What Is a Triple-Double in Gymnastics, Exactly?


In 2019, Simone Biles became the first woman gymnast to land a triple-double in her floor routine — that’s a triple-twisting double backflip, if you’re unfamiliar.

The move has since become a staple in her competitive performances, and as of June 2024, ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, no other woman has completed the move (though American gymnasts Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner have both trained it, according to videos they’ve posted). The triple-double is considered such a hallmark of Biles’s abilities that it’s even been named after her: the Biles II.

The triple-double is always met with enthusiasm by commentators and the crowd. But it’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment — it’s over so fast, and she’s twisting so much it can be hard to even wrap your mind around what she’s doing. So, here’s why the triple-double is such a big deal.

What Is the Triple-Double?

Flips and twists are nothing new to the sport of gymnastics, but this particular combo is truly jaw-dropping. It’s been 31 years since Romanian gymnast Daniela Silivas first stuck a double-double on floor (a move still colloquially referred to as the Silivas), which requires a gymnast to complete two backflips in a tucked position, twisting once on each flip. The triple-double adds a third twist, an achievement that had only been seen in men’s gymnastics until Biles’s feet touched down on the mat at the 2019 US Gymnastics Championships.

Side note: In 2021, American gymnast Jade Carey was training a laid-out triple-double, but she never debuted it, later saying in an interview with Inside Gymnastics Magazine, “that ship has sailed” and that she’s “a little bit scared now. It’s a little bit hard.”

The triple-double (aka the Biles II) is a move that requires incredible, almost superhuman strength, coordination, and training. To perform it, Biles is flipping her body around two axes at the same time: twice front to back, and three times sideways. Wired broke down the physics of Biles’s triple-double, noting that she’s only in the air for 1.18 seconds. She starts to rotate before she’s even in the air, then tucks her body and moves her arms to create something called angular momentum, which powers her through the twists.

How Is the Triple-Double Scored?

After Biles successfully landed the skill at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, the move was given a formal scoring value of one point. That makes it the most difficult element in women’s gymnastics, and it’s just one more way Biles has completely changed the game.

— Additional reporting by Mirel Zaman

Amanda Prahl is a freelance writer, playwright/lyricist, dramaturg, teacher, and copywriter/editor. Amanda has also contributed to Slate, Bustle, Mic, The Mary Sue, and others.

Mirel Zaman is the wellness director at PS. She has nearly 15 years of experience working in the health and wellness space, writing and editing articles about fitness, general health, mental health, relationships and sex, food and nutrition, astrology, spirituality, family and parenting, culture, and news.

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