What is your Strategy at a Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition?

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Rhythmic Gymnastics Competitions, but with moveworklove I've had the opportunity to attend these events in a different capacity than what I usually would have. It's also given me the time to observe and notice things I wouldn't have before. 

In my past life as a Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach one thing that was really import to me was that when my Rhythmic Gymnasts arrived at a Competition they knew what to expect and what to do. We had a firm process in place that helped them focus on why they were there and to cut out any uncertainty and distractions.

It doesn’t matter whether they are in Level 1 or 10, Junior or Senior Olympic Level - you should always have a plan. Your Rhythmic Gymnasts need to know the plan. Your ultimate goal should be that when your Gymnast walks onto the floor they are focussed and ready, not distracted by all the sideshows.

I thought I would share some guidelines that helped me a great deal as a Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach.

Competition Strategy

Simply put - what is your plan and process? Make sure that your Gymnasts know how to execute this plan as it gives them confidence and direction on the day. Also if the conditions are less than ideal, they will be able to work around this.

Stage 1: Arrival

  • How far in advance to your want your Rhythmic Gymnasts to arrive at the Venue?
  • When they get there what do they do?
  • What needs to be ready? (i.e. hair and make-up)
  • Where do they go?

Stage 2: Warm-up

  • How long are you going to be doing warm-up for? During this time you need to decide what amount of time is spent on warm-up and body preparation 
  • Be specific what your Rhythmic Gymnasts are going to be doing during this time

Stage 3: Routine Preparation 

  • Start with the last apparatus first. Work out how much time you need to allocate to each routine (i.e. 30 minutes per apparatus)
  • Take the main elements of the routine and go through these - be clear on how many repetitions the Gymnasts should be doing
  • Once this is complete, break the routines into small sections - 1/8; then 1/4; followed by 1/2 and then full routines
  • Decide on how many repetitions you would like them to do of each section. For example do a few slow repetitions where they really focus on each movement and then a few at normal speed. Decide what you would like them to focus on here. Is it predominantly handling or how the body is moving?
  • One IMPORTANT thing to remember about marking a routine - when a Rhythmic Gymnast marks something they need to do it with the same intensity and focus as a normal routine, except here they need to concentrate on arms, feet, legs and the smaller detail. There is nothing worse than watching someone mark a routine and they are doing it sloppily - seriously it’s just a waste of time - it does nothing for your process!
  • The competition is definitely not the time to try and teach or correct something new - but good grief, there are corrections that need to be constantly reinforced. Such as watch your free arm/hand; stretch your legs; point your feet; work on high releve; close in 5th; stay firm - don’t wobble; be clean; don’t grip the apparatus

Stage 4: Competition

  • Your Rhythmic Gymnasts should have gone through their apparatus before it's time to compete
  • The last apparatus that they warm-up with will be the one that they compete first with
  • Before they go onto the floor let them visualise the routine. There should be key points that they need to be reinforce before going onto the floor. I.e. arm and hand ready when you need to catch your equipment; watch out for this turn, make sure you prepare properly etc
  • After their routine, don't go into details too much detail, there will be time for this later - focus on the next apparatus that they need to get ready
  • They would have already done the bulk of the warm-up for this, so once again make sure they know what to do now - how many repetitions etc

Stage 5: Feedback

  • After the competition make sure you allocate time to give feedback to your Rhythmic Gymnasts
  • Make sure that it's good quality, realistic feedback that they can apply
  • Reinforce what went well and give constructive feedback on things that were less than ideal

Stage 6: Evaluate

  • Take time to reflect on how your plan worked
  • Analyse what needs to be tweaked and adjusted 
  • Apply the necessary changes and start the process again

I understand some of the Coaches have MANY Rhythmic Gymnasts competing at one Competition and that having something like this in place could seem quite daunting. This is all the more reason to have a solid plan in place. It keeps your girls organised, together and focussed. You need to teach it to them before the competition. Make it part of their training. They need to get to the venue and not pay any attention to the side shows. It should make no difference who is wearing a Swarovski bedazzled leotard, what equipment is being used or who the Judges are. It enables your to create a safe and secure environment for them to do well in.


Photo Credit: Oleg Naumov

Michelle Kleu
Michelle Kleu