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Guide to Rhythmic Gymnastics

Tools and Apparatus of Rhythmic Gymnastics

Rhythmic Gymnastics combines the elegance of ballet, the coordination of rhythmic motion, and the precision of acrobatics with hand tools such as ball, hoop, ribbon and rope. Making it one of the most difficult sports to master, yet exciting and beautiful to watch. The apparatus is fully integrated in the routine, and specific moves are performed with each apparatus. Individual routines last from 1 minute 15 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds, while group routines last from 2 minutes 15 seconds to 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Rope: The rope routine is usually performed at a fast pace consisting of elaborate jumps, difficult throw and catch sequences, and precision balance elements. The main purpose of this routine is to demonstrate athletes range of flexibility, body control and jumping skills. The rope is usually made of hemp or synthetic hemp like material with one or two knots on each end acting as balance weight and grip.

Ribbon: Considered one of the most beautiful and graceful elements of Rhythmic Gymnastics, the athlete incorporates a ribbon creating a visual motion of dance spirals and figure eights while performing elaborate jumps, difficult throw and catch sequences, and graceful balance elements. The main purpose of this routine is to show athletes range of flexibility and acrobatic body control skills while constantly keeping the ribbon in motion.

For the junior level gymnast the ribbon may be a minimum of 5 meters (that's more than 15 feet), 6 meters for the senior levels, and 4 meters for children's level. The width is 4 to 6 cm, minimum weight is 35 grams. The ribbon is attached to the stick by means of a thread, nylon cord or rings. The stick, including the attachment to the ribbon, is 50 to 60 cm and can have 10 cm of antislip tape or rubber at the grip. The ribbon is mostly made of satin or synthetic satin like material featuring any color except gold, silver or bronze.

Clubs: Fast swinging motions, elaborate throw and catch sequences and precision balance elements can be seen performed in a clubs routine. The athlete works two equally shaped clubs, keeping them in constant motion while performing difficult leaps, pivots, balances, and other elements to demonstrate flexibility and coordination. The clubs can be made of wood or synthetic material like plastic or rubber, and measure between 40 to 50 cm long, weighing a minimum of 150 grams per club. For the children's division the length is between 25 and 50 cm, and weigh a minimum of 75 grams.

Ball: Graceful and theatrical movements are choreographed to music in a ball apparatus routine to demonstrate athletes range of flexibility and body control. The fundamental elements include throwing and catching, bouncing or rolling the ball on the body, balancing with, and trapping. The gymnast must demonstrate skills in ballet, dance and artistic gymnastics using the whole floor area while showing continuous flowing ball movement to achieve the required points.

The ball is made of rubber or synthetic rubber like material, weighing a minimum of 400 grams (200 grams for children). Diameter of the ball is 14 to 20 cm for children and 18 to 20 cm for higher levels. The color may be anything but gold, silver or bronze.

Hoop: Rhythmic gymnasts show off their talent and flexibility through a variety of techniques. One of the more impressive of these events is the hoop. The gymnast resembles a contortionist as she leaps in a hyper-extended split through the hoop in mid air! This skill requires long hard hours of diligent training to make it look easy and graceful. Many elements with the hoop are demonstrated in competition are rolling, swinging, throwing and catching, jumping (over, under, through), circling, trapping and spinning. The explosive expression of each gymnast adds a special touch to the individual or group performance. The hoop routine is acted out to music while complicated swings, spins and rotations make the audience cheer.

The hoop is mostly made from high density plastic tubing, has an interior diameter of from 80 to 90 cm., and minimum weight 300 grams. For children's division it is 60 to 90 cm. diameter and 150 grams.

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