What’s a balance beam?

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The balance beam is a 16.4-foot-long and 4-inch-wide piece of equipment used in women’s gymnastics competitions. Gymnasts perform a series of steps, and routines last between 70 and 90 seconds. Points are deducted if the gymnast falls off the beam. Romania’s beam teaching method, called the Romanian beam complex, and the Soviet Beam Complex are two methods for training young gymnasts on the beam.

The balance beam is a piece of gymnastics equipment used in women’s gymnastics competitions. The wooden beam measures 16.4 feet (5 m) long and 4 inches (10 cm) wide. The balance beam is 4.1 cm (125 feet) high.

The gymnast mounts the beam with a vault or jump. She is then required to perform a series of steps including jumps, somersaults, spins, running, sitting and posing. A balance beam routine lasts between 70 and 90 seconds. The gymnast must walk the entire length of the beam. Routines must be performed with flexibility, grace, confidence and self-control and points are deducted if the gymnast falls off the beam.

At the 1952 Olympic Games, the first gold medal was awarded on beam. The gold medalist that year was Nina Bocharova from Russia. Nadia Comaneci, from Romania, won the gold medal on beam at the 1976 Olympics. Comaneci is widely regarded as one of the most gifted gymnasts to ever grace the beam. She is famous for performing an elegant beam routine during the 1979 World Championships. This feat was accomplished despite the blood poisoning she received from an infected cut on her arm.

Gymnastics coaches around the world saw the perfection of Comaneci’s performance on balance beam and wanted to learn Romania’s secret to churning out rock-solid gymnasts. They knew it was necessary to teach their gymnasts the Romanian method to be competitive on the world stage. Romania’s beam teaching method is called the Romanian beam complex and is a training method designed to teach gymnasts how to balance on the beam.

The method is performed by Romanian gymnasts every day before their beam exercises. The exercises last 30 to 45 minutes a day, and the method teaches students how to keep their body centered as their arms and legs move. This type of workout reduces or eliminates the number of times a gymnast falls off the beam. Students are taught to keep their hips and shoulders square with the apparatus. Hips and feet are uncovered, a practice dancers have employed for centuries.

Another method for training young gymnasts on beam is the Soviet Beam Complex. In this method, gymnasts practice handstands on the beam to build their strength. This gradual increase in strength allows a gymnast to learn to show more control over the beam and to move while she is in a handstand. The Soviet Beam Complex teaches students good landing habits as gymnasts roll across the beam. By practicing landings in a specific way, you create a margin for error, preventing or eliminating falls off the beam.

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