There is so much that goes into a gymnast executing a perfect routine. It takes years of practice and skill development to make the routine look flawless. Just as one routine is made of several complex and intricate movements, a complex set of rules govern artistic gymnastics.
Here are a few of the key rules governing artistic gymnastics during the 2012 London Olympics:
Each gymnast is allowed only one attempt to complete a routine on every apparatus, except women's vault. The only exception to this rule is if the gymnast's attempt is interrupted through circumstances that are no fault of the gymnast.
Gymnasts competing in women's vault are allowed to do two attempts. Their total score is averaged from both attempts.
Gymnasts can use spotters on certain apparatuses -- such as the high bar, rings, parallel bars and vault -- to prevent serious accidents from occurring. Getting help from a spotter during a routine is not a good idea. Gymnasts will suffer a deduction from their score for that event if they receive help.
Coaching a gymnast during his or her routine is prohibited. The gymnast and his or her coach are not even allowed to communicate until the event is finished.
A Helping Hand
Given the difficulty of the apparatus and their height above the ground, male gymnasts can receive help from another person getting into a starting position on the rings or the high bar.
No Compulsory Routines
Each gymnast has complete freedom to determine the composition of his or her routine. The only requirement is that the final routine must meet skill and difficulty criteria for that event.
No gymnast is allowed to leave the arena at any time during competition without first obtaining permission. A premature departure can lead to disqualification.
Leave the Bling Home
Gymnasts are not permitted to wear necklaces or bracelets during competition. The only jewelry permitted are small stud earrings on female gymnasts.
Raise Your Hand
Before the start of any routine, the gymnast must raise his or her hand to acknowledge the presence of the judges. Then, once finished, a gymnast must raise his or her hand again to again acknowledge the judges.
Once competition begins, gymnasts are not allowed to adjust the height of an apparatus for any reason.John Coon has covered gymnastics as a sports reporter for many publications and wire services. He and his girlfriend have also been past season ticket holders for University of Utah gymnastics meets.