Gymnastics – Men’s Floor Exercise

Just another opinion is a thoughtful commenter on this site.

A recent observation:

… frankly, I find men’s floor routines a little silly as is. I’d much prefer them abandon the “floor” part of the routine and just use a strip. Tumble down, turn around, tumble back, repeat as necessary. I think it’s a little silly seeing them hitchkick and side-scale and prancey-hop to get into the corners. As is, it’s just a little too dancey for what I think they should be showing off. But that’s just my opinion.

Good point.

Men’s Floor exercise — in my opinion — was ruined by the Russian men. At one point in history Russia became the dominant gymnastics nation. A decision was made in Russia to minimize the connecting elements. What we traditionally called “the corner moves”.

The beginning of the end of artistry in Men’s Floor may well have been Andrianov.

Before that Floor was a very entertaining event. Menichelli from Italy, the 1964 Olympic champion, as one example.

Or even this guy …

Click PLAY or watch Kurt Thomas at the 1979 World Championships on YouTube.

In recent years only the occasional Floor routine offers much artistry, Shewfelt being the obvious example,

Instead of making Floor a tumbling competition — as acrobatic tumblers are far better — instead why don’t we deduct stops? Continuous motion required except for designated HOLD parts.

That’s what made Kurt Thomas so interesting to watch back in the day.

Kurt is a coach in Texas, now, of course.

Kurt Thomas Gymnastics


#1 wordsmith on 05.01.09 at 10:09 pm

So many routines look the same, as though crafted merely to fulfill difficulty requirements.

I miss some of intricate corner moves you used to see in the 70′s and 80′s, like neck kips with a quarter turn….stuff connected in a unique way. I can think of a number of little things that I’ve never seen repeated by anyone else….but which were athletically aesthetic.

#2 ... on 05.01.09 at 11:18 pm

I don’t know, I think that all of those corners done in the 70′s were silly. And anyway if floor was continuous with no stops then the quality and quantity of the actual tumbling passes would have to be reduced. It’s hard enough trying to pack 10 skills into 90 seconds let alone doing a bunch of silly spins and turns.

#3 apolytongp on 05.02.09 at 2:53 am

I like the silly spins and turns and back rolls better than stepping (for men or women). One reason why I liked Chellsies old floor routine more.

#4 shergymrag on 05.02.09 at 3:52 am

“I like the silly spins and turns and back rolls better than stepping (for men or women).”

::Falls over!:: What?!!!! !!! I thought you hated artistry.

#5 apolytongp on 05.02.09 at 7:55 am

I hate hand waving. Hate back arching. I like athletic movements. I conside kips, spins, breakdancing, illusions, backrolls, uprises, pirhouttes, Healy twirls, endo rolls, etc. to be athletic movements.

#6 apolytongp on 05.02.09 at 8:02 am

splits, V-seats, Mannas, etc. are good too. I think it’s insane that a 1 arm handstand is not more awarded. It is insanely difficult to do with legs together.

#7 MS on 05.02.09 at 8:49 am

I love Kurt :-)

I think the little stag leaps so many guys today do on fx to get into position are so cheesy. Or the little shuffle steps while awkwardly looking for the corner. Eeeew. One of the worst offenders in my opinion is Justin Spring. Zero artistry…

Even the greats Nemov and Xiaoshuang had no artistry, but at least they pointed their toes?!?

#8 anon on 05.02.09 at 11:55 am

Men’s routines are 70 seconds, not 90. I think they do fine with artistry. Sure, there are good and bad, but in men’s gymnastics, there is routine construction, unlike in tumbling, where it’s just skills. Men’s floor and women’s have always had very, very different goals/looks.

#9 Coach M on 05.02.09 at 2:25 pm

Floor is my favorite, but it’s because of the tumbling. I like seeing the strength moves and the body control with the handstand pirouettes and planches and flares, but we see those skills demonstrated on pommels, rings, p-bars, etc. The floor is about the tumbling for me, and I doubt there has ever been a floor exercise champion decided by flares and handstands. For the most part, it’s all about the tumbling combinations, and the execution of those combinations. Not that I think the sport needs a revolutionary change, but I’m in agreement with JAO that rather than side hitch, prance to the corners, we just accept walking and stepping as acceptable transitions to the corners for the next tumbling pass. In other words, optimize the routines to showcase the tumbling elements.

#10 Geoffrey Taucer on 05.02.09 at 3:00 pm

Anon summed up my thoughts pretty well.

#11 Just another opinion on 05.02.09 at 3:18 pm

What do we mean when we say “artistry,” especially in men’s gymnastics?

If artistry only means danciness, then I think that’s inaccurate. Floor is in a unique situation for that very reason; there’s simply more room and time and ability to add extra “things.” For example, there are no dance elements on rings. You’re either doing a skill, or you’re falling. There are no pauses on HB, no gap-fillers on vault. Every other event is a string of skills, each one, by the nature of the skill itself, must connect to the next skill (of course, the women occasionally get the pike-on-jump to HB on UB, but they also have beam, so I’m really only talking about the men here). But it’s different in floor, and maybe for that reason, we tend to confuse “artistry” with dancefulness. Maybe *we* don’t, maybe I’m the only one perceiving that mix-up. But surely we wouldn’t look at a great rings routine and say it didn’t have artistry, just because there were no dance elements would we? Isn’t there artistry in a PB routine, even though there’s no leap or jump or wavy arm?

I don’t mind dance. Dance can be great. But I don’t think it fits in, especially in those fragmented amounts, with the rest of the floor routine. Possibly just because when I see dance, I immediately want to interpret it, want to associate a mood or emotion with it, and that just doesn’t seem to fit with men’s routines, where they tumble-tumble-tumble with flat expressions, and then hop into a corner with an emotionless, flat expression, and don’t crack a smile until maybe, maybe at the end when they salute. The best women’s routines tell some kind of story with their choreography, (helped by the music of course) but that isn’t what’s going on in the men’s routines.

Sans dance, I still think it would have artistry, just the same as all their other events. The quality of movements, combinations and arragements, etc. would all demonstrate artistry. As a bad example, maybe 4 years ago I was at a men’s meet, (well, really boys’ meet) and saw a kid who, at that time (no idea if it’s still set up like this or not) was what was being called an “open 8,” and his HB routine had 11 giants in a row, nothing else beside a mount and dismount, just 11 giants in a row, each one getting him some additional tenths of a point until he could meet the start value necessary to compete level 8, or whatever the reason was. 11 giants in a row would, in my opinion, constitute terrible artistry, regardless of how well the giants were executed. Not because it lacked dance-like elements, but because it was absolutely not engaging.

I sometimes think that, 30 years from now, maybe we’ll look back at the little corner moves in the same way we look back at bar-beats now and other stuff we no longer do. I wasn’t around in this sport 30 years ago, so I don’t know if bar-beats were laughed at then, too, and if they were, my comparison is off.

#12 apolytongp on 05.02.09 at 4:45 pm

They were laughed at back then too.

I guess what I like are some of the interesting A/B moves on floor. Stuff that used to be in the compulsories. I don’t like the stretched facing movements and the like so much.

#13 coach Rick on 05.02.09 at 7:42 pm

to Just another opinion ..

Perhaps “artistry” is not the word I meant. Certainly I did not mean “dance”.

But I don’t want only tumbling, either. I’ll watch Acrobatic Tumbling for that.

A routine can still be of high quality with very few “corner moves” and transitions. If the line, form, toe point, rhythm, acceleration, etc. is nice to watch.

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