8 Facts about Rhythmic Gymnastics and AGG

Rhythmic gymnastics Team

Rhythmic gymnastics
is a sport that combines dance, ballet and gymnastic elements. What makes it unique and visually stunning is the elegant manipulation of one or two pieces of apparatus, such as ropes, balls, clubs, hoops or ribbons, along with beautifully designed leotards, artistic makeup and a carefully choreographed routine.

The Aesthetics Group Gymnastics (AGG) is a discipline of gymnastics which was developed from the Finnish “Women`s Gymnastics”. Although similar to rhythmic gymnastics there are few differences. Here, I will share some interesting facts about these two disciplines, their history and what makes them different from regular gymnastics.

1.The first ideas related to rhythmic gymnastics date back to the 18th century.

Jean-Georges Noverre, Francois Delsarte and Rudolf Bode were artists and creative-minded individuals who all believed in expression through movement.They first grew the idea that a person could dance to express him/herself while exercising various body parts. The idea was further developed by Peter Henry Ling in the 19th-century Swedish system of free exercise, where students had the complete freedom to express their thoughts and feelings through movement.

Catharine Beecher extended the idea in Ohio, USA, by including a program called ‘Dance Without Dancing’ at the Western Female Institute which she founded in 1837.

In France, George Demeny created exercises designed to promote good posture, flexibility and grace. All these and other ideas were combined in 1900 into the Swedish School of rhythmic gymnastics. However, they started the competition in the 1940s in the Soviet Union. The first World Championship for individual gymnasts in Rhythmic Gymnastics was held in Budapest in 1963 while groups were introduced later in1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

2.The first Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics was Canadian.

Lori Fung from Canada was the first Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. She was Canadian champion seven times and has received the highest Canadian civilian award, the Order of Canada as well as the Order of British Columbia.

3.The Aesthetics Group Gymnastics don`t use apparatus.

This is one of the main differences between AGG and rhythmic gymnastics. Another thing is that the AGG consists of a larger group or gymnasts, usually 6-10 while the children’s teams are even bigger. This discipline requires physical qualities such as flexibility, strength, balance, speed, coordination and sense of rhythm.

4. Rhythmic gymnasts use apparatus which is at least 5 meters long.

That`s right, the ribbon must have at least 5 m for juniors and 6 m length for seniors. Other equipment includes a hoop which can be made of plastic or wood and weigh at least 300 grams, a ball, made of rubber or synthetic material, and has to be at least 400 grams, a rope made of hemp with a size proportional to the gymnast, and clubs ranging in size from 48 to 53 cm.

5. Rhythmic gymnastics is one of the two female-only Olympic sports.

There are some exceptions to this rule. Japan and Spain allow men to participate in women`s competition. However, the men`s program is not formally recognised by the FIG and they can`t compete in the Olympics as rhythmic gymnasts. In 2003 Japan hosted the first men`s rhythmic gymnastics world championship which drew five countries: Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Korea and the United States.

6. Gymnasts start training at a very early age.

Starting at an early age is a good idea for developing and mastering the physical abilities needed for professional competitions. Gymnasts have to be 16-years-old before they can participate in the Olympics. For example, in Russia and Europe, gymnasts start training at an early age and reach their highest peak in their late teens.

7. Gymnasts cannot talk to each other during a routine.

This is one of the rules in rhythmic gymnastics, which, if broken, can result in a penalty. Other penalties include:

  • The gymnast or apparatus leaving the floor area.
  • The routine being shorter or longer than accepted.
  • Failure to end the routine the moment the music stops.
  • Communication with the coach.
  • Dress or music not conforming to regulations.

8. There are three-judge panels.

The jury is composed of the technical judge panel, the artistic judge panel and the execution judge panel. The technical jury decides whether the routine contains all the required technical elements, which are: balances, jumps, body movements, arm movements, acrobatic movements, flexibility movements and combined series.

The artistic jury is in charge of originality, expression and structure of the composition. The executive jury identifies mistakes during the routine such as insufficient extensions, heavy landings in jumps, lack of synchronisations, etc. The total score is 20 points:

  • Technical value - 6 points
  • Artistic value - 4 points
  • Execution - 10 points


image source: Wikimedia