Gymnastic Equipment

gymnastic equipment

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
gymnastic /dʒɪmˈnæstɪk/adj

  1. of, relating to, like, or involving gymnastics


gymnastics /dʒɪmˈnæstɪks/n

  1. (functioning as singular) practice or training in exercises that develop physical strength and agility or mental capacity
  2. (functioning as plural) gymnastic exercise
Men and women compete in different gymnastics events, with the only overlap between the two genders being the vault and floor exercise. Men also compete in the pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and high bar, while women compete in the balance beam and uneven parallel bars. Almost all these events use different pieces of equipment unique to that event.



The floor exercise is a key component to both men’s and women’s gymnastics. This event takes place within a 12-meter square, with a 1-meter buffer on each side for safety. The floor acts as both a spring and cushion, made of plywood, rubber foam and springs. This allows the gymnast to elevate off the ground as well as help soften the landing.


The vault is also used by both men and women, except it is set at different heights. The women’s vault sits 1.25 m off the ground with a springboard in front of it, while the men’s vault is slightly higher at 1.35 m. The gymnasts are judged on the height and distance of their vault, the number of flips and twists they are able to perform and their ability to land cleanly.

Parallel Bars

Men and women both compete on parallel bars, but the men’s bars are at even heights, while women’s bars are staggered. Men’s bars are 1.95 m off the ground and between 42 and 52 cm apart. The women’s bars are at uneven heights, with the lower bar at 1.61 m off the floor and the higher bar set at 2.41 m.

Balance Beam

The balance beam is exclusive to women’s gymnastics and is a bar 10 cm wide and 5 m long. It sits 1.25 m off the ground. The bars were originally made of polished wood, but have since been replaced with bars covered with either leather or suede for better grip.


Rings, sometimes called still rings, are only used by male gymnasts. The rings are 18 cm in diameter, hang 2.75 m from the floor and are 50 cm apart at rest. They are only used by males due to the amount of upper-body strength needed, as rings routines involve swings, handstands and an acrobatic dismount.

Pommel Horse

Pommel horses are made from a plastic body covered in a synthetic material, as opposed to a wood frame and leather cover of older pommel horses. The pommel horse sits 1.15 m high, at 1.6 m in length and 35 cm wide. The pommels are two plastic handles that are 12 cm long and set between 40 and 45 cm apart. The pommel horse, like the rings, are used only by men due to the amount of upper-body strength needed to complete the leg swings, handstands and other horse exercises.