In Gymnastics, What Is the Difference Between Apparatus & Equipment?

Male Gymnast Balancing During Floor Routine

The terms apparatus and equipment are often used interchangeably in gymnastics. However, according to the International Gymnastics Federation, apparatus references the event in which gymnasts are judged or what they physically perform on or with. Athletes use equipment to aid or enhance their performance in specific events, if allowed.

Artistic Gymnastics Apparatus

Woman on a Balance Beam

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Men have six apparatuses that they use in artistic gymnastics. The pommel horse, vaulting table, rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar and floor are all considered events and apparatus. Women only have four apparatuses in artistic gymnastics -- the vaulting table, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor.

Rhythmic Gymnastic Apparatus

Girl (7-9) standing on wall, pretending to do rhythmic gymnastics

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The stick, rings, rope and clubs are the four apparatuses used in rhythmic gymnastic for males. Women have five pieces of apparatus for rhythmic gymnastics -- the ball, hoop, ribbon, rope and clubs. Since these are the central features of the performance, apparatus is defined by what the gymnast performs with and not on. Additional equipment is prohibited.

Trampoline, Aerobic and Acrobatics Apparatus

The International Federation of Gymnastics also recognizes trampoline, acrobatic and aerobic gymnastics. These are single-apparatus sports. Aerobic gymnastics limits its gymnast to the use of the floor apparatus. Acrobatic gymnasts’ apparatuses are their bodies and the bodies of their partners or groups, while trampoline gymnastics’ only apparatus is the trampoline. In all three, additional equipment is not allowed.

Gymnastics Equipment

Gymnast girl fixing hair

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Artistic gymnastics makes the most use of additional equipment. Equipment is the sporting gear that gymnasts use to train and enhance their performance on specific apparatuses as opposed to the event or apparatus in which the equipment is used. Grips or hand guards, chalk, the springboard for a mounting vault, safety mats, wrapping tape and harnesses are allowed in artistic gymnastics. Rhythmic, acrobatic, aerobic and trampoline gymnasts are permitted to us chalk, safety mats and harnesses depending on the apparatus.