1st Edition

Women's Artistic Gymnastics Socio-cultural Perspectives

    258 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    258 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book lifts the lid on the high pressured, complex world of women’s artistic gymnastics. By adopting a socio-cultural lens incorporating historical, sociological and psychological perspectives, it takes the reader through the story and workings of women’s artistic gymnastics.

    Beginning with its early history as a ‘feminine appropriate’ sport, the book follows the sport through its transition to a modern sports form. Including global cases and innovative narrative methods, it explores the way gymnasts have experienced its intense challenges, the complexities of the coach-athlete relationship, and how others involved in the sport, such as parents and medical personnel, have contributed to the reproduction of a highly demanding and potentially abusive sporting culture.

    With the focus on a unique women’s sport, the book is an important read for researchers and students studying sport sociology, sport coaching, and physical education, but it is also a valuable resource for anyone interested in the development of sporting talent.


    Roslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart and Gretchen Kerr


    Part I: The history, politics, commercialisation and diversification of women's artistic gymnastics


    Jenny’s story: Part I - Frank


    1.          Acrobatization and establishment of pixie-style women’s artistic gymnastics

    Georgia Cervin


    2.          Perfectionization of women’s artistic gymnastics

    Georgia Cervin


    3.          The commercialization of women’s artistic gymnastics since the 1980s

    Georgia Cervin, Elizabeth Booth and Diana Dumitriu


    4.          Diversification of women’s artistic gymnastics since the fall of Communism

    Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Elizabeth Booth, Francesca Cavallerio, Georgia Cervin, Diana Dumitriu, Myrian Nunomura and Froukje Smits


    Part II: The gymnast experience


    Jenny’s sory: Part II - An unexpected event


    5.          Living with stories of gymnastics in higher education

    Carly Stewart and Michele Carbinatto


    6.          Media narratives of gymnasts’ abusive experiences: Keep smiling and point your toes

    Ashley Stirling, Alexia Tam, Aalaya Milne and Gretchen Kerr


    7.          Trampoline gymnasts’ body-self narratives of the leotard: A seamless fit?

    Rhiannon Lord and Carly Stewart


    Part III: Coach-athlete relationships


    Jenny’s story: Part III - Worries and pressures


    8.          Power in coach-athlete relationships: The case of the women’s artistic gymnastics

    Sophia Jowett and Svenja Wachsmuth


    9.          When the coach-athlete relationship influences vulnerability to sexual abuse of women’s artistic gymnasts

                Gretchen Kerr, Ashley Stirling and Erin Willson


    10.        Critical reflections on (adult) coach-(child) athlete ‘no touch’ discourses in women’s artistic gymnastics: Out of touch

    Melanie Lang and Joanne McVeigh


    Part IV: The multiple actors involved in creating an elite gymnast


    Jenny’s story: Part IV - Enough’s enough


    11.        The sorting of gymnasts: An Actor-Network Theory approach to examining talent identification and development in women’s artistic gymnastics

    Roslyn Kerr


    12.        Using a multilevel model to critically examine the grooming process of emotional abusive practices in women’s artistic gymnastics

    Froukje Smits, Frank Jacobs and Annelies Knoppers


    13.        A figurational approach to women’s artistic gymnastics

    Claudia Pinheiro and Nuno Pimenta


    14.        Navigating sports medical practice in women’s artistic gymnastics: a socio-cultural analysis

    Astrid Schubring and Natalie Barker-Ruchti



    Roslyn Kerr, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Carly Stewart and Gretchen Kerr


    Roslyn Kerr is Associate Professor in Sociology of Sport and Dean of the Faculty of Environment, Society and Design at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

    Natalie Barker-Ruchti is Associate Professor in the Division of Sport Science, School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden.

    Carly Stewart is Head of Department of Sport and Event Management at Bournemouth University, UK.

    Gretchen Kerr is Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, Canada.

    "Women’s Artistic Gymnastics is a valuable contribution to the study of female sport
    in general and gymnastics in particular. Its fourteen original scholarly essays—plus an
    introduction and a conclusion—cover a broad spectrum of historical, sociological, psychological,
    medical, and media-related issues from several theoretical and methodological
    perspectives and, hence, enriches our understanding of a complex sport."-- Olaf Stieglitz, University of Leipzig