My Top 10 Favorite Skills


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson discusses her favourite gymnastics skills.

After thinking for a long time, I have finally compiled a list of my top 10 favorite skills to watch in gymnastics routines. (It was very hard to narrow down my list to just 10! 🙂

I don’t think I dislike any particular skill. Most of the time, I watch a routine and don’t really have a big reaction to any move. But once in a while, a gymnast does something extra special and it makes me take notice. I tend to watch certain skills over and over again to see exactly how they’re done!


Handspring-rudi: I like this vault so much I wrote an article about it for Full Twist earlier this year. (I wrote that the rudi should have a higher start value than 6.2.) It is a very uncommon skill. It’s refreshing when someone tries to make their vault different from the widespread Yurchenko-style. I think everyone would agree that the recently retired Alicia Sacramone was one of the best at this vault.

1 ½ twisting Yurchenko: The double-twisting and 2 ½ twisting versions of this vault may be more exciting, but I just adore watching this one. It used to be more common in the 1990s and early 2000s and has disappeared mainly due to its low difficulty value. 2008 Olympic champion Nastia Liukin performed it in her all-around performance, when she stuck it with perfect form. It looks hard and, when done correctly, it looks lovely.


Gienger: This is the kind of uneven bars release that leaves you thinking How in the world did they just do that? A half-turn in mid-air makes it different than many standard release moves, and when it’s done without a separation of the legs, you can’t help but be amazed. Unfortunately, this skill is rarely completed to its full potential. Shawn Johnson did a great job on hers and was probably one of the best ever at it.

Pak Salto: It’s interesting, it’s difficult, it’s breathtaking—the Pak salto has it all. It’s a common release move, seen in many routines, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. And—always a bonus—the Pak salto looks even better when in slow motion replay on TV!

Ono Turn: The Ono turn is a one-armed full spin on the high uneven bar. It’s highly difficult! Beth Tweddle did this spectacular pirouette in her 2012 Olympic bronze bar routine. I admire how much arm strength it must require to complete.


Standing full: A full-twisting back flip on the balance beam is incredibly risky, but it’s becoming a more commonplace skill now. We have seen many perform it in the past few years, but perhaps none better than Gabby Douglas. While some gymnasts complete the twist with their head almost touching their feet, Gabby always manages to stay upright—certainly what the judges are looking for!

Onodi: This just might be my favorite skill of all. It’s a rarity when an element combines both artistry and acrobatics, but this flic-flac with a half twist gets the job done. The Onodi is also becoming more widespread, especially in the Russian program. You have to be flexible and fast to pull it off, which is why Katelyn Ohashi, Catalina Ponor, and Anastasia Grishina have had such luck with it—they’re very flexible gymnasts!

Barani: Now here is a balance beam trick you don’t see every day. A front tuck with a half twist—wow! Sui Lu, the 2012 Olympic beam runner-up, completes it with effortless elegance.


Double layout: Too many floor routines nowadays include a double pike tumbling pass. Few gymnasts, however, perform their exercises with a double layout. It’s true that the layout is harder than the pike, but only by 0.2. When a gymnast takes the effort to do the harder pass, it shows in the beauty of the skill. Catalina Ponor mounted with a perfectly stuck double layout in her 2012 Olympic silver-winning floor routine.

Arabian double front: This is a gorgeous skill when done correctly, with lots of height and power. A stag leap tacked onto the ending makes it even better. Aliya Mustafina, Kyla Ross and Lauren Mitchell have made it look easy (including the leap)!

If anyone has their own favorite skills, whether to watch or compete, please leave a comment below!

Image via Getty Images.


  1. james says:

    i really appreciate the work you do for this site. you do some good stuff

    my favorites and when komova does a sheep jump on the beam

    and i don’t know the names but a lot japanese girls do that entry onto the beam with a roll

    (i might be wrong)

    and i like when they do that sort of backwards jump on the beam and come right down on their belly (i think there’s some chinese girls that do that. i used to know the name but i forget it)

    besides that my favorite is anything he kexin does on uneven bars

  2. james says:

    oh and strickly based on cuteness larissa iordache’s floor routine when she does that spinny thing

    oh and komovas floor routine when she does that thing where she grabs her leg and pulls it up. also based on cute

    and when komova is done something and is breathing.. that’s not a skill though

  3. Rien says:

    My favorites :
    On vault, anything that is not a DTY or Amanar. Getting so sick of every gymnast doing either.

    On bars, when Youna Dufournet/Elizabeth Sietz performed Def’s, AMAZING. But for bars, what impresses me more than an individual skill, is a unique combination. Absolutely LOVE Musty’s Pak Salto straight to Chow with half turn (Also known as a shaposhnikova I think). Doing a pak salto to kip now just looks so disconnected.

    Beam, again, combinations, Musty’s leap/onodi/double turn combo. Awesome. But I also LOVE a good switch ring leap. Also the very few Memmel turns (not sure if its called something different on beam) are nice.

    Floor, spins with leg in back attitude, like Afanasyevas, beautiful to watch. Musty’s triple memmel, beautiful. Piked arabians are pretty fun to watch as well.

  4. Riccardo says:

    Well, I love so many skills, but here are my favourites.
    Vault: the handsprings, expecially the Chusovitina’s. Love amanar and fei too, and to me the chusovitina should be rated higher.
    Bars: I love released with a half turn, like tweddle ya kononenko
    Beam: love full ins, and the okino too. The best dismount to me is the piked full in.
    Floor: chusovitina, dos santos I and II, double layout, double double

  5. kimia says:

    definitly the onodi… Nastia’s Beam was the first routine I ever watched, and when I saw the onodi I was like: “what just happened…?”
    On bars, He kexin’s lay out Jaeger (spelling?) .. I mean, how does she do it?!!
    On vault and floor, anything that’s not chucked… 🙁

  6. kimia says:

    definitly the onodi… Nastia’s Beam was the first routine I ever watched, and when I saw the onodi I was like: “what just happened…?”
    On bars, He kexin’s lay out Jaeger (spelling?) .. I mean, how does she do it?!!
    On vault and floor, anything that’s not chucked… :((

  7. jayjay says:

    For vault I love to see the Dragelescu (The women’s vaults are just plain boring compared to the men’s. Too many Amanars and DTYs)
    Bars Aliya’s transition to low bar then immediately back up to high bar especially in slow motion.
    Beam: Aliya’s Onodi, Deng’s tumble down the beam and Komova’s sheep jump in slow mo
    Floor: memmel turn, double twisting double back and the Semenova turn that Afanasyeva does

  8. EMMANUEL says:

    VAULT: on vault I luv the CHENG and the RUDI, I also love the MUSTAFINA. I have forgotten the name of this vault. The handspring double front, its pretty dangerous and difficult but very beautiful when done.
    ON BARS i love the mustafina dismount, the double twisting double back dismount, the double layout dismount, i love the jaegar, the pak salto and the chow.
    ON BEAM: i luv the onondi, the luikin even though its rarely done, the sheep,the standing arabian.the full twist in the laid out position and the piked full in dismount.
    On FLOOR: I love the full twisting double layout, the memmel, the quad twist and the three and half twist.

  9. Kris says:

    My favorite beam skills:
    1. Front aerial walkover connected to a Rulfova (Li Shanshan)
    2. Flic flac to a full-layout (Katelyn Ohashi)
    3. Front aerial to arabesque (Nastia Liukin)
    4. Flic flac to a layout to a Korbut flip (Deng Linlin)

  10. Admin says:

    that’s a great list Kris!

  11. Ceci says:

    Favorite skills:

    Vault: Full-Twisting Yurchenko. When performed well, it can be one of the most beautiful things.

    Bars: Church. Cute and difficult.

    Beam: Illusion turn. Majestic.

    Floor: Double Layout. Lovely.

  12. AliyaFanAfanaseyva says:

    Sui Lu’s skill is actually not a Barani. It’s a Grigorias. A Barani is rated an E. The Grigorias is rated an F. The difference it the approach and when the flip comes. In the Barani, it’s kind of like a backwards Onodi, not so much flight. With the Grigorias, it’s a front tuck 1/2 out…much more flight and much harder.

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