The rings, sometimes ironically known as the still rings, are one of the male only events in the gymnastics circuit. In this event, gymnasts are expected to swing and hold different positions whilst keeping the rings, which hand freely, as still and controlled as possible. These routines are incredibly difficult and gymnasts tend never to exceed ninety seconds in routine length as beyond this their technique can become sloppy due to the excessive amount of strength exerted, just to keep the rings still, let alone in movement. A trick behind keeping the rings from swinging and unbalancing the gymnast is to keep them at maximum tension. This means the gymnast needs a good understanding of their gravity and how they can use it to their advantage too.
The apparatus for this event is simple. Two rings, usually of a moisture absorbent material, hang from rope or cable, down from either the ceiling, or a free standing frame. There must also be a landing mat directly under the apparatus for when the gymnast performs their dismount. Dismounts from the ring apparatus are particularly stunning as the gymnasts tend to spin far above the rings, giving them more time to spin and flip in their air before landing. As with all dismounts, the gymnast must land with poise and try not to step or fall as their feet meet the ground. As you can tell, there is nothing easy about a ring routine!
Unlike other gymnasts apparatus, judges can deduct points for things that they don’t think look good, for example if there is too much movement in the ropes, so everything has to look perfect! The judges also score on the technique and level of difficulty as they do in all events.
The rings are then, perhaps, one of the more impressive gymnastic events in terms of the sheer feats of strength shown by the gymnasts! This emphasis on strength, particularly upper-body strength, is why the event is classically associated with men. However, women do use the rings in training showing that, if you like the sound of this apparatus, it’s possible for anyone, with enough practice and training, to master the rings! Personally, I don’t like my chances, but if you’re inspired to have a go, let us know here at Kings how it went!