In USAG levels 1-6, everyone in the same level performs the same compulsory routine. In levels 7 through Elite, gymnasts make up their own routines within specific requirements.
In the late 1960s/early 1970s, companies began manufacturing uneven bars as a separate specific apparatus. The design was changed slightly to allow the bars to be adjustable, with tension cables that held the apparatus to the floor. As a result of this change, coaches could set the bars further apart. Additionally, the circumference of the bars themselves decreased, allowing gymnasts to grasp and swing from them with greater ease.
As other events in gymnastics increased in difficulty, so did the uneven bars. Gymnasts and coaches began tinkering with elements, attempting more challenging dismounts, and adapting moves from men's high bar. In 1972 Olga Korbut pioneered the Korbut Flip, the first high bar salto release move. Nadia Comaneci continued the trend with her original Comaneci salto at the 1976 Olympics and advanced handstand elements four years later. The giant swing, the staple of high bar in men's artistic gymnastics (MAG), was also adopted into the women's Code of Points, and quickly became a basic uneven bars skill.
By the mid 1980s, routines had become so based on swing and release moves that the bars were moved even further apart. The distance between bars increased even more as gymnasts developed difficult transition elements that required space, such as the Pak salto.
Of all the apparatus in women's artistic gymnastics (WAG), uneven bars is probably the one that has seen the most radical changes. Most elements from 1950s and 60s bars routines, such as the Hecht dismount and the Radolcha somersault, are now completely obsolete; others, such as the once-traditional beats and wraps, are impossible given the current diagonal length between bars; and still others, such as static holds and the Korbut Flip, are not permitted under the current Code of Points.
Gymnasts are required to demonstrate skills from five specific element groups, including a release move (any skill in which the gymnast lets go of the high bar, performs a salto or other flight element, and returns to the same bar) and transition moves with flight from low bar to high bar and high bar to low bar, close bar elements are also required. They are expected to demonstrate a fluid swing and hit vertical handstands on the bar. The dismount is important: the skill performed must carry at least a 'D' difficulty rating. To achieve a maximum score and avoid deductions, the dismount must have a "stuck" landing, with both feet hitting the mat at the same time, feet together, with no steps, hops or strides required to maintain balance.
Gymnasts are permitted to tape their hands or use grips or hand guards on bars. They are also permitted to "chalk up" the bars; ie, use chalk or water to make the apparatus less slippery. Other gymnasts or coaches may help an athlete chalk the bars.
Unlike high bar and rings in MAG, gymnasts may not be lifted to the uneven bars to begin their routines. They may mount the apparatus with either a simple or a difficult skill, on either the high or low bar; running mounts and springboards are permitted.
Once the routine has started, the coach may not physically interfere with the athlete in any way, however, he or she is permitted to stand on the mat during release moves and dismounts. If the gymnast falls on one of these skills, her coach is allowed to catch her or break her fall; the coach is also allowed to lift her back to the high bar to continue her routine. If a springboard has been used for the mount, the coach or another member of the gymnast's team is allowed to quickly step in and remove it so that it does not impede the routine.
If a gymnast falls from the apparatus, she has 30 seconds to re-mount. Within this time limit, she is allowed to readjust her grips or chalk her hands again, if necessary. However, if she does not return to the bars within 30 seconds, she is not permitted to continue her routine.