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Vault (gymnastics)

Vault (gymnastics)

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The vault is an artistic gymnastics
Artistic gymnastics
Artistic gymnastics is a discipline of gymnastics where gymnasts perform short routines on different apparatus, with less time for vaulting . The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique , which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite...

 apparatus, as well as the skill performed using that apparatus. Vaulting is also the action of performing a vault. Both male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

 and female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

Gymnasts are people who participate in the sports of either artistic gymnastics, trampolining, or rhythmic gymnastics.See gymnasium for the origin of the word gymnast from gymnastikos.-Female artistic:Australia...

s perform the vault. The English abbreviation for the event in gymnastics scoring is VT.

The apparatus

The apparatus itself originated as a "horse", much like the pommel horse
Pommel horse
The pommel horse is an artistic gymnastics apparatus. Traditionally, it is used by only male gymnasts. Originally made of a metal frame with a wooden body and a leather cover, modern pommel horses have a metal body covered with foam rubber and leather, with plastic handles .- History :The pommel...

 but without the handles; it was sometimes known as the vaulting horse. The horse was set up with its long dimension perpendicular to the run for women, and parallel for men. The vaulting horse was the apparatus used in the Olympics for over a century, beginning with the Men's vault in the first modern Olympics
Gymnastics at the 1896 Summer Olympics - Men's vault
The men's vault was one of the eight gymnastics events on the Gymnastics at the 1896 Summer Olympics programme. The third event, it was held on 9 April. 15 athletes from five nations competed. The Germans captured the gold and bronze medals, while Zutter won the silver for...

 and ending with the Men's and Women's gymnastics at the 2000 Olympics
Gymnastics at the 2000 Summer Olympics
At the 2000 Summer Olympics, three different gymnastics disciplines were contested: artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline. The artistic gymnastics and trampoline events were held at the Sydney SuperDome on September 16–25 and September 22–23, respectively...

The horse has been blamed for several serious accidents over the years. In 1988, American Julissa Gomez
Julissa Gomez
Julissa D'anne Gomez was an American gymnast whose rapid rise through the ranks of elite gymnastics in the mid-1980s was cut short by a vaulting accident in 1988 that left her a quadriplegic...

 was paralyzed in a vaulting accident; she died from complications from her injuries three years later. During warmups at the 1998 Goodwill Games
Goodwill Games
The Goodwill Games was an international sports competition, created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games of the 1980s...

, Chinese gymnast Sang Lan
Sang Lan
Sang Lan is a former Chinese gymnast, television personality and student.-Athletic career and injury:Sang achieved excellence in gymnastics at a young age, winning the all-around and every single event final at the 1991 Zhejiang Province Championships. By 1995 she was competing nationally...

 fell and suffered paralysis
Paralysis is loss of muscle function for one or more muscles. Paralysis can be accompanied by a loss of feeling in the affected area if there is sensory damage as well as motor. A study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, suggests that about 1 in 50 people have been diagnosed...

 from a cervical-spine
Cervical vertebrae
In vertebrates, cervical vertebrae are those vertebrae immediately inferior to the skull.Thoracic vertebrae in all mammalian species are defined as those vertebrae that also carry a pair of ribs, and lie caudal to the cervical vertebrae. Further caudally follow the lumbar vertebrae, which also...

 injury. In series of crashes when the horse's height was set too low at the 2000 Olympics, gymnasts either rammed into the horse's front end, or had bad landings after having problems with their hand placements during push-off.

Following the 2000 problems, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)
Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique
The Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique or International Federation of Gymnastics is the governing body of competitive gymnastics. Its headquarters is in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was founded on July 23, 1881 in Liège, Belgium, making it the oldest international sport organisation...

 re-evaluated and changed the apparatus, citing both safety reasons and the desire to facilitate more impressive acrobatics. The 2001 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
2001 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
The 35th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships were held in Ghent, Belgium, in 2001 at the Flanders Sports Arena. This was the first Worlds at which the 6-3-3—six athletes per team, three compete, all three scores count—format was used in team finals...

 were the first international competition to make use of the "vaulting table", an apparatus made by Dutch gymnastics equipment company Janssen-Fritsen
Janssen-Fritsen Gymnastics b.v. is a manufacturer of professional gymnastics equipment and apparatus, based in the Netherlands. Janssen-Fritsen has supplied equipment to a number of world, European and continental championships, and four Olympic Games....

 since the mid-1990s. It features a flat, larger, and more cushioned surface almost parallel to the floor, which slopes downward at the end closest to the springboard; gymnasts nicknamed it the "tongue"; it appears to be somewhat safer than the old apparatus.

In 2007, Dutch junior gymnast Imke Glas
Imke Glas
Imke Glas is an Dutch artistic gymnast.-Personal life:Glas was born on August 30, 1994, in Broek op Langedijk, Netherlands. She lives with both of her parents and two siblings.-Junior career:...

 was seriously injured after a fall on a vault.


  • Length: 120 centimetres (3.9 ft) ± 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in)
  • Width: 95 centimetres (3.1 ft) ± 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in)
  • Height:
    • Men: 135 centimetres (4.4 ft) ± 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in)
    • Women: 125 centimetres (4.1 ft) ± 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in)
  • Run up area:
    • Length: 2500 centimetres (82 ft) ± 10 centimetres (3.9 in)
    • Width: 100 centimetres (3.3 ft) ± 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in)


To perform a vault, the gymnast runs down a runway (the run), which is usually padded or carpeted. They hurdle onto a springboard and spring onto the vault with their hands (the preflight or first flight, and block). For vaults in the Yurchenko
Yurchenko (vault)
Yurchenko is the name of both a specific vault and a vault family in artistic gymnastics. The Yurchenko was named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, who originated the vault in the early 1980s....

 family, the gymnast will put their hands onto a mat that is placed before the springboard, round-off onto the board and do a back handspring onto the vault. The off-flight may be as simple as leaping over the apparatus or as complicated as executing several twists and turns in the air. The gymnast then lands on the mat on the other side of the apparatus.

Scoring and rules

Gymnasts are expected to land cleanly, with no hops or steps, and within a set landing zone on the landing mat. They must also demonstrate good technique and execution in the actual vault. Falling or stepping on landing incurs deduction, as will lack of height off the table, or distance from the table.

Gymnasts (both male and female) show one vault in Qualification, Team Final, and All Around Final. In the Apparatus Finals gymnasts must show two vaults. For men, the two vaults must be from different element groups, while women must show two vaults with different repulsion from the vault table.

Apparatus specific rules

Yurchenko style vaults must have a safety collar in place. Gymnasts who do not use this collar will be judged as an invalid vault.

Every vault is assigned a specific number; this number is displayed on a board or electronic screen before the gymnast begins. There is no deduction for flashing one vault number and performing a different one. However, gymnasts will be penalised if they fail to show the number.

If a female gymnast balks, for example stops in the middle of the runway or breaks their run before touching the springboard no deductions are taken. The gymnast is given thirty seconds to return to the end of the runway and make a second attempt at the vault. If, however, the gymnast touches any portion of the springboard or vault itself, they receive a score of zero and may not make another attempt. Ekaterina Kramarenko touched the vault and was given a zero during the team final at the 2007 World Championship. Male gymnasts receive a score of 0 if they do not vault once they start running. Both male and female gymnasts receive a score of 0 if they fail to land on their feet first.

Receiving spotting assistance from a coach, or not touching the vault table will result in a score of 0. Vaulting before the judge has signaled the gymnast can vault once also resulted in a score of 0; this deduction has since been removed. An example of this would be at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games to Anna Pavlova
Anna Pavlova (gymnast)
Anna Anatolyevna Pavlova , is a Russian artistic gymnast training at MGFSO Dynamo in Moscow who was a double bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She is well known for her beautiful balletic style and clean technique. She is trained by her mother Nataliya Evgenevna Pavlova...

 during the Vault event final on her second vault.

Vault families

Vault styles are broken into various groups. The group a vault style fits into is determined by the action performed during the vaulting movement.

Vault groups (Men)

There are five vault categories for men:
  • Direct vaults
  • Vaults with 1/1 turn in the first flight phase
  • Handspring and Yamashita style vaults
  • Vaults with 1/4 turn in the 1st flight phase (Tsukahara
    Tsukahara (vault)
    The Tsukahara can refer to a specific vault and a family of vaults in artistic gymnastics. The first Tsukahara vault was performed by Mitsuo Tsukahara in 1972....

  • Round off entry vaults (Yurchenko
    Yurchenko (vault)
    Yurchenko is the name of both a specific vault and a vault family in artistic gymnastics. The Yurchenko was named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, who originated the vault in the early 1980s....


  • Sebastian Terry, a twisted hands-on-board push off

Vault groups (Women)

There are five vault categories for women:
  • Handspring, Yamashita, round-off with or without longitudinal-axis (LA) turn in 1st and/or 2nd flight phase
  • Handspring forward with/without 360° turn in 1st flight phase, salto forward with/without LA turn in 2nd flight phase
  • Tsukahara
    Tsukahara (vault)
    The Tsukahara can refer to a specific vault and a family of vaults in artistic gymnastics. The first Tsukahara vault was performed by Mitsuo Tsukahara in 1972....

     style vaults
  • Yurchenko
    Yurchenko (vault)
    Yurchenko is the name of both a specific vault and a vault family in artistic gymnastics. The Yurchenko was named after Soviet gymnast Natalia Yurchenko, who originated the vault in the early 1980s....

    style vaults
  • Round-off with ½ LA turn in 1st flight phase, salto forward with or without LA turn in 2nd flight phase

In the USA Program, level fives and sixes do front handsprings on vault. Level fours do handstand flatbacks on vault. Level seven all the way to elite can perform a variety of vaults.

External links