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The Apparatus Used in Rhythmic Gymnastics

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There are five pieces of equipment used in rhythmic gymnastics. Every two years, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) designates four of the apparatus to be used, and the other to be set aside for that time period.

Each event is performed on a floor mat measuring about 42.5 feet by 42.5 feet. It is not the same as the floor exercise mat used in artistic gymnastics – it doesn’t have the same amount of spring or padding to it. This is at the request of rhythmic gymnasts, because it is much easier to perform the skills required on a floor without spring and padding.

The events in rhythmic gymnastics are:

Floor Exercise

© Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
This event is unique to the introductory levels of competition in the United States and abroad – you won’t see it at the Olympics and other international competitions. In the U.S., it is a compulsory routine in which all athletes perform the same skills to the same music, without use of any additional equipment.
What to Watch: Leaps, turns, jumps and flexibility moves will all be on display. Unlike the floor exercise performed in artistic gymnastics, there are no tumbling (flipping) skills.

Rope

© Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images
The rope is made out of hemp or synthetic material, and is proportional to the size of the gymnast.
What to Watch: Look for swings, wraps, figure-eight-type movements, throws and catches of the rope, and jumps and leaps through the open or folded rope.

Hoop

© China Photos / Getty Images
The hoop is made of wood or plastic, and is 31-35 inches in its interior diameter.
What to Watch: Rolls, high tosses and catches of the hoop, spins, and passes through and over the hoop will all be executed by the gymnast.

Ball

© Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
The ball is made from rubber or synthetic material and is 7-7.8 inches in diameter. Very bright-colored balls are not allowed, and the only pattern permitted on the ball is a geometric one.
What to Watch: The athletes will perform body waves, throws and catches, balances, and bouncing and rolling of the ball.

Clubs

© Julian Finney / Getty Images
The two clubs are of equal length, about 16-20 inches long. Clubs are made from wood or synthetic material and weigh about 5.2 ounces each.
What to Watch: Circles (the clubs swing parallel to each other) and mills (the clubs swing opposite each other), throws and catches with the clubs as a unit and with the clubs separately, and rhythmical tapping are all skills in a club routine.

Ribbon

© China Photos / Getty Images
The ribbon is a single strip, made of satin or a non-starched material, attached to a stick made of wood or synthetic materials. The ribbon is about 6.5 yards long, and 1.5-2.3. inches wide. The stick is 19.5-23.4 inches long and only .4 inches wide.
What to Watch: The gymnast will create all sorts of patterns with the ribbon, including spirals, circles, snakes and figure-eights. She'll also throw and catch the ribbon. It must always stay in motion throughout the entire routine.


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