The Hardest Skills in Women's Gymnastics

If you have ever watched a gymnastics competition, you know that when it comes to scoring, some skills have a higher point value due to their difficulty. Have you ever wondered which skills in women's gymnastics are considered the most difficult? Read on to find out how the toughest skills are performed, who invented them, and which gymnasts are known for performing them well.

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Vault: Amanar (Yurchenko 2.5)

McKayla Maroney performs on the vault during a gymnastics competition

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The Amanar vault, named after Romanian Olympic champion Simona Amanar, is a Yurchenko vault with 2.5 twists off the vaulting table.

Breaking it down: The gymnast does a round-off onto the springboard, a back handspring onto the table, and then a layout backflip with 2.5 twists after pushing off the table. She lands forward, facing away from the table.

Who does It? The Americans have perfected this vault well beyond any other country. Every member of the 2012 Olympic team was capable of performing the vault, with McKayla Maroney doing the highest version of it. Simone Biles, the 2013 world all-around champ, and Elizabeth Price, a 2012 Olympic alternate, also can do the Amanar with ease.

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Vault: Cheng (Round-Off Half-On Rudi Off)

Fei Cheng performs on the Vault in a gymnastics competition

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Named after Chinese vault goddess Cheng Fei, this vault is a Yurchenko half-on to a front rudi (a layout front flip with 1.5 twists) off the table.

Breaking it down: The gymnast does a round-off onto the board, and then a half turn onto the table, so she is facing the table. She then pushes off and does a rudi. She lands facing the table.

Who does it? Very few female gymnasts besides Cheng herself perform this vault. North Korean sisters Hong Su Jong and Hong Un Jong have both performed it, as has Brazil's Jade Barbosa. Americans Mykayla Skinner and Vanessa Zamarripa have both done it as well, though not in international competition. More gymnasts have attempted it in the tucked position, which was pioneered (and named after) Russian Olympic champ Svetlana Khorkina.

Watch it: It should be noted that, in the video linked above, Cheng did both the Amanar and the Cheng vaults—she was just that awesome.

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Bars: The Def (Full-Twisting Gienger)

Emilie Le Pennec competes on the Uneven Bars at the 2004 Summer Olympics

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The Def is a Gienger release move with an extra full twist.

Breaking it down: The gymnast swings up and releases the bar. She then performs a backflip with a 1.5 twist and catches the bar again, facing the opposite direction from which she released.​

Who does it? French gymnast Emilie Le Pennec is perhaps the most famous example since she performed it when she won uneven bars gold at the 2004 Olympics.

Watch it: Though Emilie Le Pennec breaks form in the video when she catches the bar, she does the skill from a hop full, which makes it even more difficult.

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Bars: Full-Twisting Shaposhnikova

Aliya Mustafina performing her routine on the Horizontal bar at the Rio Olympics

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Breaking it down: The gymnast starts on the low bar, facing away from the high bar. She circles around the low bar to do a traditional Shaposhnikova release but performs a full twist before catching the high bar.

Who does it? Aliya Mustafina, the 2012 Olympic champion on uneven bars, did it at the 2013 worlds, and Elisabeth Seitz of Germany has performed it as well and she can also do a Def release.

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Beam: Back Full

Gabrielle Douglas performing on the Balance Beam during a gymnastics competition

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Breaking it down: The gymnast does a backflip with a full twist, in the tucked or—if she's really good—layout position. Gymnasts have done tucked fulls from a stand, or as part of a tumbling pass (for example, a back handspring into a back full.)

Who does it? Full-twisting back flips have been done on beam for about two decades, but they're still considered very difficult, especially when done laid out. Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic all-around champ, did a seemingly effortless standing full at the London Games. Romanian Oana Ban performed one of the best layout fulls.

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Floor: Moors (Double-Twisting Double Layout)

Victoria Moors of Canada performs the Artistic Floor exercise in a gymnastics competition

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This skill, named for Canadian Olympian Victoria Moors, is almost unthinkable.

Breaking it down: The gymnast flips backward, doing two flips and two complete twists in the layout position.

Who does it? Victoria Moors had the skill named after her after performing it at the 2013 worlds. American Mykayla Skinner has also done it in US national competition.

Watch it: Though Victoria Morrs has weak form on the skill in the video linked here, she had some serious guts to even go for it.

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Floor: Dos Santos (Arabian Double Pike / Double Layout)

Daiane dos Santos competes on the floor a gymnastics competition

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Named for Brazilian powerhouse Daiane Dos Santos, these two skills are a variation on the Arabian double front.

Breaking it down: The gymnast starts backward and does a half twist into a double front, in either the piked or layout position. She lands facing in the opposite direction.

Who does it? The original Dos Santos (in piked position) has been done by many top gymnasts, including 2009 world champion on floor Beth Tweddle, and 2012 Olympic floor champ ​Aly Raisman. The Dos Santos II (in layout position) has been rarely attempted, even by Dos Santos herself.