Names of Gymnastic Poses

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A 2,000-year-old practice, gymnastics didn’t gain momentum as a competitive sport until about a century ago. As a complex series of moves and poses, gymnastics includes dance and acrobatics performed on the floor and on apparatus such as suspended rings and the balance beam. Whether moving or posing, gymnasts strive to demonstrate control and strength.


An arch displays the gymnasat's back flexibility as she pushes her hips forward and opens her chest to bend backward. The back handspring, for example, starts in a standing position, from which the gymnast flips backward, arching her back, and lands on her hands before returning to standing. The bridge is another arch. In this pose, the athlete lies on her back and bends her arms to place her hands by each ear. With bent legs, she begins to coax her hips toward the ceiling, arching her back. The full bridge requires straight legs and arms forming a seamless arch.

Upside-Down Poses

The candlestick and handstand are two poses that require an upside-down stance. The candlestick is a shoulder stand, with the gymnast resting his weight on his shoulders while his legs and toes point to the ceiling. The arms can provide stability when the athlete places them on the floor and presses down with the palms of his hands. In a handstand, the head points down and the feet up. The shoulders are extended -- open -- toward the floor, helping to support the gymnast’s weight. To keep his balance, he tilts his pelvis forward and turns his chest slightly inward. The leg muscles stay tight for the duration of the pose.


A straddle, in general, is a pose in which the gymnast’s legs are spread apart. A straddle split refers to the legs extended out to opposite sides. The athlete does a straddle swing with hands placed on uneven or parallel bars. Her legs then swing while stretched out to the sides. She also performs straddle jumps on the floor and the balance beam.

Tucks and Pikes

In a tuck, the gymnast bends his legs as close to his body as possible, tucking the knees into the chest. Tucks are combined with a number of moves such as the back salto, a backward somersault on the floor or an apparatus. He also does a cowboy tuck by separating the knees slightly, which allows him to bring his legs even closer to his body. The cowboy tuck makes rotating in the pose easier. In addition, gymnasts perform tuck jumps. In a pike position, the knees are close to the chest as they are in a tuck, but the legs bend at the hips only and the knees remain straight. The same skills performed in a tuck position can also be performed in a pike position.