The pommel horse gets its name from way back in the day when military people used the apparatus to train different ways to quickly and efficiently get on their horses. Many gymnasts will agree that the pommel horse is by far the trickiest event. In order to stay on, a gymnast will need to maintain balance and momentum throughout the entire routine. While some gymnasts muscle through to stay on, one wrong hand placement or a change in the rhythm can cause a gymnast to be thrown off the apparatus (yes, like a horse). Generally, you will notice that a good performer on pommel horse will swing bigger and will maintain a good rhythm throughout his routine.
As gymnasts, we tend to work on this event a lot. One of the main reason is because we need to do more to gain consistency since the event can be so tricky (they say that practice makes perfect right?). The new Code also demands a lot of endurance (routines are longer than ever before), therefore, we need to spend more time on this event to gain the stamina necessary to finish the routine strong.
The requirements for the pommel horse are the following:
- Single leg swings/scissors (elements where the gymnast grabs the pommel section of the horse and swings his legs back and forth in a pendulum motion)
- Normal circling elements or elements that show pivoting motion (also known as spindles)
- Elements where gymnast travels the length of the horse
- Turning elements where gymnast changes directions
Check out a routine of me from Winter Cup 09:
Notice that I begin splitting my legs towards the end of the routine. Yes, this should not happen! One of the big thing about pommel horse, as mentioned above, is that it takes a lot of endurance to finish the routine strong. However, if this is what the Code expects then you can’t really fight it. There are three things that can improve consistency and endurance: practice, practice, and practice!