Body type (warning almost a rant), but it is a question.

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Oct 1, 2008
Brooklyn, NY
I do not know if I’m posting this in the right forum but I just had to know. Does you body type have very much to do with how good you will get at gymnastics. I have had people tell me they can tell I am good at gymnastics because I am petite. What does height have to do with it. I’m sometimes led to believe that height does a lot when I see my sister (who is 12 and stands 5’5) look awkward doing a skill, but soon after I will see her perform a very graceful looking sole circle dismount and I will feel stupid. I’m not very graceful, and I have been told so, I’m precise and have form but I find it hard to look graceful when your legs are so short. But dispite that i do well, Is it not possible I am good because I work hard. Another thing the female spoon shape (Wider shoulders and narrower waists) that is my body type and it erks me how I’m said to be shaped like a 12 yr old. I’ve seen many gymnast shaped like this and not shaped like this. Some times i look in the mirror and my body does look juvinille. So my question is there some kind of preferred body type and size for gymnasts? Does it really matter if you willing to give it your all?
Jul 21, 2007
Honestly... I was a level 10 gymnast and I am currently 5'8''. I believe I was 5'7'' when competing at my last level 10 competition. My height has never really held me back, or I like to beleive so. I was told I was too tall by a lot of people but when I did the same skills as the shorter girls they all shut up. I was injured a lot and think that my height could have been some of the problem but I think it was just that I grew so fast that it couldn't catch up.. but who knows.

At times it bothers me when people seem to use the excuse of being taller than the "normal" 5 foot gymnast but I think it's because I just never had a problem with it so don't understand where people would. I must say I learned a lot of my skills at a younger age (i.e. giants in at age 7 or 8) and I know a lot of girls who have had to learn giants when they were already 5'5'' and 15 or 16 years old. And they have struggled with it. That doesn't mean every 5'5'' person learning giants will struggle, it just means some do.

I think being short it would make the transitions from low to high bar or vice versa a little harder, but I've had teamates prove that point wrong as well.

I just think it's based on each person as an individual... talent and hard work.
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Jan 4, 2008
It does and it doesn't.

Being small and having the right body will not make you a brilliant gymnast. Because it is only 1 of the many things you need for success. The perfect body is not going to help if you lack the other things you need like flexibility, strength, courage, coordination, balance, aerial awareness and so on.

However, it can be harder for taller people to succeed because a lot of the womens apparatus and skills are designed to suit shorter women. You can rotate a lot faster if you are small. This doesnt mean a tall gymnast cant reach level 10, get a college scholarship and have great success as a gymnast.

But at the very top level you dont see any tall women, not at international events and the olympics. Even Svetlana Khorkina is below average height she just looks tall compared to her little teammates.

Geoffrey Taucer

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Jan 21, 2007
Baltimore, MD
Being short or otherwise having the right "body type" does make some skills easier, but it's not the only factor in deciding whether you will be a good gymnast; in fact, I'd say it's pretty low on the list. Level of talent, work ethic, and quality of coaching will all trump body type every single time.


If you have any doubts, just look at the huge variety of body types on any college gymnastics team. We met the Georgia Gym Dogs last weekend. I asked Marcia Newby how tall she is because she is clearly the tallest on the team. She said she is 5'7" and told my DD "don't you ever let anybody tell you that you are too tall for gymnastics."
Sep 9, 2007
Short people are better at gymnastics because they have a lower center of gravity and there's less of them to flip (basically) as well as being able to rotate faster.

Look at Shawn Johnson. Shawn is short and not graceful looking at all, but she's the Olympic beam champ.

If you work hard enough, anything is possible. :)
Oct 24, 2008

Well, I think that if you are shorter you can cover more ground without going out of the line on floor than what a taller person could have happen a lot. A by weight size I think that if you are heavier then you have to carry more weight that what a skinnier person has to carry. So what I'm trying to say is that in some cases it can have something to do with weight or by how tall you are in other cases, but sometimes it just depends on the type of gymnast you are. So this is just my opinion and others may have different opinions but this is mine. :)


I met Nastia and I am not much taller than she is at all.. I think a 6ft girl might have a hard time, but it all depends on what you're already good at, nothing looks better than a tall girl having perfect execution..
Dec 8, 2007
I met Nastia and I am not much taller than she is at all.. I think a 6ft girl might have a hard time, but it all depends on what you're already good at, nothing looks better than a tall girl having perfect execution..

You're so lucky! I met Jana Bieger and I was taller than her. I also met the Hamm twins and I was almost as tall as them but they still got me by at least like 1 or 2 inches.


What you see in the mirror as your feminine shape could just be that your hormones and puberty haven't really kicked in ( late bloomer ) or you could be muscular at this point in time as this will curb estrogen levels and their affect on your body.

Even elite gymnasts come in all sizes but it's better to judge it based on age at around 17 or 18 when they are basically done growing versus comparing 14yo to 19yo in college especially when it comes to females.

Many successful collegiate gymnasts are over 5 and a feet tall for the ladies or 5'10 for the males which isn't uncommon.

I did hear of a girl in canada or the UK that was competing in HS at 6'2"
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