What is Rhythmic Gymnastics? (From the International Federation of Gymnastics)

Rhythmic gymnastics can trace its roots back to the end of the 19th century as
a means of movement and aesthetic expression. Typically practised in large
groups, early practitioners explored the unity of musicality and rhythm. Above
all, Isadora Duncan, a famous American dancer, whose rebellion against the
dogmas of classical ballet changed the direction into which the art and sport of
Rhythmic Gymnastics developed. The International Federation of Gymnastics
recognized RG as a sport in 1961.

The first World Individual Championships were held in 1963 in Hungary however,
the competitive side of RG was practised as early as 1942 in the former Soviet
Union. Group exercises were introduced at the 1967 World Championships in
Denmark. In 1984, RG was featured as a discipline of its own at the Olympic
Games in Los Angeles. The first Olympic champion was  Canadian Lori Fung
(Vancouver).

Group exercises entered the Olympics in 1996 in the Games in Atlanta.
Competitive RG is tremendously popular in eastern European countries (Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria) and has also enjoyed popularity in western European nations like Spain, Italy and Greece. Many countries practise RG on a performance level - RG can be performed in large groups by athletes of any age (young children, seniors, Special Olympians). Performance routines are free-flowing, often changing in tempo and formation, and incorporate a variety of apparatus. RG is a fantastic sport to improve and maintain fitness at all stage of life!

Apparatus (From the International Federation of Gymnastics)

Until the 1956 Olympic Games, group exercises with small hand-held apparatus, were included in Artistic Gymnastics. The use of hand-held apparatus eventually faded from Artistic and appeared progressively in Rhythmic Gymnastics.

In rhythmics, gymnasts strive to make the apparatus look like an extension of the body's movement.

Rope is very dynamic and is typically associated with good jumping abilities and explosive power. The rope should always maintain a fixed shape. Technical movements include swings and rotations, skipping, releases (one end) and throws (release both ends). The rope is made of hemp or other synthetic material and its length is proportional to the gymnast’s height.

Hoop technical movements include swings and rotations (about different parts of the body), rolls on the body and the floor, throws and catches, and passing through or over the hoop. The hoop is made of plastic, hoops can range in size from 60-90cm in diameter. The hoop is rigid and retains its shape but must be used along particular planes of movement.

Ball is rigid in shape, but it should never be gripped or rest against the forearm of the gymnast - this requires a lot of proper technique and practise! Technical movements include swings and circles, figure 8s, bouncing, rolls on the body and the floor, throws and catches. The ball is made of a rubberized material and is between 18-20cm in diameter. Unlike a basketball or a soccer ball, a rhythmic ball is weighted to ensure smooth rolling technique and flight pattern when thrown.

Clubs - although all rhythmic apparatus skills should be done equally well with the right or left hand, clubs truly challenges the hand-eye coordination of gymnasts. Technical movements include circles, mills, throws and catches and asymmetric movements. The clubs are plastic or rubber and 40-50cm in length and are used in pairs.

Ribbon is the most identifiable of the rhythmic apparatus! The trick is to keep the ribbon in constant motion without resting on the floor using movements such as swings, circles, figure 8s, spirals (small circles), snakes, as well as small and large throws. Made of satin (without starch), it can range in length from 2 m (for very young gymnasts) to 6 m for senior competitors. The ribbon is attached by swivels to a weighted, plastic or fiberglass stick.
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