The Uneven Bars, or “Bars” is one of the four women’s Olympic Gymnastics events, along with the Vault, Balance Beam and the Floor Exercise. In general, bar routines are composed of elements on both the high and low bars, along with release moves to move from bar to bar. However, lower gymnastics levels will only do skills on the lower bar. Bars requires extreme upper-body strength and coordination. Good bar routines will flow from one movement to the next without pauses or extra swings.
The bars are made of fiberglass with wood coating. They are called uneven bars, because there are two bars of different heights. The bar heights can be adjusted but the lower bar is usually set around 5.5 feet, the high bar set at 8 feet, with the distance between the two bars set around 6 feet.
Bar routines are composed of a mount, and a dismount, along with circling, turning and release skills. Most bar routines will have 5-8 skills. Beginner level routines will likely have less skills, with more advanced levels having longer routines composed of more skills. Here are some types of skills that will make up the routine:
- Mount: The skill used to get onto the bar. At lower levels that could be a pullover or a kip. And at higher levels the mount could be more advanced, and might involve a springboard.
- Casts: At lower levels a cast is just getting your hips off the bar, while you are in front support. At higher levels, gymnasts will be performing casts to handstand .
- Circling Skills: Circling skills are elements that gymnasts perform that has them traveling around the bar, starting from a front support position.
- Giants: Giants are skills done by gymnasts in later levels. In a giant the gymnast circles around the bar in a handstand position. Most gymnasts start giants in level 7.
- Dismount: The dismount is the skill used to get off of the bar. In lower levels the dismount could be an underswing, and at higher levels the dismount is many times a flyaway variation.
What Makes a Good Bar Routine?
- Good Body Position: For many elements on bars, keeping a straight line from the top of your head all the way to your feet is ideal. Some elements require your body to change shape, but keeping straight legs, and straight arms is always a must.
- Dynamics: A routine with elements that have good height and amplitude.
- Rhythm: A routine without pauses or stops, where elements flow from one to the other.
Bar routines are scored based on the difficulty of the routine and the execution. Deductions are taken on the execution of the routine for poor form (bent body, arms and legs) and the rhythm and dynamics of the routine are evaluated. If the gymnast falls during her bar routine, she has 30 seconds to get back up and continue her routine. A deduction from her score will be taken for the fall.