Rhythmic Gymnastics: Apparatus and Equipment
In rhythmic gymnastics, gymnasts are required to perform jumps, tosses, leaps and other moves with a specific hand apparatus while executing a graceful, ballet-like performance to a background of music. They are scored by a panel of judges based on their leaps, balances, pivots, flexibility, apparatus handling and artistic effect.
In addition to the floor mat, there are five other pieces of equipment that are used in rhythmic gymnastics. These are the hand apparatus – the rope, ribbon, clubs, ball and hoop. At any one time, only four out of the five hand apparatus are used while one is set aside. The four apparatus are chosen by the International Gymnastics Federation, also known as FIG, once every two years.
The most essential piece of equipment required in rhythmic gymnastics is the floor mat. It measures 13 by 13 meters and is a different type of mat than the one used in artistic gymnastics. It differs in the amount of spring and padding because a mat with too much padding and spring makes it harder for a rhythmic gymnast to perform their routines.
Constructed out of hemp or a synthetic material that is similar to hemp, the rope is proportional in size to the gymnast. The rope is usually swung in various directions, either over, around or under the gymnast’s body. They also perform other movements such as throwing and catching, tossing, wraps, figure eights, jumps and leaps with the rope.
Made of satin or synthetic satin, the ribbon is attached to a stick made of wood by thread, nylon cord or rings. The ribbon is 6 meters in length and 4 to 6 centimeters in width. The handle is 50 to 60 centimeters long and may have 10 centimeters of anti-slip tape or rubber at the level of the grip. The ribbon can be any colour except gold, silver or bronze.
Throughout the entire performance, the ribbon must stay in constant motion. The gymnast creates patterns with the ribbon like snakes, spirals, circles, figure eights. The gymnast can also throw and catch the ribbon, or wrap it around herself.
There are two clubs which are made either of wood or synthetic material. They are equal in length and about 40 to 50 centimeters long. The clubs weigh a minimum of 150 grams each and are shaped similar to a bottle. The gymnast will perform throws and catches, rhythmic tapping, spinning, swinging, circling and clapping with the clubs.
Made of rubber or synthetic rubber-like material, the ball weighs at least 400 grams. It is 14 to 20 centimeters in diameter and may be any colour (provided it is not too bright) other than gold, silver or bronze. The pattern on the ball must be geometric. The ball is used by the gymnast to perform body waves, throws and catches, balances, bouncing, swinging, and rolling.
Made of wood or plastic, the hoop is 80 to 90 centimeters in its interior diameter. It weighs a minimum of 300 grams and is used for rolling, swinging, throwing and catching, circling, trapping and spinning. The gymnast will also jump over, under and through it during the performance.
The five hand apparatus along with the combination of artistic movement, dance, and sport makes rhythmic gymnastics a unique performance that is in a class of its own.