In women's gymnastics, floor exercise can be one of the more entertaining events, mostly due to the fact that a floor routine is more of a "performance" than the other three events. The music, choreography, dance, and tumbling skills must come together in a seamless and cohesive manner, and must be performed with the utmost artistry. What is "artistry", you ask? Artistry is defined in the code of points as the quality and creativity of choreography and elements/connections, the quality of movement to reflect the gymnast's personal style, and the quality of expression.
As a gymnast, floor was by far my favorite and my best event. As a judge, when I judge floor (particularly optional or prep-op floor), I look specifically for artistry and the quality of performance. When it comes to floor, I place a high value on performance and artistry, whether I am doing floor myself as a gymnast, coaching it, or judging it.
To me, choosing floor music is the most important step in producing a good floor routine. If the gymnast doesn't like the music, she will not perform the routine. It's important that the gymnast picks music that complements her personality and her style of gymnastics. Remember, she has to hear this song multiple times a day, almost every day, so it also has to be a song that she will not easily grow tired of, as she has to keep the routine for a minimum of one year. During my senior year of college, I had some of the best floor scores of my career, and I really believe it's because the music I chose was highly reflective of my personality; moreso than any other I had done before. I also place a high value on unique music. In the gymnastics world, sometimes you feel like you hear the same 15 floor music pieces over and over, and as a coach, I try to discourage my gymnasts from choosing a piece of music that has been done a million times before.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good choreography. It will make or break the routine. Over the years I've had to opportunity to see several gymnasts compete floor who have beautiful gymnastics, but their routine falls flat due to lackluster choreography. Remember, floor exercise is a performance! Choreography must be original, and it must reflect the personality and style of the gymnast. Without good choreography, a floor routine is nothing more than a series of flips and leaps done to music.
A gymnast is required to have leaps, jumps, and turns in their floor routine. By the time the gymnast gets to a place in her gymnastics (whether it's level 7 or prep-op), she can choose which jumps and leaps she puts in her routine, and play to her particular strengths. For example, if a gymnast is not good at straddle jumps (required in the level 5 and 6 compulsory floor routine), she can choose a different jump that she can execute better and thus, have a better chance at a high score.
The most obvious aspect of the floor routine is the tumbling elements. A gymnast must perform several tumbling passes and combinations throughout her routine that fulfill the requirements of her level.
I've chosen 6 of my favorite floor routines (3 elite, 3 collegiate) to add to this post. I chose them because I think they best demonstrate all of the above aspects of the floor routine, and most of all, I find them entertaining and engaging!
#1: Jordyn Wieber
I chose this routine because I love the choreography and I think it really suits Jordyn's style of gymnastics. The music choice is not something I would ever personally choose, but the choreography really complements it! The ending is my favorite
#2: Ksenia Afanasyeva
Ksenia is a Russian gymnast, and she is absolutely magnificent on this event! Her movements are so captivating and elegant, and you can really see why she was a world champion on floor exercise!
#3: Lloiminicia Hall
"Mincie" as she is called by her LSU teammates has a floor routine that is a far cry from the one above as far as style goes. But she is one of my favorite NCAA floor performers. This routine really captures her personality and captures the attention of everyone in the room! She scored a perfect 10.0 on this routine!
#4: Dana McDonald
UCLA's floor routines stand out among the crowd. Their unique choreography is done by head coach Valerie Condos-Field. I can spot UCLA choreography from a mile away! I chose this routine because the originality of the choreography and movement is amazing.
#5: Victoria Moors
Victoria is a Canadian gymnast and she won this event at the American Cup, and it's not hard to see why! She is such a dynamic performer on this event. Look for Miss Diane as a line judge in the corner after the first tumbling pass!
#6: Keeley Smith
Keeley was a gymnast for UNH a few years back, and I remember being in love with this floor routine! She was one of the first people to use Shipping Up To Boston (by the Dropkick Murphys) as floor music, and it is a very popular choice now. I just love this choreography, and she such a great performer that I still remember the routine 5 years later! (I just wish the video quality was better)
Can you see why floor is my favorite event? There are literally endless possibilities on the construction of a floor routine, and it is the one chance in gymnastics where the gymnast can really show the judges her personality and put a piece of herself into their routine.
Peace, love, and gymnastics,
Spectrum Gymnastics Academy
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About the Author
Coach Sarah is a former Rhode Island College gymnast, NCGA National qualifier, All-American, current gymnastics coach and judge, and contributor for the gymnastics news source, The Gymternet. Find out what's going on at Spectrum and learn more about the incredible sport of gymnastics!