Gymnastics Floor Routines – How to Choreograph a Mat Routine That Judges Will Love

Even more than other competitions, the floor routine is where a gymnast can really display his or her full range of talents and abilities. Men and women’s routines are different in many ways. Men’s routines are 70 seconds in Olympic competitions, and anywhere from 30-70 seconds for intermediates. Men do not use music for their floor routines. They do a series of floor passes intertwined with handstands, presses and other arm balance positions, called scales.

Both men and women use springboard floors to soften the impact of tumbling. Women’s routines are 90 seconds in Olympic competition and can be as short as 30 seconds for mid-level athletes. There can be no singing and no lyrics in competition music, and though it can be any style classical music is most widely used. Choreographing a routine is very difficult, particularly because the gymnast needs to fluidly transition from complex tumbling to dance positions, handstands and splits.

Typically a gymnast is either stronger in the acro (tumbling) or gym (dance) portion of floor competition. Judges recognize this fact and though it is important to do some of both acro and gym elements, they are worth similar amounts of points in competition. There are many positions for gymnasts to start in. Standing starts are most commonly used by tumblers so they can get straight into their most difficult pass, and floor starts are utilized by dancers, who spend a lot of time on the floor and save their passes for the end of the routine. Points are deducted for failure to stick landings, flexed feet, bent knees, and anything else that makes the move look “ugly.”

Mary J. Gibson

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