Alongside swimming, gymnastics is probably one of the most eagerly anticipated sports of the summer Olympics. And it's no surprise, considering the amount of skill and precision that goes into a single routine.
There are millions of gymnasts but few make it to the international stage — so who are the best gymnasts in the world? And how prevalent is gymnastics in the U.S.?
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Vault into these gymnastics statistics to learn more about this high-flying sport.
Global Gymnastics Statistics
Gymnastics is popular all over the world, but the U.S. is ranked first by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique or FIG (the main international governing body for the sport).
At LIVESTRONG, we are intentional with the language we use. But like many other sports, gymnastics typically categorizes athletes as women or men, which is why we've used these terms below.
- World rankings are calculated based on the total number of points each country wins in competition throughout the year. According to the FIG, the scores for the 2019 top-ranking countries in women's gymnastics are:
- United States: 235
- Canada: 205
- Japan: 170
- Germany: 140
- Russian Federation: 135
- The FIG scores for the 2019 top-ranking countries in men's gymnastics are:
- United States: 200
- Russian Federation: 170
- People's Republic of China: 165
- Great Britain: 160
- Ukraine: 140
U.S. Gymnastics Statistics
There are millions of gymnasts in the country. And USA Gymnastics (the national governing body of gymnastics) had more than 205, 500 total members (including staff and coaches) in the 2019-2020 season.
- There are about 4,770,000 gymnasts in the U.S., according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association's 2019 Gymnastics Participation Report.
- 21.9% of U.S. gymnasts live in the Southeast.
- 49.1% of U.S. gymnasts are between the ages of 6 and 12.
- 92,575 gymnasts participate in USA Gymnastics programs, according to the group.
- 5,472 of these athletes participate in trampoline and tumbling programs.
- 1,178 of these athletes practice rhythmic gymnastics.
- 995 of these athletes practice acrobatics.
- The states with the highest number of Level 10 (the top level) competitors, according to USA Gymnastics, are:
- California: 149
- Pennsylvania: 127
- Illinois: 106
- New Jersey: 86
- New York and Florida (tie): 84
- The states with the highest number of rhythmic gymnasts are:
- California: 330
- Illinois: 141
- New York: 91
- Florida: 67
- The states with the highest number of acrobatic gymnasts are:
- Missouri: 244
- Maryland: 115
- Texas: 106
- Louisiana: 68
- The men's and women's senior and junior elite national teams both have 28 athletes, according to USA Gymnastics.
- The top-ranking division 1 college gymnastics programs women as of March 2022, according to USA Gymnastics are:
- The top-ranking college gymnastics programs for men as of March 2022, according to USA Gymnastics are:
Gymnastics Demographics by Sex
There are more than five times more women competing in gymnastics in the U.S. than men. However, men and women compete in different gymnastics events, so some people consider them to be totally separate sports.
- There are about 12,072 athletes in USA Gymnastics' men's programs, according to USA Gymnastics.
- There are 68,797 athletes in women's programs.
- The six events that make up men's artistic gymnastics, according to the Olympics, are:
- Floor exercise
- Pommel horse
- Still rings
- Parallel bars
- Horizontal (or high) bar
- The four events that make up women's artistic gymnastics are:
- Uneven bars
- Balance beam
- Floor exercise
- Although there are more female gymnastics athletes, more men compete in consecutive Olympic games, according to a March 2018 study in the Science of Gymnastics Journal.
Consecutive Olympic Game Participation by Sex
Number of Consecutive Olympic Games
Gymnastics Demographics by Age
Gymnastics is most popular among kids and preteens: Most athletes are between the ages of 9 and 12.
Percentage of USA Gymnasts by Age Group
5 and younger
Age Demographics by Skill Level
Introductory athletes are in levels 1, 2 or 3 of gymnastics (more on gymnastics levels below). Most female introductory athletes (37.9%) are 6 to 8 years old. The majority of male intro athletes (65.1%) are 15 to 16.
Percentage of Introductory USA Gymnasts by Age Group
5 and younger
Statistics About Gymnastics Injuries
Gymnastics injuries are pretty common but differ between men to women. Men tend to get upper-body injuries, while women usually have issues in the lower body.
- There are more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries in the U.S. each year, according to STOP Sports Injuries, an educational platform of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
- After observing 64 male and 55 female gymnasts from 2001 to 2011, authors of a March 2015 Sports Health study recorded 240 injuries for men and 201 injuries for women.
- 24.4% of the injuries in women required surgery
- 9.2% of the injuries in men required surgery.
- 24% of men injured their hands or wrists, their most frequently injured area.
- 39% of women injured their feet or ankles, their most frequently injured area.
- Women experience about 2 injuries for every 1,000 hours of training, according to an April 2015 study of college gymnasts in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
Olympic Gymnastics Statistics
While there are yearly gymnastics competitions, the sport is probably best known for its popularity in the Olympic Games.
- At the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, U.S. gymnasts brought home 6 medals, according to USA Gymnastics:
- 2 gold
- 2 silver
- 2 bronze
- In 2004, the standard 10-point-maximum system of scoring was replaced with an open-ended system, which helps judges differentiate between athletes' results.
- The U.S. men's and women's gymnastics teams won their first gold medals in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, according to USA Gymnastics.
- Simone Biles was the first American woman gymnast to win 4 gold medals.
- Biles is one of four to ever win 5 medals at a single Olympic Games, according to USA Gymnastics.
- After winning a gold medal on the vault at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles become the most decorated gymnast in the U.S., according to USA Gymnastics.
- Nadia Comaneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, according to the Olympic website.
- Comaneci has won 5 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medal in her career.
- Laurie Hernandez won 1 gold and 1 silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
- Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura is often considered the greatest male gymnast in history but may not be competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to injury, according to NBC Sports.
2021 U.S. Women's Olympic Team
2021 U.S. Men's Olympic Team
World Championship Statistics
Outside of the Olympics, the World Championships are the top gymnastics competition.
Gymnastics Level Statistics
Gymnastics programs are organized by three stages, each of which involves its own levels and training protocols. Athletes must complete all of the levels in order to compete at the elite level.
- USA Gymnastics categorizes gymnastics programs into the following stages and levels:
- Developmental Stage: Levels 1 to 3 — During this stage, gymnasts must learn the basics of the sport before they can compete.
- Compulsory Stage: Levels 4 and 5 — These levels build on the basics learned in the previous stage as gymnasts begin to compete.
- Optional Stage: Levels 6 to 10 — Each level in this competitive stage (aside from Level 10) has difficulty restrictions based on the movements and routines permitted in competition.
- Level 4 is the common, with 21,766 female athletes and 4,184 male athletes, according to USA Gymnastics.
- After Level 10, a gymnast is considered an elite athlete. USA Gymnastics currently has 79 elite women and 136 elite men.
Historical Facts About Gymnastics
Although gymnastics has been around for a long time recreationally, large-scale competitive events began about 120 years ago.
- Rhythmic gymnastics emerged in the Soviet Union, where the sport's first championships were held in 1948, according to Olympedia, an Olympic athlete and record platform.
- Some form of gymnastics has been around for more than 2,000 years, according to the University of Michigan.
- Gymnastics first came to the U.S. in 1830s.
- The sport was first included in the Olympics in 1896, which means it's been in the Olympics 30 times.
- Women first competed in Olympic gymnastics at the 1928 Games.
- The FIG organized its first men's World Championships in 1903, according to Gymnastics Canada.
- Women were first included in the World Championships in 1934.
- The individual apparatus event was first included in the Olympics in 1952.
- Trampoline gymnastics was first included in the Olympics in 2000.
- FIG: "Women's Artistic Gymnastics World Ranking 2019"
- FIG: "Men's Artistic Gymnastics World Ranking 2019"
- Sports & Fitness Industry Association: "Gymnastics Participation Report 2019"
- USA Gymnastics: "Do You Know Your Stats?"
- USA Gymnastics: "About USA Gymnastics"
- Science of Gymnastics Journal: "Gender Differences in Consecutive Participation in Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Games From 1996 to 2016"
- Team USA: "Gymnastics, Soccer Confirm 2021 Olympics Age Limits, Clarifying Eligible Athletes for Tokyo"
- USA Gymnastics: "USA Gymnastics Membership Statistics"
- STOP Sports Injuries: "Preventing Gymnastics Injuries"
- Sports Health: "Evaluation of Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics Injuries"
- USA Gymnastics: "Milestones"
- Olympics: "Artistic Gymnastics"
- NBC Sports: "Kohei Uchimura Will Not Defend Olympic All-Around Title; Will He Still Get to Tokyo?"
- USA Gymnastics: "Men's and Women's World Championships Results"
- USA Gymnastics: "Women's Development Program Overview"
- University of Michigan: "Historical Facts about Gymnastics"
- Gymnastics Canada: "History"
- USA Gymnastics: "2022 Collegiate Gymnastics Rankings - March 21"