Balance Beam - The Landing for a Back Tuck
- The balance beam is a long beam held up by a leg or stand, with one on each end. The required height is 4ft and the required width is 4in.
- Originally balance beams were made of plain, polished wood. They did not give any cushion as the gymnast landed on them, leading to increased force (and pain!) experienced by the gymnast. The material of balance beams was changed and springs were added inside the beams to make them more accommodating. See the Force and Landing page to discover the physics behind this change!
- Balance beams were also originally covered in a basketball-like material. However, this material was so slippery it was banned. After the 1980's, the beams were covered in either leather or suede. These new materials increased the coefficient of friction between the gymnast and the balance beam. The increased coefficient of friction makes the beam less slippery, allowing the gymnast to more easily stick a landing after a back tuck or flip.