Rhythmic gymnastics is an Olympic sport in which a sequence of extremely flexible dance-like exercises are performed by an individual or group of five gymnasts to music which, unlike the floor event in artistic gymnastics, is permitted to contain vocals but not words. Whilst traditionally, rhythmic gymnastics has been a competitive sport for women only, a new male version is currently being developed in Japan. The routines in rhythmic gymnastics consist of a combination of turns, leaps and balances, along with specific pieces of hand-held apparatus.
Whilst rhythmic gymnastics demands great flexibility, agility and coordination, the emphasis is on the grace and beauty of the routines over and above acrobatic achievement. Rhythmic gymnastics requires the gymnast or group of gymnasts to complete five different routines in a competition, each centred on a different piece of apparatus. The apparatus the gymnasts are required to use includes the ball, ribbon, hoop, clubs and a rope.