Skip Nav

How Wide Is a Balance Beam in Gymnastics?

It's Important That We Discuss the Dimensions of a Balance Beam

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 09:   Simone Biles competes on the balance beam during the Senior Women's competition of the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships at the Sprint Centre on August 09, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If gymnastics wasn't impressive enough already, consider this bit of trivia: a balance beam is only 10 centimeters wide, or roughly four inches. That's smaller than an iPhone turned to landscape mode, and as someone who could pull a muscle just taking a selfie, I have a lot of questions. Mostly, who thought this was a good idea? And why isn't every gymnast who climbs onto one awarded a medal?

But it isn't just the width of the beam that makes the routines performed on it so challenging. The balance beam stands at 16.5 feet long and four feet tall. While that may seem like plenty of room to complete the acrobatic skills that are expected of elite gymnasts, it doesn't allow much space to build speed or momentum before exploding off the beam in a dismount. Take Simone Biles, who made history at the 2019 US Gymnastics Championships when she did two back handsprings on the beam, followed by a double-twisting double backflip on her way to the ground. She did all that in just 16.5 feet, with only four feet of clearance, on a beam that's four inches wide. Me? I watched.

Image Source: Getty / Jamie Squire
More from POPSUGAR
From Our Partners
Simone Biles Double Layout Double Backflip Video
Simone Biles on the Cover of Vogue August 2020
Athlete A: Are Bela and Marta Karolyi Still Coaching?
MyKayla Skinner New Combination of Gymnastics Skills on Beam
Athlete A: Where Is Larry Nassar Now?
Athlete A Interview: Rachael Denhollander on Larry Nassar
Simone Biles Talks Mental Health and Precompetition Routine
Simone Biles on Life and Training During Pandemic
Athlete A: Is the Karolyi Ranch Still Open?
Athlete A: What Happened to Steve Penny of USA Gymnastics?
Watch Katelyn Ohashi Take On a Marine Corps Obstacle Course
Simone Biles Triple Double Dismount Off Beam
Latest Health & Fitness