Acrobatics, Sports

Acrobatics, Sports


a sport that includes competition in the execution of acrobatic exercises requiring balancing and rotation of the body with or without support from the hands, feet, or partner. Competitions in sports acrobatics include tumbling for women and men, exercises for women’s, men’s, and mixed pairs, and group exercises for three women or four men. In each type of program the participants perform two compulsory and two optional routines. Tumbling routines are of two types: those that include somersaults with less than 180° of rotation and those that include somersaults with more than 360° of rotation. Paired and group routines may include static exercises, which involve balancing, or moving exercises, which include vaulting. Performances are evaluated according to the system used in competitive gymnastics.

Acrobatic exercises have long been used in physical training; since the 19th century they have been used in training for individual sports or as part of the exercises performed in competitive gymnastics, diving, and figure skating. At the Tenth Olympic Games in 1932, acrobatic tumbling was included in the gymnastics program as a separate event. Since that time, tumbling competitions have been held in Great Britain, the USA, and other countries.

Sports acrobatics developed in the USSR as a separate sport in the late 1930’s. In 1939 an all-Union federation (originally, a section) of sports acrobatics was created, and the first all-Union championships were held. Women first competed in 1940, and junior competitions have been held since 1951. The birth and development of sports acrobatics are associated with the names of such instructors and coaches as A. K. Bondarev, G. T. Trizin, and V. I. Leonov and such athletes as Iu. V. Strakhov, V. I. Arakcheev, and P. M. Antonov.

In 1967 the Federation of Sports Acrobatics of the USSR began organizing international matches in which athletes compete in different countries and their televised performances are compared and judged. Since 1972 the federation has held international competitions for the prize established in memory of the cosmonaut V. N. Volkov, the federation’s honorary president.

In 1973, on the initiative of the sports acrobatics federations of Bulgaria, Poland, and the USSR, the International Federation of Sports Acrobatics was established at a congress in Moscow, uniting the national federations of 12 countries. The first individual world championships were held in Moscow in 1974, with participants from Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland, the USSR, the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Switzerland. Thirteen Soviet athletes became champions, including N. V. Masloboishchikova, Iu. P. Zikunov, V. A. Skakun, G. A. Savel’-ev, Iu. G. Savel’ev, and Iu. A. Zolotov. Bulgarian champions included S. Spasova and K. Lecheva. In 1975 the first competitions for the World Cup in sports acrobatics were held in Switzerland.

In 1974 there were approximately 150,000 athletes active in sports acrobatics in the USSR, including approximately 600 masters of sport participating in competitions. Seven specialized juvenile sports schools were in operation, as well as 15 acrobatics departments in such schools and 35 acrobatics departments in schools of advanced sports training.


Akrobatika, 2nd edition. Edited by E. G. Sokolov. Moscow, 1973.


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People with experience in acrobatics, sports and competitive martial arts also joined in.