The architecture of agility explained: scoring, tumbling, and acrobatics

UMHB now has an Acrobatics and Tumbling team. But what does that mean? How does that differ from gymnastics in the Olympics? In women’s gymnastics competitions there are three apparatuses used: vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Men’s gymnastics involve parallel bars instead of unevens, and rings instead of the balance beam.) In contrast, acrobatics and tumbling does not involve equipment. Acrobatics and tumbling consist of tosses, tumbling, pyramids and acrobatic lifts. Teams typically compete in six events: compulsories, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling and a team event. The meets consist of two to four teams competing in head to head and team events.

The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association defines acrobatics and tumbling as, “the evolution of different forms of gymnastics.”  Gymnastics is defined as a physical exercise of coordination and strength.

A typical meet would go like this:

The first event is compulsory. Each team competes with identical previously determined skills with a 10.0 starting value. This skill can be a back salto to ground or possibly a front salto (a flip that does not involve hands) dismount. These examples were used because they are the types of skills that most people think of when referencing gymnastics or similar sports.

The second event is acrobatics (often shortened as acro), which is where two to four athletes compete against another team in acrobatic movements. Teams compete to win a total of 30 points in this event.

“Acrobatics looks like athletic stuff that is really hard to do, and with just one wrong move something very bad could happen,” freshman pre-med biology major Chloe Wilson noted.

Event three is the pyramid; teams compete to win a maximum of 30 points. For this event, teams want to use as few athletes as possible. This can help create more difficult pyramids, thus earning more points. The athletes manipulate their bodies to create the pyramids.

Next, there is a halftime of approximately 15 minutes where teams warm-up for the second half of the competition. The team may practice on the practice mats, stretch their muscles or amplify their level of excitement for the next events.

The next even is the toss. This event consists of four athletes tossing a fifth athlete in the air, while the fifth athlete completes flips and/or twists forward or backward. Two of the tosses will be solo while the third while is synchronized with another athlete who is being tossed in the air by four athletes of the same team. This event has a possible overall score of 30 points.

The fifth event is tumbling. This event has a maximum of 60 points. Athletes have the option to compete in a synchronized portion and one solo pass. Audience members observe athletes completing difficult flips and twist in succession.

The sixth and final event is the team event. Athletes perform a two-and-a-half-minute synchronized routine to music. Each team competes with up to 24 athletes. Routines in this event will encompass skills from the other five events. Teams have the potential to earn a maximum of 110 points, which makes this an extremely important event.


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