The Four-Year Fan Guide: Gymternet Glossary


Now that you’ve had a brief intro to everything that’s happened since you last tuned in for the Olympic Games, we hope you’re taking a look around the site to catch up on everything more in-depth.

If this is the case, what you’ll discover is that gymnastics has a language all its own, with abbreviations, skill names, nicknames, and fan slang dominating the vernacular, making it difficult for people to casually jump in and catch on. That’s where our Gymternet Glossary, by contributor Jessica Price, comes in handy. If you ever come across something you don’t understand, we hope this will clear everything up…and if not, give us a shout! We’re happy to explain.



2-per-country: Only two gymnasts from each participating nation can qualify into a final (individual all-around, or the four event finals). This rule is meant to make the finals more diverse, but at times it means that exceptional athletes are excluded from finals, an example being when 2011 World Champion Jordyn Wieber was “2-per-country’d” out of qualifying for the individual all-around at the 2012 Olympic Games despite placing fourth in qualifications.

5-4-3, 5-3-3: The 3-digit number is a way to describe how a team competition is formatted. The first digit is the number of members allowed on a team, the second is how many gymnasts from each team will compete on each apparatus, and the third number is how many of those scores count. In qualifications at the Olympics (5-4-3), each team will consist of 5 gymnasts, 4 will compete on each event, and 3 of those four scores will count. In the team final (5-3-3), 3 gymnasts will compete on each apparatus and all 3 scores will count toward the final score.

15.366: At the bars final during the 2015 World Championships, four gymnasts (Viktoria Komova, Madison Kocian, Daria Spiridonova, and Fan Yilin) placed first with this score, leading to an unprecedented four-way tie for gold.


AA: All-around. The individual all-around competition consists of 24 competitors competing on vault, bars, beam, and floor.  

Aerial: When a gymnast does a cartwheel in any direction (front, back, side) without touching her hands to the floor. Here is Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers doing two side aerials in a row on beam (at 0:19).

Afan: This is a nickname for Ksenia Afanasyeva of Russia. She was an alternate for the Russian team this year before being replaced by Evgeniya Shelgunova.

Amanar: A 2.5 twisting laid out Yurchenko vault, perhaps most famously known as the vault Mckayla Maroney performed at the 2012 Olympics.

Arabian: A skill is called “arabian” if it begins with a half twist that turns a backward element into a forward element. A double arabian is when a gymnast takes off backwards, then does a half twist into two front somersaults. Here is British gymnast Claudia Fragapane doing a double arabian in the piked position (at 0:31).


Baby Shakira: Nickname for USA’s Laurie Hernandez, who is known for her expressive dance moves on floor.

Bail: When a gymnast is swinging from the high bar and facing the low bar, and she lets go of the high bar and catches the low bar with her back facing the high bar, in a handstand position. Sophie Scheder of Germany does a bail here at 0:27.

BB: Balance Beam.

Bee Farm: Russian gymnast Maria Paseka‘s nickname, because her last name translates to “apiary” or “bee farm.” Whenever fans attempt to google translate Russian articles, Maria’s name typically comes up as Maria Bee Farm.

BelarusGate: The controversy concerning athletes from the United States representing Belarus at World Championships and the Olympic Games.  

Bhs: Back handspring. A bhs loso is a back handspring layout stepout, a common series performed on the balance beam. Here is Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade performing that series (0:18).

The Big Four: This refers to the four countries that are traditionally dominant in women’s artistic gymnastics: Russia (USSR), Romania, China, and the United States, though Romania not qualifying to Rio and Great Britain placing third ahead of Russia at 2015 Worlds has thrown this for a loop.

The Biles: A double layout half-out, named for Simone Biles at the 2013 World Championships.

Blind Landing: When a gymnast can’t see the ground before she lands. Here is Maria Paseka of Russia competing the Amanar, which has a blind landing.

Buckeye: The name of Gabby Douglas’ current gym, in Ohio.


Camp: The United States has a semi-centralized system for its female artistic gymnasts, meaning the gymnasts train at home at their personal gyms, but then once a month the national team (and others) get invited to participate in a training camp at the Karolyi Ranch.

Cheng: This is an Yurchenko-style vault where the gymnast completes a half-turn onto the table before pushing off, and completes 1.5 twists in the laid out position. Named after 2008 Olympian Cheng Fei of China.

Chow: A stalder shaposh. Here is Belgium’s Senna Deriks doing a Chow on bars (0:22). See shaposh.

Church: A toe-on, piked tkatchev. See tkatchev.

Chuso: Nickname for Oksana Chusovitna.

Code: The Code of Points is a comprehensive guide released by the FIG of all rules, regulations, and skills in gymnastics. The code is renewed every quad with updates. Each skill is rated by a letter corresponding to difficulty.

Code Whoring: The (perfectly legal) practice of taking advantage of loopholes in the code of points to maximize start value.

COP: See Code of Points.

Cowboy: “Cowboying” is when a gymnast spreads her knees apart while doing a skill in the tucked position, making her look like she’s riding a horse. This helps speed up rotation, but it’s considered a form error.

CV: Connection Value. This is when a gymnast gets credit in her D-score for performing two elements back-to-back, without any hesitation or rebounding in between.

CR: Composition Requirements. This is what each gymnast is required to do on an apparatus in order to have their D-score start with at least a 2.5. There are five requirements worth 0.5 apiece for each event, so if a gymnast is missing one of the CR from her routine, she will lose 0.5 for each one not included. Here are the CRs for each apparatus:

  • Bars– flight from low to high bar (i.e. shaposh or toe shoot) as well as high to low bar (i.e. pak salto or bail), single bar release (i.e. Tkachev or Jaeger), non-flight element with a 360 degree minimum turn (i.e. stalder full or Ono), different grips/elements forward and backward (i.e. a front giant or an Endo), D+ dismount (i.e. double layout or tucked full-in)
  • Beam– connection of two dance elements with one a 180 degree split (i.e. full turn + split leap or split jump + sissone), full turn on one foot, acro series (i.e. bhs + loso or side aerial + side aerial), acro elements forward (i.e. front aerial or punch front tuck) and backward (i.e. back tuck full or back layout), D+ dismount (i.e. double tuck or 2.5)
  • Floor– connection of two dance elements with one a 180 degree split (i.e. tour jete half + Popa or switch leap + switch half), saltos forward/sideways (i.e. double front or side aerial) and backward (i.e. double layout or triple full), double saltos (i.e. double tuck or double front), saltos with a minimum of one full twist (i.e. 2.5 or punch front full), D+ dismount (i.e. double tuck or 2.5)


D-Score: Difficulty Score. This technically has no ceiling, but it typically ranges from 5 to 7 at the Olympic level. This is combined with the E-score (out of ten possible points) to get the total score.

DTY: Double Twisting Yurchenko vault. Here is Swiss gymnast Guilia Steingruber doing a DTY (at 1:17).


EF: Event Finals. Based on scores in qualifications, the top eight ranking gymnasts for each apparatus will compete in event finals (see 2-per-country rule).

Endo: A bars skill where a gymnast swings around the bar with her hands in a reverse grip and her legs in a stalder position. Here is U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas performing an Endo (0:21).

E-Score: Execution score, based on how perfectly the skills in the routine were performed. This is out of ten, and is combined with the gymnast’s D-score for the total score. No ten has ever been awarded under this scoring system.

Extra Swing: On uneven bars, fluidity and momentum are important, and if a gymnast loses momentum or makes a mistake, she may need to take an extra swing on the bars. If this happens between two elements that are supposed to be connected, then this lowers her D-score.


FIG: Federation International de Gymnastique. This is the international governing body of gymnastics.

Flexed feet: In general, feet and toes should be pointed when executing a skill. If a gymnast has flexed feet, it means her feet and toes are not pointed. This is very common for a skill like the tkatchev, where it is very difficult to keep feet pointed, but it is still a deduction.

Flying Squirrel: The nickname Martha Karolyi gave to USA’s Gabby Douglas due to her high-flying release skills on bars.

Form: Body position. There are standards for form for every skill a gymnast performs, and deviating from that form results in deductions. Usually, if a gymnerd says something like “some form in the air” on a vault, it means there were issues such as bent knees (for a vault that isn’t meant to be in a tucked position), leg separation, flexed feet, etc.

Four Year Fans: People who only watch gymnastics once every four years, during the Olympics.

FTY: Full Twisting Yurchenko vault. Here is China’s Shang Chunsong performing an FTY.

Full: Full twist. Here is Japan’s Sae Miyakawa doing a full-twisting double layout on floor (0:55).

FX: Floor Exercise.


Gabby, Inc.: Not a real business; refers to Gabby and her family’s business related to her career and endorsements.

Giant: When a gymnast swings all the way around the high bar. A gymnast generally does one or two giants to gain momentum before dismounting. Here is Great Britain’s Rebecca Downie doing two giants (0:57).

Gienger: On bars, a back flip with a half twist before regrasping the same bar, named for German gymnast Eberhard Gienger. Both men and women compete this common bars skill!

Grandma Aly: A nickname for USA’s Aly Raisman, who is the oldest member of USA’s Women’s Gymnastics Team and who takes frequent naps.

Gymcastic: A gymnastics podcast run by Jessica O’Beirne.

Gymnerds: Diehard gymnastics fans who follow the sport all quad.

Gymternet: Apart from, the gymternet in general refers to the online community of gymnastics fans.


Half: A half twist. On bars, an inbar half is an inbar with a half turn. Here is Daria Spiridonova of Russia doing an inbar half (0:27).

Handspring Vault: A vault where the gymnast jumps onto the springboard and then does a handspring onto the vaulting board. Here is Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina doing a handspring ½ twisting laid out vault (also known as a Rudi).

Healy: Often performed in combination with the Ono, a full turn on one arm on the uneven bars. Mostly used by Team China. Here is China’s Fan Yilin performing her Healy/Ono combination (0:25).

Human Emoji: A nickname for Laurie Hernandez due to her expressiveness.


In: This means a twist occurs in the first salto in a double salto. A “full-in” is when a gymnast does a double somersault with the full twist in the first somersault. France’s Loan His does a tucked full-in dismount on bars (0:48).

Inbar: When a gymnast swings around the bar with her legs in a piked position and her feet by her head. Here is Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs performing an inbar (0:15).

IOC: The International Olympic Committee.


Jaeger: A release move on bars in which a gymnast lets go while swinging backwards, does a somersault, and re-catches the bar. Australia’s Larrissa Miller does a piked Jaeger (0:29).

Jesolo: Generally the first major meet for the USA of the season, this is a friendly meet that takes place in Italy.

Jump: When a gymnast takes off from two feet and lands on two feet. Here is Venezuela’s Jessica Lopez doing a wolf jump (0:34).

Junior: A Junior is a gymnast who is not yet age-eligible, i.e. she does not turn 16 during that year. Gymnasts who were born in 2001 and later are considered juniors in 2016 and are not eligible to participate in the Olympics.


Karolyis: Bela and Martha Karolyi. See Karolyi Ranch and Martha.

Karolyi Ranch: The United States has a semi-centralized system for its female artistic gymnasts, meaning the gymnasts train at home at their personal gyms, but then once a month the national team (and others) get invited to participate in a training camp at the Karolyi Ranch.

Kip: A swing forward on the bar, usually followed by a cast to handstand. This is how many gymnasts start their bar routines. If a gymnast can’t connect two elements that are supposed to be connected, she may do a kip in between to regain momentum. Here is Algeria’s Farah Boufadene starting out her bar routine with a kip cast to handstand.

Komova I: A toe-on inbar shaposh half. See Shaposh.

Komova II: A toe-on inbar shaposh. Here is Russia’s Viktoria Komova performing a Komova II (0:07). See Shaposh.


Layout: A straight, stretched body position. Japan’s Mai Murakami performs a double layout on floor (0:25).

Leap: On beam or floor, when a gymnast takes off from one foot. Here is Simona Castro of Chile performing a switch leap with a quarter turn on beam (1:15).

Leg sep: Leg separation. In general, legs should be together during skills like laid out Yurchenkos, and leg separation is a form error.

Loso: A layout stepout. A bhs loso is a back handspring layout stepout, a common series performed on the balance beam. Here is Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade performing that series (0:18).

L-turn: A full turn where the gymnast has one leg raised parallel to the floor. Here is Poland’s Katarzyna Jurkowska doing an L-turn on beam (1:08).  


MAG: Men’s Artistic Gymnastics.

Maloney: A toe-on Shaposh. Russia’s Seda Tutkhalyan performs a Maloney on bars here (0:09). See Shaposh.

Mama Aly: A nickname for USA’s Aly Raisman, who is the oldest member of USA’s Women’s Gymnastics Team and who takes frequent naps.

Martha: Martha Karolyi, the USA National Team Coordinator. She has a huge influence on forming the Olympic team and deciding who performs on each event. She is largely credited with setting up the USA’s current semi-centralized system and making the program a huge success. She retires this year.  

MG Elite: The gym where USA’s Laurie Hernandez trains.  

MLR: Mary Lou Retton, the first US woman to win a gold in the Olympic all-around competition.

Musty: Nickname for Aliya Mustafina, member of the 2016 Russian team.


NBC: NBC broadcasts all Olympic gymnastics and many of the major meets leading up to the Olympics, such as American Cup and Nationals, along with Trials.

New Life: The “New Life” system means the scores a gymnast got in a previous event do not carry over into another event (i.e., qualification scores do not carry over into the all-around, and all gymnasts start with zero points).


Olympic order: The order of events in which the women compete in team and all-around finals is vault, bars, beam, and floor.

Ono: Often performed in combination with the Healy, a full turn on one arm on the uneven bars. Mostly used by Team China. Here is China’s Fan Yilin performing her Healy/Ono combination (0:25).

OOB: Out of bounds. There is a line on the mat for all four events and going outside of this line is considered an error.

Out: Out, as in “full out,” refers to the second in a double salto. A full out would mean the full twist occurs in the second somersault of a double salto. Simone Biles performs a double layout full out (0:19).


Pak: A pak salto is a transition from the high to low bar, where the gymnast lets go of the high bar, does a somersault in a laid out position, and catches the low bar. Here is USA’s Madison Kocian performing a pak (0:20).

Pass: A pass is a tumble from one corner of the floor to another. Generally, women have four tumbling passes in a floor routine.

Patterson: A double arabian dismount off of beam, invented by USA gymnast Carly Patterson. Here is USA’s Aly Raisman performing a Patterson (1:25).

Pike: A body position where the body is bent at the hips at a 90 degree angle. Here is Armenia’s Houry Gebeshian doing a double pike on floor (0:15).

Pirouette: A full turn. On beam and floor, this is a full turn on one foot. On bars, this is a full turn on top of the bar. Here is Russia’s Aliya Mustafina performing a double pirouette on beam (0:45).

Pro: Professional. When a gymnast “goes pro” it means she has given up her NCAA eligibility in order to sign with an agent and get compensated for sponsorships.

Produnova: A very difficult vault named after Yelena Produnova, in which a gymnast does a front handspring onto the vaulting table and then does two and a half front tucked somersaults. Dipa Karmakar of India is expected to perform this vault at the Olympics.

PT: Podium Training. All athletes get to do a “dress rehearsal” on all of the competition equipment one or two days before qualifications.

Punch Front: After a running or jumping start, a gymnast “punches” her feet onto the floor or beam and does a front somersault, in the tucked or piked position. Angelina Kysla of the Ukraine does a punch front tuck on beam (0:40)


QF: Qualification. All 98 female gymnasts at the Olympics compete in qualifications to determine who gets to compete in the Team Final, All-Around Final, and the Event Finals.

Quad: A set of four years culminating in the Olympics Games. At the end of each quad, the code of points is revised and many gymnasts retire.


The Ranch: The name for the Karolyi Training Camp, where the US National Team trains.

Ray: A toe-on straddled tkatchev. Here is Ana Sofia Gomez of Guatemala completing a Ray (0:20). See tkatchev.

Release Skill: This is when a gymnast lets go of the high bar and then catches the same bar. Examples include the tkatchev and the jaeger. A release skill is a composition requirement for bars.


Salto: This is another word for somersault.  

SCAM: A word the gymternet uses to describe the American Cup, an annual international competition where the US women typically come in first and second.

Scratch: This is when a gymnast deliberately touches the apparatus and then salutes the judges without doing any skills, and is awarded a zero. This is sometimes done in qualification rounds for strategic purposes or due to an injury.

Secret: The Secret U.S. Classic, the second national, televised meet for the US women each year. This is the last meet where a gymnast can qualify for national championships.

Senior: A senior gymnast is a gymnast who will turn 16 in that year. This year, all gymnasts who were born in 2000 or earlier are considered senior, and only these gymnasts are eligible for the Olympics.

Shaposh: Short for Shaposhnikova, a low to high transition on the uneven bars. Here is Natalia Shaposhnikova (USSR) performing her eponymous skill in 1979 (0:34). There are many variations of the shaposh:

No Turn Half Turn Full Turn
Clear Hip Shaposhnikova (D) Khorkina (E)
Toe-On Maloney (D) Van Leeuwen (E) Seitz (E)
Stalder Chow (D) Chow half (E)
Inbar Komova II (E) Komova (E)

Sheep jump: A jump on beam where the gymnast leans her head all the way back and brings her feet up until they touch her head. The gymnast loses sight of the beam doing this skill. Here is Flavia Saraiva of Brazil doing a sheep jump on beam (1:12).

Sissone: A leap on beam where the legs are in a split, but are not parallel to the beam. A low-difficulty skill usually connected to another split.

Songsong: A nickname for China’s Shang Chunsong.

Spotting: This is when a gymnast’s coach either helps a gymnast complete a skill by pushing at just the right moment, or prepares to catch her in the event of a fall on uneven bars. Coaches are allowed to “spot” on bars by stepping in to prepare to catch a gymnast, but s/he cannot touch her, and coming too close is referred to as “heavy spotting.”

Stag: A stag leap is a leap forward with the front knee bent and the back leg straight. This is often done on floor after a pass, and counts as a connection. Here is USA’s Aly Raisman doing a stag out of her arabian double pike (0:45).

Stalder: On the uneven bars, the gymnast swings around the bar with her legs spread apart and between the bar and her head.

Switch: A switch leap is when a gymnast takes off from one foot and does a split. A switch half is when a gymnast does a half twist in the air during the split. Here is Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari doing a switch half on beam (1:00).

Switch Ring Leap: A very difficult leap done on beam and floor. The gymnast leaps with one leg straight in front of her and the other bent behind her, touching her head, which is laid back. The gymnast loses sight of the beam. Here is Aliya Mustafina of Russia performing a switch ring leap (1:13).


Test Event: This was the final qualification event for Rio. It took place in April.

TF: Team Final. Of the twelve teams that qualified to compete in Rio, the top eight from the qualification round will move to the team final.  

Tsukahara: A family of vaults where the gymnast does a half twist onto the vaulting table. Here is Wang Yan of China doing a Tsukahara with a double twist.  

Tkatchev: On the uneven bars, a gymnast swings facing forward on the high bar and then propels her body over the bar backwards and catches it. Here is Cuba’s Marcia Videaux competing a tkatchev (0:24). There are many variations of the tkatchev:

Straddle Pike Layout
Giant Tkatchev (D) Piked Tkatchev (E)
Toe-On Ray (D) Church (E) Nabieva (G)
Clear Hip Hindorff (E) Shang (F)
Stalder Ricna (E) Downie (F)
Inbar Galante (E)

Toe-on: On the uneven bars, this is when a gymnast swings on the bar with her feet touching the bar. Here is Egypt’s Sherine El Zeiny performing a toe full (a toe-on with a full pirouette) (0:12).

Transition: When a gymnast moves from the low bar to the high bar, or vice-versa. A gymnast must do both to fulfill the composition requirements.

T&T: Trinidad & Tobago. This also stands for Tumbling and Trampoline.

TTY: Triple twisting Yurchenko vault. This has never been done by a woman, but it is considered the next step up from the Amanar and has been submitted as a new skill by Hong Un Jong at previous World Championships, though she has never competed it.

Tuck: A body position where the gymnast’s knees are tucked to her chest. Here is Lisa Ecker of Austria doing a double tuck on floor (0:29).


UB: Uneven Bars.

USAG: USA Gymnastics.

USOC: United States Olympic Committee.


Vika: Nickname for Viktoria Komova, the Russian gymnast who won the silver medal in the all-around in 2012. She is injured and is not competing in Rio.

VRod: Russian Head Coach Valentina Rodionenko.

VT: Vault.


WAG: Women’s Artistic Gymnasts, as opposed to MAG (Men’s Artistic Gymnastics).

WCC: World Champions Center, where Simone Biles trains.

Weiler: A hip circle on bars. Here is Vasiliki Millousi of Greece performing a Weiler (0:12).

WOGA: World Olympic Gymnastics Academy, where Madison Kocian trains. Also known for producing Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin.

Wolf jump: A jump on beam where one leg is bent and tucked under and the other is straight. Often used as a connection with other skills. Ailen Valente of Argentina does a wolf jump right after her split jump (0:45).

Wolf turn: A turn where the leg on which the gymnast turns is completely bent and the other one is completely straight. USA’s Ragan Smith does a double wolf turn on beam. (0:12)


Y turn: This is when a gymnast completes a pirouette with one leg all the way up to her head. Here is USA’s Gabby Douglas performing a double Y-turn, also known as a Memmel turn after Chelsea Memmel (0:48).

Yurchenko: Any vault where a gymnast does a roundoff onto the springboard and a back handspring (with or without twists) onto the vaulting table. This is by far the most common type of vault you will see at the Olympics. Here is Brittany Rogers of Canada performing a double-twisting Yurchenko (DTY).

Article by Jessica Price


24 thoughts on “The Four-Year Fan Guide: Gymternet Glossary

  1. OMG this is amazing. As an obsessed couch fan who has never done gymnastics, thanks SO much in particular for the detailed skill descriptions! Maybe I can become a judge yet…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not af all a four year fan but I still haven’t memorized all the eponymous Tkachev and Shaposh skills on bars. Those tables are so helpful! Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Words that should be defined, I think:

    – balk
    – ND or neutral deduction, with examples
    – ACL (for four-year fans lucky enough not to have to think about theirs)


  4. Great list, I especially appreciate the shaposh variations, but I think “A senior gymnast is a gymnast who will turn 16 in that year.” as a definition for senior is a bit ambiguous, because it implies gymnasts are only senior the year they turn 16. Maybe something like, “a gymnast who is age-eligible to compete in senior competition (e.g. the olympics); gymnasts turn senior the year they turn 16” or something along those lines


  5. Great article! A few corrections/clarifications you might consider:
    Handspring: the rudi is 1.5 twists, not 0.5
    Komova: these skills are both inbar, not toe on
    New life: perhaps you want to add this was introduced in 1989 worlds.
    You might mention who various skills were named for, such as Chow on bars (Amy Chow, USA gold medalist team 1996), Pak salto – Pak Gyong Sil North Korea 1989, a Ray for Elise Ray (USA Olympic Bronze medalist 2000), Yurchenko vault for World Champion Natalia Yurchenko
    ‘Switch’ definition doesn’t seem to address the idea that the leading foot ‘switches to become the back foot mid leap
    Weiler: do you want to clarify that a Weiler is a FRONT hip circle


  6. Pingback: A Quick Guide to Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Storylines – Personal Pensism

  7. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered | The Gymternet

  8. Pingback: From the Biles To the Wolf Jump, This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Talk Gymnastics – Atlas Obscura -

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s