In the USA there are eleven achievement levels for women gymnasts. These have been established by USA Gymnastics (USAG), the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the United States.
Levels 1, 2, and 3 are known as the Competency Levels and focus on teaching basic gymnastics skills. When the gymnast completes each skill, she may move on to the next level. Levels 4, 5, and 6 are the Compulsory Levels and consist of pre-choreographed routines containing a series of skills that each gymanast must perform. Levels 7, 8, 9, and 10 are the Optional Levels–each gymnast performs her own routine. Level 11 is the Elite Level; each gymnast performs an optional routine. Depending on which category they compete in, Elites may also compete in skills testing.
The four Olympic events in women’s artistic gymnastics are vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. In this article, we will descibe the routines for the uneven bars for Level 1 through Level 11.
Level 1 routine, Uneven Bars
Four skills make up this routine: Pullover, Cast, Backward hip circle, and Cast push away. When these skills are completed, the gymnast may graduate to Level 2.
Level 2 routine, Uneven Bars
This level includes three skills from Level 1 plus two new skills: Pullover, Cast, Backward hip circle, Cast straddle on, and Sole circle dismount. After completing these skills, the gymanst may move to Level 3.
Level 3 routine, Uneven Bars
Eight skills are required for Level 3. This level continues to build on skills learned in Levels 1 and 2. The Level 3 skills are: Pullover, Cast, Backward hip circle, Single leg cut forward, Forward stride circle, Single leg cut backward, Cast legs straight on, and Piked sole circle dismount. Gymnasts move to Level 4 after completing these skills.
Level 4 routine, Uneven Bars
In most areas of the country, gymnasts have their first competition at Level 4. This is the first of the compulsory levels. Unlike the previous levels, the gymnast must completes these skills in order. The seven skills, in order, are: (1) Glide (straddle or pike) and return to stand with feet together, (2) Pullover, (3) Front hip circle, (4) Cast, single leg shoot through, (5) Forward stride circle, (6) Single leg cut the leg backward, and (7) Back hip circle – underswing dismount.
Note:Level 1 through 4 bar exercises can be performed on a gymnastics mini bar. These short high bars are designed specifically for children. They are usually 48″ wide and permit a standard 4 ft. wide mat to be used underneath. Most models are height adjustable from about 30″ tall to around 50″-60″ inches tall and can support gymnasts weighing up to 125 lbs. The Jr Kip Bar is one popular model. Norbert’s Althletic Products Inc. in San Pedro, CA also supplies a popular mini bar model. Visit GymnasticsMiniBar.com to learn more about gymnastics training bars.
Level 5 routine, Uneven Bars
This is the second compulsory level. There are twelve skills, in order, to be completed at this level. The Level 5 skills are: (1) Glide Kip (straddle or pike), (2) Front hip Circle, (3) Cast to horizontal and return to support, (4) Cast squat or pike on, (5) Long hang kip, (6) Cast to horizontal, (7) back hip circle, (8) Underswing, (9) Counter swing to 30° below horizontal, (10) Tap Swing forward, (11) Counter swing to 15° below horizontal, and (12) Tap swing forward with ½ turn dismount.
Level 6 routine, Uneven Bars
This is the highest of the three compulsory levels. The twelve skills for Level 6 are: (1) Glide Kip(straddle or pike), (2) Cast to 30° above horizontal, (3) Free hip circle to 30° above horizontal, (4) Glide kip(straddle or pike), (5) cast squat or pike on back tuck sole circle jump to high bar OR squat on jump to high bar, (6) Long hang kip, Cast to 30° above horizontal, (7) Baby giant, (8) Underswing, (9) Counter swing to 15° below horizontal, (10) Tap Swing forward, (11) Counter swing to horizontal, and (12) Tap swing forward to flyaway in tuck, pike, or layout.
Levels 7 through 11, Uneven Bar routines
These are the optional levels–there are no pre-choreographed routines. Gymnasts perform their own routines. The routines are based on the latest rules published every four years by the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG). The FIG rules dictate the composition of each routine (what it must contain), the difficulty, and how to evaluate how well it was performed.
Level 11 is the Elite Level–these are Olympic-caliber gymnasts. At this level, they are performing complex and difficult routines requiring all of the skills listed above. It takes much practice and a very high degree of dedication to reach this level. Good luck, and bring home the gold!