# Why don't they flip in circles?

Asked by ideabrian (404) August 14th, 2008

Why do the gymnastic events have people flipping and jumping in a square during their floor routine instead of a circle?

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A square is an easier shape to judge whether or not they run in a straight line, and corners clearly identify an end point to land at the end of a tumble. A circle would be difficult on a gymnast for choreography and blocking (where they need to be on the mat at each point in the routine).

sndfreQ (11739)

Well, it’s very difficult to tumble in a circle. You need to build up a lot of speed to do double flips with a triple twist off the floor. If you run in a circle, you are constantly losing speed, and you won’t be able to do your skills.

Some people have a hard time, at least when younger, in doing their tumbling in a straight line. So it is important to learn how to stay straight.

The rules are that you have to use each corner of the mat. That’s why they do a few tumbling runs on one diagonal, and then work their way over to the other diagonal and do another tumbling run there. Judges are also looking for control, so in addition to the ability to stay in a line, they want to make sure you don’t step out of bounds. Stepping out of bounds indicates you’ve lost it—maybe your balance, or maybe just miscalculating your run to start the skills.

wundayatta (58714)

@daloon, I didn’t mean running in circles, just running across the circle.

Both good answers. I’m just not convinced they couldn’t accomplish the same in a circle. Increase the size of the circle, put an x in it, whatever is required.

Information makes sense. Thanks.

ideabrian (404)

Do you mean on circular mats instead of square mats?

Oh, if so, the circular mat would be so much harder to manufacture, and so much more costly, and it would still have to have the same square platform underneath it, so it would mean you are using up more resources for less space. It’s just not efficient.

wundayatta (58714)

Also a circle reminds me of a ring, as in a big top (circus). They may not wan to project that image, unless they bring back Bela Karolyi with a top hat and a whip!

sndfreQ (11739)

Cirque Du Soleil anyone? ;-)

ideabrian (404)

Haha ideabrian, I love the music from that :)

Skyrail (1700)

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