From the Biles To the Wolf Jump, This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Talk Gymnastics - Atlas Obscura
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From the Biles To the Wolf Jump, This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Talk Gymnastics

Here are the complicated moves you may (or may not) see during the finals.

Simone Biles, mid-move, during the August 9th team competition.

Simone Biles, mid-move, during the August 9th team competition. (Photo: Agência Brasil Fotografias/CC BY 2.0)

Like most fans, gymnastics-heads speak in a dense tangle of slang. Spend time with them, even just on Twitter, and you get the sense that anything that happens out in the stadium can be summed up using some arcane series of hyphenated words. Gabby Douglas doesn’t get to compete in the individual all-arounds, despite scoring higher than most of the people who did? She got 2-per-country’d. Brutal. (When I asked fans on Twitter to tell me their favorites, they seemed more excited to spontaneously invent new ones.)

But some of that slang refers to straight-up moves. In gymnastics, the first person to pull off a new move during a World Championships gets to christen it with their own name, and it is forever known as such in the International Gymnastics Federation’s Code of Points. Thus, American champ Simone Biles has given us the “Biles”—a double layout with a half-twist. Essentially, she flips twice with her body fully extended, then twists around and lands without looking at the ground (a “blind landing”). It’s crazy. 

If you want to watch gymnastics with a truly critical eye, it helps to study up—you’ve got to know the point tiers, and be able to spot flaws in routines that are basically imperceptible to a mere mortal.

But if you just want to be able to toss off a worldly “woah, did you see that sick Produnova,” you can just use this guide. Read on for some of the most interestingly-named common gymnastics moves, helpfully illustrated with gifs.

Thanks to Jessica Price of the Gymternet and the fans of the Gymanstics Wiki for their invaluable resources!

Amanar

Named after Romanian gymnast Simona Amanar, this super tricky vault move involves doing a roundoff onto the springboard, a back handspring onto horse itself, launching into 2.5 backflips, and landing on your feet. Not a lot of people can pull it off, but the USA’s Aly Raisman did in the qualifiers, and she’ll almost certainly go for it again in the finals.

BHS/Flic Flac


These two terms are just new words for “back handspring,” which is cool no matter what you call it. 

The Dick

One of the sport’s newest moves, the Dick, was recently invented by Marisa Dick, of Trinidad and Tobago. It involves leaping onto the balance beam and landing in a full split. She welcomes any and all jokes. “I’ve just made it so easy for everyone,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

Endo
 

If you look closely, you’ll see that this gymnast’s hands are reverse-gripping the bar. Her legs are in what’s called a “stalder” (bonus word!) which means they’re spread apart and tucked behind her head. Add in a swing around the bar, and you’ve got a classic Endo, named after Japanese gymnast Yukio Endo.

Jaeger 

The Jaeger, named after German gymnast Bernd Jaeger, means letting go of the bar, flipping, and grabbing on again. There are different species of Jaeger, depending on what your legs are doing—piked, layout, straddled, even tucked. This one is straddled. If you mess up on a Jaeger, it’s probably not called a Jaeger Bomb. 

Produnova

The Produnova is another vault move—this time a full-tilt sprint into a front handspring and 2.5 somersaults (coincidentally, somersaults have their own name, “saltos”). India’s Dipa Karmakar will likely go after this one in the vault finals. 

Rudi

The Rudi, a forward, twisting somersault, can be performed on the floor or on the beam. Indeed, it can be performed wherever you please—in your yard, on your living room carpet, on the subway. Just kidding, you almost definitely can’t do a Rudi. 

Shaposh

Shaposh is short for Shaposhnikova, as in Natalia Shaposhnikova, a Soviet gymnast who took home two golds at the 1980 Moscow Games. It’s what is known as a “transition element,” in which a gymnast hops from bar to bar. A Shaposh involves going from low to high, essentially defying gravity by swinging entirely around the low bar.

Sheep Jump

Your average sheep would likely be jealous of this move, which is a leap that involves touching your toes to your head—thus losing sight of the beam—and then landing again. 

Wolf Jump

 

Where there are wolf jumps, there are obviously sheep jumps. A “wolf” move involves extending one leg perpendicularly outward—there are wolf jumps, wolf hops, even wolf turns. The wolf turn on beam is tricky enough to occasionally trip up Simone Wiles.