Gymnastics is a combination of power and grace that produces jaw-dropping movements.
These feats are amazing to us software developers. We are also grateful for the inspiration top gymnasts give young athletes around the globe, and their work hard to take the gold medal.
We have compiled 14 of the most challenging moves in gymnastics that women have ever attempted to compete. These moves are sure to inspire. These moves include the Jurkowska–Kowalska on balance beam and the Biles and Biles II floor exercise, and the Produnova vault.
We hope that you enjoy learning as much about them as we do watch them.
What are the Most Difficult Gymnastics Skills to Master on the Floor?
Floor gymnastics is a combination of strong tumbling skills and artistic movements. The gymnast cannot navigate on beams, gymnastic rings, or other apparatus. Floor gymnastics is the most difficult.
Double salto with a twist (180deg). To maintain the layout position and perform two flips at high speed, this skill requires core strength. Blind landing requires technical skills as well as strength to perform this movement. Blind landing is when the gymnast cannot see the ground inverted. The skill is therefore highly dependent upon muscle memory and control. Mid-air adjustments cannot be made!
Origin: American gymnast Simone Biles won the first double salto with a half twist at the World Championships 2013 in Antwerp.
Level Of Difficulty G (5.703)
Double back salto with two full twists (720deg). To intertwine two twists and two flips take finesse. This skill also requires enough power to propel the athlete high enough to perform their flips and rotations without losing control. The Silivas was the most difficult floor skill for gymnastics, and it remained so until Victoria Moors completed the skill in layout (see The Moors II).
Origin At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul (Korea), Daniela Silivas, from Romania, was the first to complete the double salto with two full twists.
Level Of Difficulty H (5.802)
The Moors II
The Moors II double salto has a double twist (720deg in layout position). Similar to the Silivas, the double-twisting double layout demands a lot of power from the gymnast to reach the right height to perform both flips and twists. This skill is extremely difficult because of the inertia caused by flips and twists that force a gymnast to bend at the knees. To counter these forces, the gymnast must be strong and maintain its layout position.
You will notice that gymnasts who do not perform this skill well, often cannot counteract inertia. They complete the skill with bent knees and flexed feet, as opposed to straight legs and strong pointed toes.
Origin Victoria Moors, a Canadian gymnast, was the first to achieve the double-twisting double placement in competition at the World Championships 2013 in Antwerp.
Level Of Difficulty I (5.903)
The Biles II – Triple-double
A double-back salto, tucked with an extra twist (1080deg). The Biles II floor gymnastics skill is among the most difficult. This move adds an extra twist to the Silivas, which was the most difficult gymnastics move in a quarter century. Triple-double gymnasts must generate more power to be able to control the skill. This skill will be the most difficult in women’s gymnastics for 25 years.
Origin: Simone Biles, U.S.A., was the first woman’s gymnast who completed the skill at 2019 U.S.A. Gymnastics Championships, Kansas City, U.S.A.
Level Of Difficulty J (N/A)
What is the Most Difficult Vault Gymnastics Skill?
Vault is not practiced in the same way as beam, floor, and beam. Gymnasts cannot make up for any slips and falter. Gymnasts only have one chance to master the vault.
Also known as the “Vault of Death”, the Produnova vault has a front hand-spring onto a vault table with two tucked saltos at the vault. The Produnova used to be listed at a higher difficulty level, but it was re-scored due to complaints that gymnasts who did not perform the Produnova correctly were scoring much higher than those who performed the vault well. Although the scoring of this vault has been reduced, it remains tied with The Biles for second place in difficulty.
Why is the Produnova vault so hard? Because it requires a lot of power to complete the tucked saltos. The entire skill can only be completed blindly. The vault handspring and the saltos allow the gymnast only to see the floor for a fraction. This means that timing and muscle memory are crucial in landing the skill.
Because of its high injury potential, the Produnova has been criticized. The Produnova is a dangerous technique, but every now and again a gymnast will use it to compete internationally. Dipa Karmakar, an Indian gymnast, completed the Produnova in Rio Olympics 2016. You can read more about Dipa Karkar in our female role model article.
Origin: Yelena PRODUNOVA was the first to complete this vault at the 1999 World Championships, Tianjin (China).
Level Of Difficulty I (6.40)
This vault was named after the Chinese vault goddess Cheng Fei. It is a Yurchenko halves-on to a front rudi (a layout front flip with 1.5 twists off the table).
The gymnast performs a round-off onto a board and then a half-turn onto the table so that she is facing the table. The gymnast pushes forward and performs a rudi. She then lands on her back facing the table.
Who does it? This vault is only performed by Cheng and very few other female gymnasts. It has been performed by the sisters from North Korea, Hong Su Jong (North Korean), and Hong Un Jong (Brazil). It has been done by Vanessa Zamarripa and Mykayla Skinner, but not in international competition. It has been attempted by more gymnasts in the tucked position. This was invented and named after Svetlana Khorkina, a Russian Olympic champion.
Roundoff entry onto springboard with half-twist onto the table and front salto layout with one twist (540deg). Due to its difficulty, this vault is not often attempted by women’s gymnastics. To be able to vault, the Cheng requires that gymnasts complete roundoff onto the springboard. The Cheng means that the gymnast will be carrying their full speed and power back to the vault table when they hit the springboard.
You must complete the front salto by doing one and a quarter turns off the table. Then, you need to carry upward momentum from their blind twisting entrance. This is more complicated than just generating power from the springboard to the vault and then moving up into the air to perform more common vaulting skills.
Origin: Cheng Fei from China was the first woman’s gymnast ever to complete the vault at the 2005 World Championships in Australia.
Level Of Difficulty (6.0).
Round-off entry onto springboard with half-twist onto the table and front salto layout (720deg). Biles adds an additional twist to Cheng’s extreme difficulty. This not only makes the movement more difficult, but also requires the gymnast to do another half turn. The Biles on vault is therefore tied for the second most difficult vault.
Origin This skill was performed for the first time by American gymnast Simone Biles, at the 2018 World Championships held in Doha (Qatar).
Level Of Difficulty I (6.40).
The Yurchenko Double Pike
Round-off onto the springboard, followed by a back handspring onto the table and a piked double salto from the vault. The Yurchenko Double Pike Vault, which is similar to the Biles II on the floor (the triple-double), has been only completed by men. Only five male gymnasts have ever competed in this vault, which is considered a difficult skill.
This vault is difficult for many reasons. The gymnast must have enough power to hit the fault and be able to perform two piked saltos. The human body’s natural desire to flip backward in a piked position is not compatible with harnessing that power in a piked pose. The body naturally desires to be flatter when performing any type of back salto. Maintaining a straight-legged pike position takes extra strength and technique. Finally, two piked backflips produce a lot of spinning force that the gymnast must absorb and control when their feet touch the mat.
Origin This skill was performed for the first time by American gymnast Simone Biles, at the 2021 United States Classic held in Indianapolis, U.S.A.
Level Of Difficulty N/A (6.60).
Amanar (Yurchenko 2.5)
Named after Simona Amanar (Romanian Olympic champion), the Amanar vault is a Yurchenko vault that has 2.5 twists from the vaulting table.
The gymnast performs a round-off onto a springboard, then a back handspring onto the table, and then a layout flip with 2.5 twists, after pushing off from the table. The gymnast lands in front, with her back to the table.
Who does It? This vault is a feat that the Americans have mastered better than any other country. McKayla Martoney was the only Olympic vaulter capable of performing this feat. Simone Biles is the 2013 world champion in the vault, while Elizabeth Price, an Olympic alternate, can also do the Amanar.
What are the Most Difficult Beam Gymnastics Skills?
Gymnastics equipment such as the beam requires precision. Even the most skilled gymnasts can lose their balance while a gymnast performing a simple split jump. Dismounts and jumps that are only possible on the apparatus like the Back-full, are the hardest gymnastics moves on beam.
Full-in (beam dismount)
A double-back salto with a twist and 360 degree. The hardest part of this dismount is to generate enough power and height for the skill. Two apparatus allow gymnasts to generate speed and power for complex flipping moves, the vault, and floor. The beam has a very narrow runway and produces no spring. A double back salto requires tremendous speed and power to complete.
Origin Jiang Wei, a Chinese woman gymnast, was the first to perform the double back salto with a full turn. Amazingly, Jiang Wei was just 12 years old when this dismount was achieved at the 1980 USA-China competition.
Level Of Difficulty G (6.755)
The Jurkowska Kowalska (beam dismount).
Gainer salto layout. Two full twists (720deg), completed with a dismount from the beam. This skill is difficult to launch into. The Jurkowska-Kowalska is different from other beam dismounts, where gymnasts are able to launch themselves directly off the beam. Instead, they must launch themselves up and flip backward while moving forward off the beam. This feat is difficult to master if you add two more twists.
Origin Katarzyna Jurkowska Kowalska, a Polish woman gymnast, was the first to master the gainer layout using two full twists at the 2018 World Championships held in Doha Qatar.
Level Of Difficulty E (6.507)
Back-Full on Beam
Standing back salto, tucked with a full twist (360deg). The Back-full isn’t a dismount from the beam. It’s a skill that must be completed on the beam. A gymnast who is not on their axis by even one inch could miss their landing and end up falling to the ground.
Some gymnasts will do a Back-full to generate enough power to perform this maneuver. Gabby Douglas performs a flawless Back-full from a standstill in the video. This is an incredible feat of strength.
Origin Aleftina Pryakhina, a former Soviet Union gymnast, was the first woman to perform the Back tuck and full twist at the 1986 Jr. Europeans.
Level Of Difficulty F (5.613)
The Biles (beam dismount).
The Biles beam is a double-back salto with two full twists (720deg). This dismount is a Full-in beam dismount. It also includes a full twist. Similar to the Full in dismount, the hardest part of this skill is to generate the power and speed to complete the movement with control. The Biles, or the “double-double”, is a unique twist on the Full-in that makes it the most difficult beam dismount. Simone Biles is the only woman gymnast who has ever landed this dismount.
Origin: Simone Biles, U.S.A., was the first woman’s gymnast who completed the skill at 2019 U.S.A. Gymnastics Championships, Kansas City, U.S.A.
Level Of Difficulty H (N/A).
What are the Most Difficult Skills for Gymnastics on Uneven Bars?
Gymnastics is at its best when it’s on uneven bars. Dismounts can be strenuous and high-flying, but we have chosen two flights to represent the most challenging gymnastics skills on bars.
A hip turn on the low bar, past the hand-stand position, to a flight release (360deg), before reaching the high bar. The full-twisting Shaposhnikova is when the gymnast starts on the low bar and turns her back towards the high bar. After the full twist and flight release are complete, the gymnast will catch the high bar in the same position with her back towards the bar. This move is difficult because it requires blind catches from high to low bars.
Origin: Russian gymnast Aliya Musafina was the first woman to master the skill at the 2013 World Championships held in Antwerp.
Level Of Difficulty (N/A).
The Gienger release move, the Def, has an extra twist. The Def, in simpler terms, is a skill that the gymnast competes on uneven bars. It involves the gymnast releasing the bar and performing a back salto layout (540deg) before catching it again.
Origin Snejana Horistakieva, a woman’s gymnast from Russia, was the first to perform the move in an international competition at the 1992 World Championships. However, this skill was created by Jacques Def, a French gymnast. A skill is traditionally named after the person who completes it in competition. However, the skill is more commonly called The Def.
Level Of Difficulty G (3.055)
This question is becoming more difficult to answer as Simone Biles continues to learn new skills.
Biles created a new vault for women’s artistic gymnastics in spring 2021, the Yurchenko double pike vault. This is the most difficult gymnastics move we have ever seen.
This vault was initially rated the most difficult of all vaults, which makes it one of the hardest gymnastics skills in the world. It is important to note that this vault is so difficult that no woman has ever attempted it in competition.
We had previously named the Produnova vault as the most difficult skill for women in artistic gymnastics because of its high risk and difficulty. Unlike the Yurchenko Double Pike vault, however, this vault has been competed by many women.
For now and in the future, we believe that the Yurchenko Double Pike vault remains the most difficult move in gymnastics.
Future of Women’s Gliding Skills
We are excited to see where the future takes women’s gymnastics. Simone Biles is proving that she can do more with less effort than ever before. What is her next project? Who will be the next innovator? Who will invent the most difficult moves in gymnastics? For more information on athletes who are redefining their sport, check out our definitive list of female role models.
You can find out more about Uplifter’s ability to help you, coach, manage or own a gymnastics club with our athlete tracking, registration, and club management software.
What’s the hardest move in gymnastics?
The Produnova. A Produnova is the most difficult vault move in women’s gymnastics. It requires a true daredevil. The gymnast turns full tilt towards the table and launches herself forward, flipping three times before she reaches the mat.