Rhythmic gymnastics routines are choreographed to music, involving body elements and dance combined with the handling of small equipment including a rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. The choreography must cover the entire floor and contain a balanced choice of jumps, leaps, pivots, balances and flexibility movements. Only four of the apparatus are competed each quad. The four for the 2012 Olympics are hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination. In the group event, athletes need to develop teamwork, sensitivity, quick adaptation and anticipation, in addition to the aforementioned skills.
Ribbon routines are comprised of snakes, spirals, swings, circles, throws and catches, and figure-eight movements. The ribbon must remain constantly in motion.
Look for swings, circles, rotations, wraps, unwraps, figureeight-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 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. Watch for the high throws and complex techniques for catching the hoop.
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.
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 manner. The more interaction between the gymnasts, the better the exercise. The 2012 Olympic events are ball (five gymnasts), and ribbon (three gymnasts)/rope (two gymnasts).