There are five events in acrobatic gymnastics: women’s pair, men’s pair, mixed pair, women’s group (three women) and men’s group (four men). Each pair or group performs routines featuring gymnastics tumbling skills, partner balances and dynamic skills with flight. Balance skills highlight the athletes’ strength and flexibility through pyramids and static positions of the top. Dynamic skills involve somersaulting and twisting with landings on the floor or catches by a bottom partner. Routines are performed on the same 40 ft. x 40 ft. spring floor that the artistic gymnasts use to perform floor exercise routines.
Athletes of varying heights, weights and body types are needed for acrobatic gymnastics. Smaller, more flexible athletes are needed for the top or “flyer” positions, while taller and stronger athletes are ideal for base positions.
Each elite pair/group performs three routines: balance, tempo, and combined. All exercises are choreographed and performed to music.
A balance routine consists of static balance holds, intricate pyramids, transitions between balance holds, and individual elements of flexibility, balance, agility and dance. The partners must be in constant contact during the performance of these elements. In a balance routine, pairs are required to perform a minimum of six balance elements and four individual elements. Pair skills include unique balances working on hands, feet or head. Groups are required to perform a minimum of two pyramids and four individual elements in the exercise. Groups perform amazing pyramids that defy gravity and demonstrate incredible strength. Tops of both pairs and groups are typically in handstand, arched handstand, planche or straddle hold positions supported by a base partner.
Dynamic routines include skills with partner throws and pitches to catches by the partner(s) or landings on the floor. Also included in tempo routines are individual tumbling skills. Dynamic elements require power and agility skills. Pairs and groups must perform six elements with flight and four individual elements, two of which must be a salto. An advanced example of a tempo skill is a salto with full twist performed from the hands of a partner back to the hands of a partner. Tops may be thrown into the air and perform double and triple saltos, some with twists, before landing on the floor.
A combined routine is just like it sounds, a combination of balance and dynamic elements and characteristics in one routine. Requirements for the combined exercise include three static balance elements and three dynamic elements. Again, pair/groups also are required to perform individual skills.