Having a Ball with Gymnastics

The upcoming events at World Gymnaestrada in Finland (July 12-18) will highlight some of the most intricate and interesting performances gymnastics has seen. Without a doubt, the most spectacular will be the group events, with hundreds, possibly thousands of participants in a single routine. A performance of any kind on that scale is extraordinary. But the individual gymnastics competitions can put some of the most flexible, agile, and athletic gymnasts in the spotlight. These are the performers that take our breath away. 

Weighing no more than a book or a glass of sweet tea, the ball, a gymnastics apparatus, is used by female gymnasts to underscore their mastery of movement. The ball is held in the hand, rolled on different parts of the body, and launched into the air and caught during the routines. Now, the truly impressive part about a ball routine is that even without the ball, it would be impressive, stunning even. Ball gymnasts have incredible flexibility and grace, and just watching them inspires a sense of awe. The fact that they can be so artfully fluid while maintaining control over an apparatus is almost unbelievable.

Some of the most memorable moments in rhythmic gymnastics, those whose artistry paints pictures of limitless joy, wistful melancholy, and even the loss of one’s soul, are often overshadowed by the spectacle of massive group routines. But it is impossible to deny that the visual artistry of the rhythmic gymnasts is something to be felt, savored, revisited, and cherished.

Enjoy the teamwork and coordination that pulls some of the group events together. Bask in the colorful spectacle of the Gymnaestrada, but don’t forget to visit the museum of grace that is the individual rhythmic gymnastics performances.