Rhythmic Gymnastics: Top Things To Know About This Artistic Sport
Rhythmic gymnastics is one of the most popular sports in the Olympics and consists of female-only individual and group routines that pair their performance with an object (usually a ball, hoop, or ribbon and music). But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this artistic sport. Read on to learn everything you should know about rhythmic gymnastics.
Rhythmic Gymnastics: A Brief History
Rhythmic gymnastics first began in the 1800s (taking its roots from ballet) as an unofficial dance group choreography that encouraged expression through movement and exercise. Throughout the 19th century, it continued to develop as a means for gymnasts to train, promoting grace, flexibility, and strength. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that rhythmic gymnastics became its own official category. The Swedish School of Rhythmic Gymnastics was established in 1900 and focused on Eurythmics, rhythm, and the elegance of movement. Shortly after, Germany included apparatuses into the routines.
During the 1930s, rhythmic gymnastics gained popularity in Eastern Europe. A decade later, the Soviet Union began to facilitate it as a competitive sport. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) declared it a legitimate professional sport. In 1964, the first-ever Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championship took place in Budapest and the United States officially participated in the sport in 1973. Finally, in 1984, rhythmic gymnastics joined the ranks of the Olympic Games, with its individual competitions. In 1996, the FIG added a group category as well.
Back To Basics
Now that we know the history of rhythmic gymnastics, let’s dive into the details of this artistic sport. Rhythmic gymnastics incorporates elements of dance and acrobatics into its choreography and can be performed in either solo or group routines. Its female-only participants used a variety of apparatuses in their routines, to include a ball, ribbon, hoop, rope or clubs. Rhythmic gymnastics is commonly confused with its cousin, artistic gymnastics, which involves no apparatus and incorporates tumbling and flips.
In a typical routine, a solo gymnast gets 1 minute and 30 seconds to perform, while a group gets 2 minutes 30 seconds. All participants work on a 42.5ft x 42.5ft floor area during their routine.
Judges assess everything from makeup and hair to a gymnast’s uniform. There is a code of regulations that dictate what a gymnast can and cannot have or wear during her performance. Any deviations may result in a disqualification.
Rhythmic Gymnastics: Scoring System
Judges use a 20-point scoring system, which consists of a difficulty (D) score (with a maximum of 10 points) and an Execution (E) score (also a maximum of 10 points). Contributing factors include artistry, facial expressions, leaps, flexibility, and the difficulty of their routine. They must keep their apparatus in constant movement throughout their routine while maintaining finesse and grace. Perhaps the worst thing a performer can do in their routine is dropping their apparatus.
Fun Facts About Rhythmic Gymnastics
There are some interesting things about this competitive sport that you may not know! For example, even though rhythmic gymnastics is a female-only Olympic Sport, there are other competitions that include male participants. Japan and several countries in Europe already have their own national category for men’s rhythmic gymnastics.
Gymnasts must not only do the splits but also push it past the 180-degree status quo. In order to accomplish those leaps and acrobatic moves, athletes must be able to do oversplits. These moves require them to bend their legs completely in front and behind them!
Canadian athlete Lori Fung won the first individual Olympic gold medal. And Spain won the first group gold medal. Overall, however, Russia has dominated the sport in both the individual and group Olympic competitions.
Athletes typically begin their training at an early age work for years before they can have the chance to compete professionally. They must become masters of their artistry and perform under extreme pressure. Trainers painstakingly create each routine in minute detail and then practice for hours every day. However, gymnasts will tell you that while it’s a hard path to take, they find great satisfaction in their sport.
There are many benefits to your children participating in gymnastics, even if they don’t compete professionally. It’s a healthy form of exercise that instills discipline, hard work, and dedication. Your child can learn all about expression through artistic movement while creating lasting relationships with their trainers and peers.
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in this artistic sport, reach out to the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics or visit our website to get started!