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In gymnastics, the floor refers to a specially prepared exercise surface, which is considered an apparatus. It is used by both male and female gymnasts. The event in gymnastics performed on floor is called floor exercise. The English abbreviation for the event in gymnastics scoring is FX.
A spring floor is used in most competitive gymnastics to provide bounce. Spring floors are also used sometimes in cheerleading. The similarly named sprung floor used for indoor athletics is designed to reduce bounce.
Most competitive gymnastics floors are spring floors. They contain springs and/or a rubber foam and plywood combination which make the floor bouncy, soften the impact of landings and enable the gymnast to gain height when tumbling. Floors have clearly designated perimeters—the "out of bounds" area is always indicated by a border of white tape or a differently colored mat.
Measurements of the apparatus are published by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) in the Apparatus Norms brochure. The dimensions are the same for male and female competitors.
Floor exercise routines last up to 90 seconds. The routine is choreographed in advance, and is composed of acrobatic and dance elements. This event, above all others, allows the gymnast to express her personality through her dance and musical style. The moves that are choreographed in the routine must be precise, in sync with the music and entertaining.
At the international elite level of competition, the composition of the routine is decided by the gymnast and her coaches. Many gymnasiums and national federations hire special choreographers to design routines for their gymnasts. Well known gymnastics choreographers include Lisa Luke (USA), Adriana Pop (Romania, France, China), Nancy Roche (USA) and Geza Pozar (Romania, USA). Others opt to choreograph their FX routines in-house. Some gymnasts adopt a new FX every year; others keep the same routine for several competitive seasons. It is not uncommon for coaches to modify a routine's composition between meets, especially if it is used for an extended length of time. It is uncommon for gymnasts to use more than one different FX routine in the same season but it is not entirely unheard of: at the 1996 Olympics, for instance, Russian Dina Kotchetkova's routine in the FX event finals had completely different music, choreography and composition than that of her all-around exercise.
The music used for the routine is also the choice of the gymnast and her coaches. It may be of any known musical style and played with any instrument(s), however, it may not include spoken words or sung lyrics of any kind. Vocalization is allowed if the voice is purely done as an instrument. It is the responsibility of the coach to bring the music to every competition on CD.
Scores are based on difficulty, artistry, demonstration of required elements and overall performance quality. Deductions are taken for poor form and execution, lack of required elements, and falls. The gymnast is expected to use the entire floor area for her routine, and to tumble from one corner of the mat to the other. Steps outside the designated perimeters of the floor incur deductions. The gymnast will also incur a deduction if there are lyrics in the music.
For detailed information on score tabulation, please see the Code of Points article
A floor exercise for men is made up of mostly acrobatic elements, combined with other gymnastic elements of strength and balance, flexibility, and handstands. The routine must be choreographed for form a harmonious rhythmic exercise using the whole floor area. The whole routine may last no longer than 70 seconds.
As with other gymnastic events, scores are based on difficulty, form, and overall performance quality. Deductions are taken for lack of flexibility, not using the whole floor area, pausing before tumbling lines, and using the same diagonal more than twice. Handstand elements must display control and show the gymnast's intent clearly.
A floor routine should contain at least one element from all element groups:
The dismount can come from any element group other than group I.
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