What’s the deal?
Rhythmic gymnastics is to gymnastics what ice dancing is to figure skating–it’s a dance-y and artistic interpretation of the sport.
Rhythmic gymnasts perform routines with apparatuses: a ball, hoop, ribbon, clubs. Rope is another apparatus, but it’s not in this Olympics’ competition. Why props? Helps develop muscles! And that’s true–the gymnasts have to keep those bad boys moving throughout their entire routine.
For the Olympics, this is a women-only competition, and there are individual and team competitions. Individuals do one routine with each apparatus–the total of these determines the All-Around winner. Teams do two routines, one where everyone’s got the same apparatus, and the other where there are two different apparatuses.
Routines are judged by a Difficulty panel and an Execution panel. Each of these categories have a maximum of 10 points, so the best score you can possibly get is 20.00. Points are deducted if you can’t keep control of your apparatus — for example, you lose points if it hits the ceiling.
Why should I watch?
It’s a pretty mesmerizing sport. Just how do they bend that way (or that far)? It’s also kind of cool to see what these athletes can do with the apparatus–flip a ball up in the air with your foot, do some sort of back bend walkover thing and catch it in your hand? No problem!
Potential drinking game:
An apparatus goes out of bounds, take a swig
The perfect snack:
The International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) is the governing body of the sport. Learn about rhythmic gymnastics at their site.
If you’re interested in being on the judging side of the sport, look at your national governing organization for more information. Judges are required to look snappy–skirt or slacks, navy blue sport coat and white dress shirt.