Women’s Artistic Gymnastics | The Balance Beam GL

The balance beam is a gymnastics apparatus used only by female gymnasts. The gymnast has to balance herself on a narrow wooden beam 5 meters (15.5 feet) long, 10 cm (4inches wide), and raised 125 cm (4.1 feet) off the ground. During a 90 second routine the gymnast will perform complex dance elements, leaps, turns, and tumbling moves.

The First Balance Beams

The first balance beams in gymnastics date back to the 19th century. They were made from tree trunks as long as 40 feet set on two stands very close to the ground. They weren’t smoothed out and flat like the modern day ones, instead they had round edges.

In 1964, Erika Zuchold performed the first back handspring.  By the 1970s the level of difficulty began to increase. Two of the first gymnasts do more complicated routines were Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut. After them, competitors began to carry out more aerial skills and tumbling. Eventually the beam was transformed into the current suede covered apparatus we see today. Rules regarding balance beam routines are made by the FIG, the International Federation of Gymnastics. Every routine must consist of a mount, a dismount, and a series of artistic and tumbling acrobats.



Gymnasts can either go barefoot or wear a special pair of beam shoes. Sometimes they put chalk on their hands and feet to help prevent from slipping.

click picture to see our beam shoes





Balance Beam Routines

Balance beam routines are selected by the gymnast and their coaches. The moves which  they perform are ranked according to their difficulty. An A move is the easiest, while an E move is the most difficult. Scoring is based on the difficulty and execution of the moves and the rhythm and composition. Ten seconds before the time is up a judge will either say “time” or “warning”. If you go over the allotted 90 seconds, a deduction in points will occur. If a gymnast falls during her routine they will receive a 1.00 point subtraction from their final score. The judges will stop timing the at the moment of the fall. They will restart again when the gymnast remounts the beam. The judge who is timing the fall will notify the athlete when 20 seconds have past and that she has 10 seconds remaining to remount it. If she doesn’t  terminated.


Home Balance Beams

Gymnasts of all ages can benefit from the use of a home balance beam. There are various types to choose from. You can find ones with a carpeted top or a foam top. If you’re a competitive gymnast and want to practice at home, I recommend one which is covered with suede. This is the kind that are used in competitions. Before purchasing a home balance beam, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to put it. Based on this you can select a length of beam that is most suitable to your room. Some people put their beams outside. This is a good option because of the unlimited space. Be sure to buy one with a surface of plastic, wood, or metal, as they will uphold the weather conditions better.

click picture to see this beam

There are literally hundreds of balance beams for sale on the internet. To help facilitate your search, browsw through our online store at  http://getleotards.com . We carry everything from high quality, suede covered, high and low beams to foam covered beams for kids. Always check with your coach before buying a beam.

This article was written by, and is the property of Getleotards GL.

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