According to Britannica pommel horse gymnastics is when the gymnast supports himself with his hands by holding the pommels over the horse and performs movements with his trunk and legs, such as single or double leg circles and crosses of the legs (scissors), without stops. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? And it is to put it simply.
But like it is said, “where there is a will there’s a way.”
History Of Pommel Horse
The history of pommel horse gymnastics goes back to the time of Alexander the Great and his soldiers who used an older version of a pommel horse to practice mounting horses in around 315 BC. Not only that but the roman army used an ancient version of today’s pommel horse gymnastics to practice mounting and dismounting horses.
But during the time of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn from 1936 onwards, pommel horse took many shapes to mimic the actual planes and curves of a horse, which is quite similar to the pommel horses we see today. Since Jahns time the pommel horse has become more asymmetrical, as the original horse-like shape proved to make wandering movements quite challenging for gymnasts, which with time was growing in popularity. But the newer version is still a sloping-shaped pommel horse.
The pommel horses that you see today consist of pommel handles that date back to the 1920s. It is made of solid steel and padded in leather and mounted on a brass base. It was in 1948 when Americans introduced the modern version of the pommel horse, which is fully symmetrical and solidifies the gymnastics standards.
How To Excel At A Pommel Horse in Gymnastics?
Pommels are a shoulder-based technique event where the gymnast has to find a rhythm from the mount, which is the originating point. It is imperative for the gymnast to find their rhythm quickly whether it is double-leg work or single-leg work.
What works best in order to excel at this exercise is to practice consistently over the years as the pace of your daily practice routines is likely to become deeply embedded in your muscle memory.
No amount of confidence and strategies will help you perform your best unless you have practice and know-how to keep calm. If you deviate to even the slightest bit of overthinking before carrying out the routine, you are bound to make a mistake. Because sometimes you have to let go of all your rational thoughts to succeed in certain activities, and pommel horse in one such activity where you should trust the process and your instinct.
Often gymnasts make the mistake of not relaxing towards the end of the routine and tend to fatigue towards the dismount, which negatively impacts your overall performance, so you should not be hard on yourself and learn to trust yourself and your arm strength. Because even the slightest wobble can deem your entire effort as sloppy.
The combination of balance, strength, and endurance is what will make you stand out against the crowd in pommel horse gymnastics.
Men Vs Women: Pommel Horse Gymnastics
Like many other fields that are dominated by men, pommel horse gymnastics is a present-day example of a field in gymnastics where women aren’t seen taking part in the sport. Despite progress in a society where women are given equal chances to participate, gymnastics is one field where women are not recognized for their talent and abilities, and rather in important events such as the Olympics it is only the men that are seen taking part in pommel horse gymnastics.
Another use of pommel horse was vaulting, where both men and women took part and practiced on the horse without the handles. But in the early 2000s, this was replaced by the vaulting table internationally, as it said to be a safer practice in comparison to pommel horse for vaulting.
Women in sports and gymnastic related fields still have a long way to go as women still don’t perform on apparatus such as the pommel horse.
Pommel Horse At The Olympics
In the Olympics, the pommel horse has been considered as an event for specialists mainly with people such as Hungary’s Zoltan Magyar and Romania’s Marius Urzica prevailing in the sport; with three world titles and two golds in the event respectively.
Despite the specialist consideration, there are two exceptions to the perception such as Vitaly Scherbo and Alexei Nemov who are all-rounders who have managed to excel in the pommel horse, with a world title under their belt.
Why Is a Pommel Horse So Hard?
For all those people wondering, why is a pommel horse so hard? Here’s what you need to know
To excel at pommel horse it takes hard work and dedication, this sport is not everyone’s cup of tea. As the gymnast requires a lot of arm strength and skill in order to shift his weight back and forth. It is not easy to strike a perfect balance between finding your rhythm and having enough strength to skillfully shift your weight-based entirely on your arms.
This is one of the hardest sports to learn and excel at. But that shouldn’t demotivate you from taking up a challenge, because who knows you might be some of the few you can do it!
Excelling at any sport requires hard work, determination, and dedication. No one can excel at what they do without having self-belief. Pommel horse may be one of the most challenging and difficult sports out there but that should not stop us from trying our hand at it. Irrespective of your gender and age, you shouldn’t stop.
Instead of just giving up, keep trying and you may get it right in no time. It takes a lot of practice to become perfect, and you may easily become one of the few women performing a pommel horse if you keep trying harder.
To follow up you can try some of the videos available online and get to work. The Pommel horse may be tough but it’s a challenge every gymnast must go through! You may not get it right the first time but at least you tried.