Rhythmic gymnastics is an activity in which individuals or teams of 5 manipulate one or two pieces of apparatus: clubs, hoop, ball,ribbon, rope and Free (no apparatus). An individual gymnasts only manipulates 1 apparatus at a time. When multiple gymnasts are performing a routine together a maximum of two types of apparatus may be distributed through the group. An gymnasts can exchange apparatus with a team member at any time through the routine. Therefore, an gymnasts can manipulate up to two different pieces of apparatus through the duration of the routine. Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation. The victor is the participant who earns the most points, determined by a panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pirouettes (pivots), apparatus handling, and execution. The choreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balance of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.
The sport is governed by the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which designs the Code of Points and regulates all aspects of international elite competition.
Top rhythmic gymnasts must have many qualities: balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength are some of the most important. They also must possess psychological attributes such as the ability to compete under intense pressure, in which one mistake can cost them the title, and the discipline and work ethic to practice the same skills over and over again.
- It is made of either rubber or synthetic material provided it possesses the same elasticity as rubber. It is from 18 to 20 cm in diameter and must have a minimum weight of 400g. The ball can be of any colour. The ball should rest in the gymnast’s hand and not against the wrist. Fundamental elements of a ball routine include throwing, bouncing or rolling. The gymnast must use both hands and work on the whole floor area whilst showing continuous flowing movement. The ball must emphasize the gymnasts flowing lines and body difficulty.
- A hoop is an apparatus in rhythmic gymnastics and may be made of plastic or wood, provided that it retains its shape during the routine. The interior diameter is from 51 to 90 cm, and the hoop must weigh a minimum of 300g. The hoop may be any colour. Fundamental requirements of a hoop routine include rotation around the hand or body and rolling, as well as swings, circles, throws, and passes through and over the hoop. The routines in hoop; mastery in both apparatus handling and body difficulty like leaps, jumps and pivots.
- It is made of satin or another similar material cloth of any colour, it may be multi-coloured and have designs on it. The ribbon itself must be at least 4–6 cm in width and have a minimum length of 6m. Compulsory elements for the ribbon include flicks, circles, snakes and spirals, and throws. It requires a high degree of co-ordination to form the spirals and circles as any knots which may accidentally form in the ribbon are penalised. During a ribbon routine, large, smooth and flowing movements are looked for.
- Multi-piece clubs are the most popular clubs. The skills involved are apparatus mastery and body elements, Clubs are thrown from alternate hands; each passes underneath the other clubs and is caught in the opposite hand to the one from which it was thrown. At its simplest, each club rotates once per throw, the handle moving down and away from the throwing hand at first. However, double and triple spins are frequently performed, allowing the club to be thrown higher for more advanced patterns and to allow tricks such as 360s to be performed underneath.
- Rope ( see also Rope Skipping)
- It may be made of hemp or a synthetic material which retains the qualities of lightness and suppleness. Its length is in proportion to the size of the gymnast. When the middle of the rope is held down by the feet, both ends should reach the gymnasts’ armpits. One or two knots at each end are for keeping hold of the rope while doing the routine. The fundamental requirements of a rope routine include leaps and skipping. Other elements include swings, throws, circles, rotations and figures of eight.