Each movement of a rhythmic gymnastics routine involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity and endurance. In the group event, athletes need to develop teamwork, sensitivity, quick adaptation and anticipation, in addition to the aforementioned skills.
Because each piece of apparatus is so different in its composition, the athlete must coordinate very difficult body movements with the apparatus elements. The gymnast also needs to make many physical adjustments between each event.
Look for swings, circles, rotations, wraps, unwraps, figure-eight-type circling movements, throws and catches of the rope. Gymnasts also leap and jump through the open or folded rope, held by both hands.
Common movements with the hoop include swings, rolls, tosses and catches, spins, passes through and over the hoop, rotations of the hoop on the floor and rotations of the hoop around the hand and other parts of the body.
Most impressive here are the high throws and complex techniques for catching the hoop in a different fashion each time.
Waves, circles, throws and catches, movement with the ball balanced on the hand, bouncing and rolling the ball on the floor and along parts of the body are all key movements.
Swings, large circles, small circles, mills, throws and catches and rhythmical tapping are common tricks.
Ribbon routines are comprised of snakes, spirals, swings, circles, throws and catches and figure-eight movements. The ribbon must remain constantly in motion.
In the group event, five athletes work together as one cohesive unit. Group is judged on the ability of the athletes to demonstrate mastery of body and apparatus skills in a synchronized, harmonious manner. A group exercise must include difficulties from the same body movement categories that apply to individual competition and characteristic movements for the apparatus. In addition, the group athletes must execute elements involving both large and small exchanges of equipment. The more interaction between the gymnasts, the better the exercise.
Each group must compete with two different routines. The apparatus used in group competition is selected by the FIG. One of the routines is performed with five of the same pieces of apparatus, the other routine is choreographed with mixed equipment.
Group athletes are trained to work as a team. The close interaction of five athletes within a 13 X 13 meter (approx. 42.5 ft. square) area and the many apparatus exchanges that occur during a routine require each athlete to be extremely sensitive to the movements and actions of her teammates. Many routines have been saved by the quick thinking and action of a team member.
Spectators are enthralled and amazed by the beauty, excitement and risk of a group routine.
The international competition order is decided by the FIG. For rhythmic gymnastics the events include: rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. The gymnasts compete in four of the five events each year, designated by the FIG. For 2008, the events are: rope, ball, clubs and ribbon.