We’ve reached the final event of the gymnastics dictionary. At this point you should be able to recognize a Yurchenko and a Tkatchev, even if you can’t actually perform one or pronounce it.
The final event in gymnastics is the floor exercise. It’s many people’s favorite because it combines the dynamic side of the sport with artistry and dance. In a floor routine, gymnasts perform tumbling passes that include acrobatic skills as well as dance combinations and choreography.
No floor routine can exceed one minute and 30 seconds and every second that the gymnast goes over the time limit is a deduction. All routines must also be at least 30 seconds long. And as always, like the other three events, each exercise starts and ends with a salute to the judge.
The floor is set up as a 40-foot by 40-foot square mat with a section outlining the out-of-bounds area. If a gymnast steps outside of the line (on the line is fine) at any point during her routine, it is a one-tenth deduction. Mats are allowed on the floor mat to cushion a gymnast’s landings as well, but if it exceeds the boundary of the floor, chalk or tape must be put on the mat to outline the boundary so the gymnast and judge can be aware of the edge, according to the Junior Olympic Code of Points.
Like the other events, each routine has a list of requirements that the performer must include in her routine before it ends. These requirements are the minimum, so on more advanced, collegiate teams, fans will often see teams going above and beyond the lowest level of difficulty allowed.
But for gymnasts with less difficulty, the attention to dance elements and details increases.
“It’s all the more important for me to have good amplitude in my skills, making those double backs and those twisting elements big and really perfect,” senior Sarah Persinger said. “And showing good control on the landing just to make those skills up to par with the people that are doing bigger elements.”
All routines must have one tumbling pass with two saltos directly connected or in a series; a dance passage with two or more leaps or jumps or turns together; the last tumbling pass must be of C-level difficulty; and at least three different saltos throughout the entire exercise with two of the three types of salto (front, side, back), according to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Rules Modifications and Meet Procedures for 2014 and 2015.
The exercise must be set to music. The music may not have lyrics but can have vocals as long as there are no discernable words.
Other special requirements deal with the composition throughout. During the routine, the level of difficulty must be maintained throughout. A gymnast can’t do a super hard first tumbling pass and finish with easy skills to close out the routine. The routine and its choreography must also cover the whole floor and not just stay on one area or diagonal. Choreography has to be performed forward, backward and sideways as well as standing to low to the ground to provide variety to the routine.
“Let’s just find the style and music that works for you,” Georgia head coach Danna Durante said. “Just having complete confidence, loving to perform and really wanting to be the center of attention.”
The choreography of a routine as well as the music is really where the gymnasts get a chance to show their personality. Learn more about what goes into the making of a Georgia gymnastics floor routine.
“Floor is all about putting on a performance and a show,” Persinger said. “A lot of that performance comes from using your eyes to kind of entice the judges and get their attention. And also doing big movements to involve the crowd as well and just making it all about not just doing tumbling and getting a score but really enjoying yourself and putting on that show.”