Rhythmic Gymnastics is for women and girls of all ages. It is the perfect combination of sport and art. RG is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance and apparatus manipulation. 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. This athleticism is linked with expressive dance steps, dynamic elements (walkovers and cartwheels) and skillful manipulations of the ball, rope, hoop, ball, ribbon and clubs: throw, spin, spiral, roll and catch. Rhythmic Gymnastics can be performed individually or in groups of up to 5 gymnasts. Rhythmic Gymnastics develops posture and confident body movements for sport and life. It enhances co-ordination and agility, for body awareness and balance. RG builds self-confidence and creativity. The sport increases flexibility and strength and develops healthy minds and bodies.
The ball is made of rubber or synthetic rubber and must weigh a minimum of 400 grams. For national level competitors the ball must have a diameter of 18 to 20 cm. You are not allowed to grip the ball or rest it against your forearm. The ball is a very graceful apparatus. It should move with the gymnast as a part of her body with a continuous flowing movement.
The clubs can be made of plastic or rubber and are 40 to 50 cm in length. They weigh a minimum of 150 grams for each club. They take on a bottle like shape. Clubs take a high level of coordination and concentration. It is usually the last apparatus a gymnast is taught to use because it can be a dangerous piece of equipment if misused. You can buy clubs in many colors or you can customize them to the leotard by taping them or even painting them.
The hoop is made from plastic or wood (rigid, non-bending material) and must weigh at least 300 grams. The maximum size is 90 cm in diameter but each (national) level has their own size range that the hoop must fit in. The hoop is usually taped with different colored adhesive tape to give it a better grip and also to coordinate it with the gymnast’s leotard.
The ribbon has two parts, the ribbon itself and the stick. The stick is usually made of fibreglass but can also be made of wood or plastic. It is 50 to 60 cm in length including the swivel at the end which attaches the ribbon to the stick. The ribbon is 6 metres in length (5 metres for juniors) and is 4 to 6 cm in width. It is made of satin or synthetic satin. Ribbon is the most pleasing to the spectators because of its soft, flowing and graceful movements that are visually attractive. It takes a lot of coordination and arm strength to keep it off the floor and free of knots.
The rope is made of hemp or polyester which gives it it’s suppleness. It is made to fit each individual gymnast by having her stand on the middle of the rope and pulling it straight up. It should reach under her arms on both sides. You are allowed to tie one or two knots on either end for a better grip and to help it rotate faster in the air.