Dominique Dawes' Guide to Watching Gymnastics

Watching the Women's Individual All-Around competition tonight? The former gold medalist offers a cheat sheet on her sport’s rules, maneuvers and slang

(Dave Black/USA Gymnastics)
Introducing the Expert

Name: Dominique Dawes
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Games and Medals: Barcelona 1992 (Bronze, Team); Atlanta 1996 (Gold, Team; Bronze, Floor); Sydney 2000 (Bronze, Team)
Key Quote: “I love how gymnastics allowed me to push myself and find out what I was capable of accomplishing.”
Favorite Olympic Moment: “I will always remember the feeling I had when I was standing on the medal stand with the “Magnificent Seven” at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.  To represent the country with this special group of girls was such an honor.”


Balance beam – an apparatus consisting of a solid piece of wood four inches wide on which gymnasts perform a routine of acrobatic and dance skills

Bar – an apparatus on which gymnasts perform a routine of swinging maneuvers and release moves

Vaulting table – an apparatus with a wide top surface on which gymnasts place their hands after springing off a springboard


1. All-around – a category of gymnastic competition that includes all four women’s events (vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise) or all six men’s events (floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar)

2. Flic-flac or flip-flop – nickname for a back handspring, in which a gymnast takes off from one or both feet, jumps backwards onto his or her hands and lands on his or her feet

3. Tumbling pass – a sequence of tumbling elements performed in a routine on the floor exercise

Overshoot – a release move from the high bar to the low bar in the uneven parallel bars event

Jeté – a ballet term that describes a leap from one leg to the other in the floor exercise event


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