Why do people think Rhythmic Gymnastics is boring?
Updated: May 31
Have you ever watched an international competition and thought that all the routines look the same? It seems the higher the level is, the more similar the performances get. Of course, there are differences in how different gymnasts execute their skills, but there is a reason why sometimes RG routines can easily fall in the lack of variety trap. This has to do with the way it's judged, with the difficulty scores (D scores) more specifically.
If you are an experienced gymnast you may be familiar with what the difficulty score is and how it works. If you don't, don't worry! We will be explaining how it works in order for everyone to understand how the difficulty scores affect the originality of RG routines, a problem that has been a controversy in the community for a while.
WHAT IS THE D SCORE?
There are four components that make up the Difficulties:
Body Difficulty (balances, pivots or spins, and leaps)
Dance Step Combinations
Dynamic Elements with Rotation
Apparatus Difficulty (throws and risks, masteries, fundamental apparatus difficulties).
Every element has a set score, and the more difficult it is, the higher the score is. The score is only obtained with elements that the gymnast can perform safely and with a high degree of aesthetic.
HOW IS IT CALCULATED?
First off, let's explain the basics. There are two-judge panels in RG competitions. One panel (E-panel) deducts scores depending on how technically incorrect the elements performed are.
The other panel (the D-panel) is the one we care about. They will identify the elements performed and give them the score set on the Code of Points.
Difficulty judges are divided into two groups. Two of them (the D1 and D2 judges) evaluate the number and value of the leaps, balances and pivots and value of the dance steps and record them in symbol notation. The other two judges of the panel, D3 and D4 do the same thing with dynamic elements with rotations and apparatus difficulties.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH IT?
In competitions, all participants of the same age and level end up doing pretty much the same skills. This contradicts the demand for originality and variety the sport requires and makes it a less enjoyable for a general audience that can't identify every single element in a routine and appreciate the difference in difficulty levels.
Because, let's face it, not every person that may enjoy the beauty of RG is going to be able to tell the difference between a "penche with support" and a "penche arch spin" at a speed that allows them to keep up with the rest of the routine. And RG should be enjoyable for everyone!
Naturally, it can't be helped for gymnasts to want to perform the skills with the highest score they can achieve at their level. And it happens to all sports where the difficulty is scored, it's part of the charm!
However, if the same skills are overused it can be boring to watch, especially in sports when the difficulty varies on small details that a general audience may not catch at first.
Another example of this is Figure Skating. It's not easy to tell the difference between a triple axel and a triple toe even if the first one is worth more than the other.
HOW COULD WE FIX IT?
As mentioned, the repetition of some skill in different routines can't be helped because if a skill is more difficult and the gymnast is able to do it obviously she will want to show her talent to the judges to get a higher score. But there are two things we could do to not make routines overly repetitive.
Change the definition of the composition requirements of the current CoP, in order to have a higher level of variety and diversity in the routines.
Change the training process to achieve a high-performance level in individual gymnasts.
This article is based on the study of Technical Content of Elite Rhythmic Gymnastics in 2016, and the Code of Points has changed but the system of Difficulty is still the same. Have a look at it here!
Do you think this may be a problem for the sport? Have you ever felt bored after seeing the same difficulties several times in a competition? Do you think people not into RG would enjoy it more if there was less repetition? Let us know what you think in the comments!