfect.
For hold mounts, the gymnast gets on the beam however she wants and then swings into a position of strength and holds it to show control. In the GIF below, Bridget Sloan performs a pike hold where she brings her legs to her chest while keeping them straight and holding the position. It may look easy, but go ahead and try it right now just keeping your bottom and legs an inch off the ground and not even all the way up by your face.
Another type of hold is the shoulder hold where the gymnast supports the beam on her shoulders while she is upside down. It’s best to view this one for yourself. In this move, a gymnast can basically do whatever she wants with her legs as long as it’s not ugly or with bad form.
This final mount is unique because very few female gymnasts have ever done it, let alone in college. But UCLA’s Peng-Peng Lee is known for bringing innovative skills into her gymnastics. Performed mostly by men on pommel horse, flares are completed when the gymnast straddles her legs and circles them around her body. It takes tremendous stomach strength to perform flares and is difficult for men to do on pommel horse let alone a woman on beam.
A dismount is the last thing a judge sees before putting pen to paper and tallying the final score, so it’s imperative to leave a good impression. As legendary commentator Tim Daggett says, it’s gymnastics 101 to stick the landings. A stuck landings on a dismount can sometimes help push past mistakes out of a judge’s mind and leave a good mark on the routine as a whole as that stick is the most recent thing on their minds.
In college, a dismount must be at least a C in difficulty or a B if it’s combined with another element. Some C dismounts include back one and a half twists, back gainer fulls off the side of the beam and front full twists off of two feet.
One category of dismount is one that includes those hat start from a round-off on the beam where the gymnast lands with her feet at the end then punches and flips backward, flipping and landing on the mat. The most common round-off dismounts seen in the NCAA are those ending in one and a half twists, double twists, two and a half twists, double back tucks and double back pikes.
Similarly, back handsprings can be done into these flipping dismounts as well but aren’t seen as often.
Front Flipping Dismounts
Dismounts can also involve front flips and twists. The most common in this category is the front full. The front full is a front flip in the laid-out position with a full twist. It can begin in a few different ways. There is the front full that punches off of two feet, the one that takes off of one foot and the gainer version of the front full.
There are also dismounts that lead into a gainer salto. While almost all gainer dismounts end in a gainer full off the side of the beam, more twists can and have been done. However, gainer fulls are so easy to stick, so they’re done often. What changes in a gainer dismount is the lead-in skill. While a gainer full can be done on its own, most gymnasts do something into it to get bonus tenths added to their final score. Some skills often used as lead-in skills are leaps, cartwheels and back handsprings.
Another form of gainer happened off the end of the beam. The gymnast runs down the beam, plants her foot on the very end, swings her other leg up and back over her head as the momentum of her body takes her forward. She flips backward while still moving forward and finished on the landing mat. This dismount is performed as a pike but can be done as a layout as well.
Back Full Dismounts
Finally, gymnasts can perform skills into a back full dismount. A back full is only a B-level skill so it must be done in combination with another skill. Popular lead-in skills for back full dismounts are side aerials and back handspring layout step-outs. Many gymnasts do their acro series into their dismount to increase efficiency and get a bunch of requirements all in one fell swoop.
The most unique dismount done in the NCAA and probably the world right now is performed by UCLA’s Danusia Francis who does a transverse, or sideways-facing, aerial to back full. This dismount is so difficult because she takes off for the side aerial and lands in the exact same spot. Just watch the following GIF and feel free to open your mouth in awe.