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A parallel bar routine consists of predominantly swing and flight elements. Strength parts may be used, although they are not required and the gymnast should make sure that there are no more than three stops or hold parts during the routine. The gymnast is required to execute two swinging elements, one in support and one from a hang. The gymnast is also required to perform a skill in which both hands release and regrasp the bars, commonly referred to as a release move.
Although not a requirement, some of the better gymnast move outside the two rails, performing handstands and kips on only one bar. When well executed, these movements mark a good performance. The most difficult skills require the gymnast to lose sight of the bars for a moment, as in double front and back saltos. The more of these skills performed in succession (but not repeating a skill more than one time), the more challenging the routine and more bonus points will be given.
The parallel bars stand 195 cm high. Each bar is 350 cm long, and the two bars can be adjusted to between 42 and 52 cm apart.
It requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination, timing and balance. Many skills require coordinating execution with the flex of the bars. Losing sight of the bars makes it very difficult to re-grasp the bars and continue into the next swing skill.
Text taken from www.usa-gymnastics.org
Click on the British Gymnastics for further information