The FIG Code of Points governs all competitions in regard to floor area (13m X 13m/approx. 42.5 ft. square), time limit, musical accompaniment, attire of the gymnast and the judges, listed elements of difficulties and deductions for poor execution or imperfect composition.
The events – rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon – are governed by rules regarding the size, weight, color and material. Each gymnast’s equipment is measured and approved before competition. Presently, national and international competition involves individual routines and group routines.
Rhythmic gymnastics involves body movements and dance of varying type and difficulty combined with the handling of small equipment. Certain acrobatic and pre-acrobatic elements are allowed, providing the gymnast shows no flight. No more than three acrobatic elements are permitted per routine. Handsprings and aerials are not allowed. Rhythmic gymnasts must demonstrate the coordination and control of a well-trained dancer, and convey a harmony of movement with the music. In the group exercise, there is a required minimum number of exchanges and formations.
The equipment must be handled harmoniously with the body and music throughout. The exercise is done with music. The music length for individual exercises is 75-90 seconds, and for group the range is 2:15 minutes to 2:30 minutes.
Each routine contains difficulties either isolated or in combination with apparatus manipulation. The difficulty value is determined by the FIG – A difficulties are considered easier and the J difficulties are considered the most difficult. The choreography must cover the entire floor area and contain a balanced choice of the groups of elements, including jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements.
There are three panels of judges for each routine. One panel judges the Technical Value, or the composition of difficulty for the routine; the second panel judges the Artistic Value of the routine, the general choreography, choice of elements, and presentation of the routine; and the third panel judges the execution of the routine, which is how the gymnast performs.