bad legs for gymnastics …

Action-Sam on IG forum posted an important photo. Here’s a partial screen grab.

See the entire photo.

Three of the best gymnasts in the world. One is “normal”, one is bow-legged, one is … Rebecca Bross. You might call her knock-kneed.

Read the entire thread – Rebecca Bross … feet on UB… no nasty comments

Obviously you can be a World Champion with bow legs (i.e. Valeri Liukin) or knock-knees like Rebecca, but it’s not nearly as artistic.

Click PLAY or watch Rebecca’s Bars on YouTube.

The fact that her heels are apart is not nearly as obvious from the side, the judge’s perspective.


#1 Eve on 03.29.10 at 5:36 am

Actually, those legs on the right belong to Japanese gymnast Koko Tsurumi.

#2 MunchTheSilivasFan on 03.29.10 at 6:23 am

Koko Tsurumi is Japanese, didn’t you watch the worlds?

#3 Evelyn on 03.29.10 at 7:23 am

I think people are very cruel about the shape of Bross’s legs! Thats a perfectly watchable routine on bars and I can’t say the heels being apart detract from it. Her legs are super tight her skills are clean and flighty! People should be commenting how her legs are jammed together and toes pointed on that beautiful dismount! You dont see that too often!

#4 coach Rick on 03.29.10 at 8:35 am

Gak. Of course I did. … Will fix.

#5 coach Rick on 03.29.10 at 8:35 am

Thanks Eve.

#6 Tracy on 03.29.10 at 8:46 am

Knock-kneed can be tricky in gym. One of my girls is knock-kneed so to keep the toes together it causes a twist in the ankle. There were times when this caused great grief in landings. She would have one of her ankles injured because of landing with the ankle still twisted in to keep the toe point together. Ouch!

#7 Nicole on 03.29.10 at 11:40 am

My daughter is a knock-kneed gymnast. Our head coach tries to force her ankles together, but they just will not touch without knee bend. So I taught my daughter to do what Rebecca Bross does with the toes touching. Does anyone know if there’s a deduction for this? It seems that it doesn’t affect Bross’s scores.

#8 Emilyt on 03.29.10 at 2:37 pm

I think that Bridget is a little bow-legged, but I also think that she is standing with her feet together and Koko’s feet are turned out. When my feet are together, my legs bow out a little, but when I turn them out, my legs slightly twist and my knees come together.

Anyway, just a thought.

#9 Anon1 on 03.29.10 at 3:26 pm

I can’t believe someone’s anatomical shape is being discussed like this. The girl is not trying to make it into the Kirov, she is trying to be an athlete.

#10 Nik on 03.29.10 at 9:35 pm

Anon1- Anatomical shape IS gymnastics. Bent legs, arched back, flexed feet- that is what we judge on. Her legs look bent, it is a big point of discussion while watching her gymnastics. At least she has a reason, stacks of gymnasts have bent legs with no reason

#11 josh on 03.30.10 at 1:07 am

…I think that’s totally unfair. She’s an athelete not a ballett dancer. This is a sport no arts exihibtion or dance show.

#12 Nik on 03.30.10 at 3:51 pm

She is an athlete that gets judged on her form and body shape. That is what ALL gymnasts are judged on, that’s why Nastia won the olympics- better form than the field (along with difficulty). Shawn won beam because she had stuck landings, straight knees, essentially decent body shape. Gymnastics is a a sport and an exhibition at the same time, its not first-past-the-post it is judged on the way it LOOKS.

#13 Steven Low on 03.30.10 at 7:15 pm

The real problem is that we are allowing these dysfunctions to develop.

Poor posture, poor landing technique, poor biomechanics, etc. allow valgus and varus deformities to develop.

Unfortunately, landing with legs together exacerbates a lot of valgus deformity in most cases, as does landing with legs together on beam.

So sad.

#14 Anon1 on 03.31.10 at 11:22 am

@NIK.. When I say anatomical I mean in the sense of genetics. You are born with bowed legs and knocked knees. This is something that can’t be controlled. Being accused of bad form because you are born knock kneed is simply not right. And the funniest thing of all, is how no one cares that the men get away with inexplicably bad form while every1 wants the women to look like primas. Since everyone is always talking about how this is ‘artistic’ gym, shouldn’t these ‘standards’ be applied to both sexes performing under artistic gym?

#15 Coach M on 03.31.10 at 12:54 pm

I don’t think that’s true about the men. I think like in WAG the difficulty scores have enabled people with poor execution to score higher than normal, but athletes like Sasha Artemev who have very nice lines are generally rewarded for his “look” more than a gymnast who performs the same skills with unimpressive lines.

There will always be a subjective element of the sport to judge the beauty of the movements — which will take into account body lines that may be a genetic gift or in some cases a genetic fault.

#16 Coach M on 03.31.10 at 1:00 pm

And I think that people may be a bit more alarmed by this than necessary since Rebecca Bross was less than a point away from a world championship. The same genetics that may be responsible for her knocked knees are also responsible for strength and power and toughness that are allowing her to compete at the very highest level of the sport.

#17 Anon1 on 04.01.10 at 11:08 am

The difference is that someone like Artemev is the exception, where as Nastia is expected to be the rule in WAG.

#18 Steven Low on 04.01.10 at 8:43 pm


You are NOT born with valgus or varus dysfunctions in the vast majority of cases.

They DEVELOP. Due to STRESS on the joints.

#19 Bow legs can be sexy too on 08.01.10 at 1:55 am

It’s possible that many athletes with bow legs may be among some of the best, depending I suppose on the type of sport and what’s required. The shape of the leg may have advantages for example on stance and balance: If your legs/ankles are relatively far apart- legs wide– and your stance more stable, it is possible that your feet may be more flat to the ground if you are somewhat bow-legged, thereby giving one increased stability.

#20 VNG on 08.30.10 at 11:56 am

My daughter has knobby knees and cannot really straighten her legs fully at this point– we will try the toes together and see if that helps– ’cause Scores are not great despite her superior skills because of form. WHat can we do? Any suggestions, exercises, etc. Too bad we can’t give the judges a dr’s report!

#21 Mark on 07.27.11 at 1:47 pm

And the one with nice knees has flat feet/fallen arches!

#22 anon on 08.24.11 at 8:59 pm

look up the condition knock knees on wiki. if rebecca does have it it is a very minor case. i actually dont think rebecca has that at all, rather the size of her quadricep that makes it difficult for her to get the lower leg together. w

#23 anon on 08.24.11 at 9:01 pm

if you feel comfortable discriminating against the bigger, more
muscular athlete, then fine, bag out the knock knees

#24 Lisa on 12.30.11 at 7:06 pm

Rebecca is definitely knocked kneed. Bridget Sloan is only slightly bow legged. Dominique Dawes’ legs are a lot more bowed than Bridget’s. No one is badmouthing or putting them down for their bodies, people are just making observations.

#25 Christina on 03.18.12 at 10:14 pm

I knew of knock knees before I saw Rebecca, but not until I saw her compete bars did I really get it. It’s very noticeable looking dead on, but from the side it’s not as much. I guess that’s what counts, but I won’t lie, it’s hard not to notice.

#26 Andy on 03.31.12 at 8:13 pm

The one that is bow-legged is only slightly so. In fact alot of good athletes especially in sports in involving sports seem to have legs like that.

#27 Andy on 03.31.12 at 8:14 pm

Involving running I meant.

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