Each routine in rhythmic gymnastics requires the gymnast to do leaps, turns, balances and flexibilities. These movements are to be coordinated with the actions of one of the 5 pieces of apparatus namely:- rope, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon. The routines performed are similar to that of the floor exercise in the women's artistic gymnastics events, except that in rhythnic gymnastics, the routine is performed with 1 of the 5 apparatus mentioned.The gymnast exercise on an floor area of 12 m sq accompanied by music.The gymnast must perform with harmony to the music and the movements in the routine. The apparatus are to be used with both hands, thrown into air and to be kept in constant motion.
The 5 apparatus used by the gymnast are as follows:-
A ball made of rubber or synthetic material which is 18-20 cm in diameter should be rested in the gymnast's hand only. The movements include throwing, bouncing and rolling the ball. Both hands of the gymnast should be used; the entire floor area must be covered, while the gymnast shows continous movement.
The hoop made of plastic or wood, 80-90cm in diamater, is rotated around the hand or body and rolled. The gymnast swings, circles , do figure of 8, throws, passes through and over the hoop.
The rope is made of hemp or synthetic material, cut to suit the height of the gymnast, is without a handle. The gymnast skips with the rope, throws, perform lasso-type movements and releases-and- catches with the ropes.
The clubs are made of plastic of wood, 40-50 cm in length witha minimum weight of 150g each. The gymnast circles, rotates, throws, juggles and rolls the clubs. The clubs are usually considered the most difficult piece.
The ribbon is made of silk, 4-6cm in width and 6 m in lehgth. The first metre of the ribbon is double the thickness. The minimum weight of the ribbon is 35g. The stick is made of fibre glass, 50-60 cm length-wise and must be less than 1cm in diameter . It has an attachment on the end, often a swivel and hook, which joins the stick to the ribbon. The gymnast circles, spirals, snales and throws the ribbon. The ribbon must be kept in constant movement.
Alexandra Timonchenko from the Ukraine performing with the hoop, shows flexibility and style.