The uneven parallel bars or asymmetric bars is an artistic gymnastics apparatus. It is used only by female gymnasts. It is made of a metal or steel frame. The bars are made of wood, plastic, or composite materials. The English abbreviation for the event in gymnastics scoring is UB or AB, and the apparatus and event are often referred to simply as "bars" or "uneven bars".

Dimensions Edit

Measures of the apparatus are published by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) in the Apparatus Norms brochure.

  • Height including about 30 cm for landing mats:
    • upper bar: 245 cm (approx 8 feet)
    • lower bar: 165 cm (approx 5 feet, 5 inches)
  • Width of bar: approx 1.5 inches
  • Length of the bars: 240 cm(approx 8 feet)
  • Diagonal distance between the two bars: 130–180 cm (adjustable)

to get the right amount height for the jump

Routines Edit

To perform a routine on the uneven bars, the gymnast:

  1. Mounts the apparatus. Depending on the skills of the gymnast and level of competition, the mount may be as simple as a pullover or as complicated as a flip onto the bar.
  2. Performs the actual routine, which will include swings and at the higher levels of competition, giant swings, handstands and release elements (skills in which the gymnast lets go of the bar and regrasps it). The gymnast will also be expected to demonstrate at least one bar change, i.e. moving from the low bar to the high bar or vice versa.
  3. Dismounts the apparatus and lands on the mat.

In USAG levels 1-6, everyone in the same level performs the same compulsory routine. In levels 7 through Elite, gymnasts make up their own routines within specific requirements.

Evolution Edit

The uneven bars apparatus originally consisted of men's parallel bars set to different heights. Consequently, the bars were very close together, and gymnasts could transition from one to the other with little difficulty. Routines of the early 1950s chiefly consisted of simple circles, kips, and static balance elements and holds. In the late 1950s the trend shifted toward fluid motion, and gymnasts began to perform routines composed of more difficult circles, kips, beats (bouncing the body off the low bar while hanging from the high bar), wraps (wrapping the body around the low bar while hanging from the high bar) and transitions. Release moves also began to come into play, although they were almost entirely limited to transitions between the low and high bars.

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, companies began manufacturing uneven bars as a separate specific apparatus. The design was changed slightly to allow the bars to be adjustable, with tension cables that held the apparatus to the floor. As a result of this change, coaches could set the bars further apart. Additionally, the circumference of the bars themselves decreased, allowing gymnasts to grasp and swing from them with greater ease.

As other events in gymnastics increased in difficulty, so did the uneven bars. Gymnasts and coaches began tinkering with elements, attempting more challenging dismounts, and adapting moves from men's high bar. In 1972 Olga Korbut pioneered the Korbut Flip, the first high bar Somersault|salto release move. Nadia Comaneci continued the trend with her original Comaneci salto at the 1976 Summer Olympics and advanced handstand elements four years later. The giant swing, the staple of high bar in men's artistic gymnastics (MAG), was also adopted into the women's Code of Points, and quickly became a basic uneven bars skill.

By the mid 1980s, routines had become so based on swing and release moves that the bars were moved even further apart. The distance between bars increased even more as gymnasts developed difficult transition elements that required space, such as the Pak salto.

Of all the apparatus in women's artistic gymnastics (WAG), uneven bars is probably the one that has seen the most radical changes. Most elements from 1950s and 60s bars routines, such as the Hecht dismount and the Radolcha somersault, are now completely obsolete; others, such as the once-traditional beats and wraps, are impossible given the current diagonal length between bars; and still others, such as static holds and the Korbut Flip, are not permitted under the current Code of Points.

Scoring and rules Edit

Judges score routines based on difficulty, form, technique and composition. Deductions are taken for execution errors, poor form, falls, pauses, "empty " swings (extra swings that do not lead into another skill), steps on the dismount, and other mistakes. Falls incur an automatic deduction; at the elite level this is 0.8; in compulsory gymnastics the deduction is 0.5.

Olympics/World Championships level scoring Edit

At the elite/world class level, as with other gymnastic events, scoring is based on the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique's Code of Points.

Gymnasts are required to demonstrate skills from five specific element groups, including a release move (any skill in which the gymnast lets go of the high bar, performs a salto or other flight element, and returns to the same bar) and transition moves with flight from low bar to high bar and high bar to low bar, close bar elements are also required. They are expected to demonstrate a fluid swing and hit vertical handstands on the bar. The dismount is important: the skill performed must carry at least a 'D' difficulty rating. To achieve a maximum score and avoid deductions, the dismount must have a "stuck" landing, with both feet hitting the mat at the same time, feet together, with no steps, hops or strides required to maintain balance.

Universal rules and conventions Edit

There are many rules and conventions that apply to the uneven bars at all levels, from Olympic to recreational competition.

Gymnasts are permitted to tape their hands or use grips or hand guards on bars. They are also permitted to chalk up the bars; ie, use chalk or water to make the apparatus less slippery. Other gymnasts or coaches may help an athlete chalk the bars.

Unlike high bar and rings in men’s gymnastics, gymnasts may not be lifted to the uneven bars to begin their routines. They may mount the apparatus with either a simple or a difficult skill, on either the high or low bar; running mounts and springboards are permitted.

Once the routine has started, the coach may not physically interfere with the athlete in any way, however, he or she is permitted to stand on the mat during release moves and dismounts. If the gymnast falls on one of these skills, her coach is allowed to catch her or break her fall; the coach is also allowed to lift her back to the high bar to continue her routine. If a springboard has been used for the mount, the coach or another member of the gymnast's team is allowed to quickly step in and remove it so that it does not impede the routine.

If a gymnast falls from the apparatus, she has 30 seconds to re-mount. Within this time limit, she is allowed to readjust her grips or chalk her hands again, if necessary. However, if she does not return to the bars within 30 seconds, she is not permitted to continue her routine.

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