Combining the elegance of the ballet with the drama of the theatre, Rhythmic Gymnastics bursts with glamour, blurring the boundaries between sport and art. Rhythmic gymnasts strive to enchant judges and audiences with the polish of their exercises while executing enormously difficult maneuvers with one of four handheld apparatus: the Hoop, Ball, pair of Clubs and Ribbon.
Flexibility and musical interpretation are important elements in a Rhythmic exercise. However, it is the amount of risk a gymnast takes, often throwing the apparatus several meters into the air and losing sight of it while performing leaps, turns or acrobatic maneuvers before regrasping it — often in impossible-seeming catches — that sets her routines apart.
Trampoline gymnasts compete in one of four categories: Individual Trampoline, Synchronised Trampoline, Double-mini Trampoline and Tumbling. The best gymnasts often specialize in two of the four disciplines: Individual Trampolinists often compete pair up to compete in Synchro as well, while some top Double-mini gymnasts take part in Tumbling at the World level.
Unlike in other forms of Gymnastics, a fall from the apparatus ends a routine, giving each exercise an additional element of suspense.
Of all the disciplines of Gymnastics, Trampoline gymnasts get the biggest air, thrilling audiences with their high-flying exploits. Athletes use the Trampoline to catapult themselves to heights that can surpass 10 meters, the height of a three-story building. Without technological devices strapped to the body, Trampolining is as close as human beings get to flying solo.
Explosive and suspenseful, Double Mini-trampoline is the discipline for gymnasts who might enjoy being fired out of a cannon. The Double Mini-trampoline bed, one part angled, one part flat and located at the end of a long runway, is essentially two mini-trampolines joined together. It makes for a fantastic launching pad.
Gymnasts sprint down the runway toward the angled trampoline bed and use it to catapult themselves into the air, performing a number of flips and/or twists before rebounding on the trampoline and immediately re-punching to perform a second, usually even more complicated series of flips and twists. This second element finishes on the landing pad behind the Double Mini-trampoline.
The snare-drum rhythm of Tumbling runs — a quick, crisp string of eight tumbling elements — are performed on a special spring floor 25 meters long and two meters wide. The tumbling strip is preceded by an 20-meter runway, which gymnasts sprint down to gather momentum before hurling themselves into their tumbling sequences. At the end of the tumbling floor, softer landing mats are stacked to absorb the impact of the grand finale of the pass, usually the most difficult and spectacular element of all.
Acrobatic Gymnastics, performed on a standard 12-by-12 floor mat, is one of the few disciplines of Gymnastics in which no apparatus is used. For lifts, balances and throws — all principal components of Acro routines — the gymnasts must rely on each other. Their unique use of the human body as a launching pad, balancing post or — to cite one famous example, a jump rope — is what sets Acro apart.
Acrobatic gymnasts compete in one of five categories: Men’s Pair, Women’s Pair, Mixed Pair, Women’s Group (three women) and Men’s Group (four men).
No matter what category they compete in, gymnasts prepare three routines: A Balance routine, emphasising strength, flexibility, agility and of course balance, a Dynamic routine, where gymnasts show their mastery of pitching or being pitched into the air and executing flips or twists, followed by a controlled landing aided by one’s partner or partners, and a Combined routine, which incorporates both balance and dynamic elements.
In the fast-paced world of Aerobic Gymnastics, stamina and a smile are only two of the main ingredients for success. Aerobic, born out of the fitness trend of the 1970s and 1980s, fuses mainstream Aerobic exercises — including those done with the infamous step benches — with dance steps, Gymnastics elements, lifts and strength holds. Whipped up to music with a driving beat, a good Aerobic routine takes one’s breath away.
Aerobic offers several platforms for showcasing the discipline’s variety and creativity. Gymnasts can perform singly, or in Mixed Pairs, Trios, Groups of five or in the case of Aerobic Dance and Aerobic Step, teams of eight. In all categories, continuous movement is paramount: during a routine, gymnasts are never, ever still.
TWG 2017 Disciplines
- Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Trampoline Gymnastics
- Acrobatic Gymnastics
- Aerobic Gymnastics