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History of Rhythmic Gymnastics
Rhythmic gymnastics combines ballet and creative movements to music, while working with ribbons, balls, hoops, ropes and clubs in a choreographed dance-and-tumble routine. It has a lot more dance than artistic gymnastics. Everything is done on the floor with far different routines and different music.

There are two kinds of gymnastics: rhythmic gymnastics and artistic gymnastics. The kind of gymnastics most of us are familiar with is artistic gymnastics. Women's artistic gymnastics includes uneven bars, balance beam, vault and floor exercise. The kind of gymnastics I am going to talk about is rhythmic gymnastics which includes ball, hoop, ribbon, rope, clubs and sometimes floor exercise ( I will go into these in more detail later). Gymnastics, rhythmic and artistic combined, started in Europe during the eighteenth century as one sport and over time gradually developed into two different yet similar sports.

Rhythmic gymnastics started as an independent competitive sport in the early nineteen fifties by the Russians. Then in nineteen sixty three the first rhythmic gymnastics world championship was held in Europe. Even though rhythmic gymnastics has its own world championships it did not become an Olympic medal sport until nineteen eighty four. This is partly why rhythmics is such a little known and hardly recognized sport in the U.S.

In the U.S. rhythmic gymnastics has six different competitive levels: level five being the lowest competitive level, level six being the next highest and so on until level ten which is the highest level in the sport. Levels five through seven have compulsory routines they must complete. Four compulsory routines are picked out of the six for each level each year. In level seven you have a choice of having one optional routine ( made up for you/designed for you by someone else or yourself ) or you may do the compulsory routine for that event.

The kinds of apparatus and the movements usually done with them are: Rope: swings the rope in various directions ( over, around, under the gymnast's body ). The gymnast can also throw and catch the rope, toss it, perform balances with it, and perform many other movements. The rope can be made of hemp or synthetic material similar to hemp. Rope handles are not allowed.

Ribbon: Snakes, spirals, swings, throws and catches,traps, figure eights, circles, wrapping around yourself. For the Junior level gymnast the ribbon may be a minimum of 5 meters (that's more than 15 feet), 6 meters for the Seniors, and 4 meters for Children's level. The width is 4 to 6 cm, minimum weight Is 35 grams. The ribbon is attatched to the stick by means of a thread, nylon cord or rings. The stick, including the attatchment to the ribbon, is 50 to 60 cm. and can have 10 cm of antislip tape or rubber at the level of the grip. The material of the ribbon is satin or synthetic satln; any color except gold, silver or bronze Is allowed.

Clubs: Swinging, throws and catches, circling, clapping, trapping, spinning. The clubs may be made of wood or synthetic material, 40 to 50 cm. long, weighing a minimum of 150 grams per club. For the children's division thelength is between 25 and 50 cm, and weighs a minimum of 75 grams. The club has a shape similar to that of a bottle. Ball: Rolling, swinging, throwing and catching, bouncing, balancing with, trapping. 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 other levels. The color may be anything but gold, silver or bronze. Hoop: Rolling, swinging, throwing and catching, jumping (over,under,through ), circling, trapping, spinning. The hoop has an interior diameter of from 80 to 90 cm., minimum weight 300 grams. For Children's division It is 60 to 90 cm. diameter and 150 grams.

Floor exercise: Almost anything.

Levels 5 through 7 are required to wear the same leotard throughtout the meet. For Group routines, the leotards must be identical material, color and style for all members. Leotards may be any color except gold, silver or bronze. Solid or patterns are allowed; the pattern is restricted to stripes, geometrlcal design or flowers. No decoration or trim on the leotard is allowed. The cut of the leotard at the top of the leg cannot go beyond the fold of the crotch. Leotards may be with or without sleeves; the dance-leotards with the narrow straps are not allowed. Transparent materials are not used; long tights down to the ankles of one color, over or under the leotard is permitted. A unltard (of one color from the waist to the ankles) Is allowed. The neckline in back cannot go beyond the center point between the shoulder blades, and In front It must not go too low. Points are deducted for violations. Halrstyle must be neat. Footwear is bare feet or gymnastic style slippers.

Another division of rhythmic gymnastics. Is group exercise, which consists of four to five gymnasts doing a routine at the same time with each other. They may all use the same apparatus or they could have different apparatus at the same time. The main idea is to have all the gymnasts doing the movements at the same time ( this doesn't always have to be true ). They also have to exchange apparatus with each other and meet other requirements. Of course they must have the same good quality of movement to music, grace, flexibly and difficulty as you have to have in individual rhythmic gymnastics routines.

Individual rhythmic gymnastic music for routines have a time maxima of 90 seconds and group music has a maxima of 150 seconds. In rhythmic gymnastics there are many rules such as: after you begin performing your routine, you or your apparatus cannot go out of the marked area without points being deducted; your outfit and apparatus can not be gold, silver, or bronze colored or you will be deducted for it; if you drop your apparatus you will be deducted. There are a lot more rules, some of them are not very rational like, you will be deducted if: you wear jewelry, if you change your outfit between routines ( and are below level eight), if your hair thing doesn't match your outfit orapparatus, if your outfit comes below your shoulders In the back or above your hipbone in the front. As you can see some of those rules seem irrelevant, but they all have their reasons.

Rhythmic gymnastics can be a very challenging sport. There are four main points to being a good gymnast.

1) Attitude : accepting criticism; not having a bad attitude, working hard, etc

2j Commitment : not giving up, trying to reach your goals, etc

3) Practice : Many people believe that this is the only thing needed to be a good gymnast, but this is not true.

4) Confidence : This is a key point.

A good gymnast Is not neccesarily the person who always gets first place but the one who tries the hardest at meets and at practice, who tries to meet the four points that we just talked about before. That's a good gymnast!


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