Blog Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition Guide

Being familiar with rhythmic gymnastics calendar.

A competition schedule for rhythmic gymnasts is usually developed by the USA Gymnastics by October/November. Here you can find the information on upcoming rhythmic gymnastics events across the USA. As a parent of a gymnast you are required to indicate, which competitions your daughter is going to attend, so your rhythmic gymnastics school can register her for events.

Paying entry fees.

The hosting gym establishes a deadline entry date that is can be from ten days up to six weeks prior to the event. All entry fees should be paid prior to this date; otherwise there is a late athlete fee. Rhythmic gymnastics competition entry fees may vary, depending on the hosting gym and a gymnast’s level (from $60 – $80/Level 3 up to $140 – $160/Levels 9&10).

Getting detailed information on the competition.

Vitrychenko Academy group routineIn most cases the hosting club does not establish sessions and times until the registration is closed. This all takes time so be ready that you won’t know the exact day/time your gymnast is competing until typically a week prior to the competition. This means that if a competition is scheduled for 3 days you have to keep the entire period clear for the competition. Do not call the hosting gym for information – they are really busy getting ready for the competition. Ask your coach instead – this is her responsibility to furnish you with this information.

Planning your visit to the competition.

Your coaches or the competition website will give you important information on the competition location and schedule. It’s your responsibility to buy airplane tickets, book the hotel and plan everything else to bring your athlete to the competition on time. Don’t hesitate to ask the coach anything you need to know about the locations, including the best way to find it. If the competition is in an unfamiliar place, do not rely on Google Maps or your navigator only – ask for detailed instructions to ensure you’ll be able to quickly find the gym.

Understanding the Competition Schedule.

pre-competition warm-up
The competition schedule is divided into levels and groups. The essential information you need to know is what group your athlete belongs to (mostly is determined by the age). Typically, lower level teams get earlier sessions, so when attending your first competition, be ready to get up and get going early in the morning. Allow at least 7 hours for the competition.

The schedule gives you important information regarding the gym opening, warm-up, competition itself, and awards. Your athlete’s coach will probably tell you when you are supposed to check-in, but it’s useful to understand what the competition schedule means to better plan your day.

  • Gym opening time is the earliest time your gymnast can check-in.
  • Timed warm-ups usually take 15 – 20 minutes. Coaches typically ask their athletes to arrive long before the warm-ups, but they won’t start competing before the March-In. So, you can drop your athlete off, check her in for the competition, notify the coach, and go get some coffee nearby. If you have any relatives or friends attending the competition to cheer your gymnasts, tell them to arrive 10-15 minutes before the competition time.
  • March-In  usually precedes the competition to introduce the participants.
  • Competition itself for each level usually takes 2 – 4 hours depending on the number of participants.
  • Awards are given right after the competition in separate area. This means that Level 3 gymnasts will be awarded as soon as they finish their routines, while the athletes of other levels may be in the middle of the competition.

What You Should Bring to the Competition

      • Make sure your athlete has everything she needs to perform her routines.
      • Everyone, who is accompanying an athlete to the competition, has to pay admission to the gymnastics facility. It’s typically $12 – $15. You might also want to buy a program ($5 – $10), souvenirs, printed T-shirts and hoodies or even rhythmic gymnastics apparatus items, which are usually for sale in the gym during the competition.
      • Make memorable pictures of your athlete, team and coaches to capture one of the most important events in your daughter’s life – her first rhythmic gymnastics competition. Please remember that no flash photography is allowed during the competition. By the way, many professional photographers have permissions to shoot during rhythmic competitions, and they offer their services to parents of athletes. The photographer should be paid in advance. Your rhythmic gymnastics school will let you know if professional photo shooting is available at the competition.
      • Hairbrush, hairpins, hairspray, make-up kit… everything you need to make your gymnast groomed and ready for the competition. And, of course, you should try yourself as your daughter’s personal makeup artist and to learn how to make a perfect gymnastics hairbunbefore the competition. You still have a lot of time to do this!
      • Additional pair of half-shoes. If you daughter’s half-shoes become even slightly wet, which often happens when girls forget to change shoes when going to the gym’s bathroom, she will unlikely to be able to perform nice turns and spins on the carpet. Besides, a half-shoe can rip at any moment so it’s better to have an extra pair.
      • Tracksuit to keep your gymnast warm after she’s done with routines. It can take long time to wait for the awards and most of the gyms are pretty cool, especially in winter.
      • Water and healthy snack for gymnast – Gymnastics competitions usually last for a couple of hours and your daughter will be very thankful if she can eat something nutritious right after the competition. Check out a Gymnast’s Nutrition Guide to find the healthiest snacks for your athlete and to learn which food can help her maximize performance.

Arriving at the Gym

arriving at the gym

Plan to arrive for the competition in advance. Typically, lower level teams get earlier sessions, so when attending your first competition, be ready to get up and get going early in the morning. If you arrive before the gym opens you’ll be able to find a good parking spot and have a chance to avoid a long line of those buying an admission to the competition. Being early also helps your gymnast get a sense of the gym and feel more relaxed. After you drop off your gymnast and let her coach know she’s there you can always leave the gym facility to have some coffee nearby and return by the March-In.

Cheering Your Gymnast During the Competition

Before the competitions starts, don’t be neither a coach nor a judge, but a supportive parent, who is proud to share the joy of competition with her child. Don’t compare her to other gymnasts; don’t say she must do her best at the competition – your job is to encourage her and make her feel happy and confident, not nervous.

Once your daughter is the competition area for the warm-up, she is not allowed to have contact with you until the competition is over to avoid any distractions that could prevent having a successful routine. While your athlete is in the competition area it’s your coach’s job to monitor her condition, give advice and motivate her to do her best.

Naomi Skotnikov and Olena Vitrychenko

It’s absolutely fine to cheer up your athlete and her team members when they perform routines. The best moments for the words of encouragement and clapping are before her routine starts and at the end of her routine after she finishes major elements. Try to avoid cheering your gymnast in the middle of a hard skill – you are likely to distract her! Please remember that no flash photography is allowed during the competition. The sudden flash of light during performance can confuse a gymnast and even cause an injury. Flash photos are permitted during awards.

When the competition is over, coaches usually send gymnasts back to parents. No matter how she performed, this period before awards is the time to give your gymnast lots of hugs, showing her your love and appreciation.

Competition Etiquette for Gymnasts

      • Check-in for the competition 10 – 15 minutes before timed warm-up
      • Report to the coach after checking in
      • Wear a competitive leotard and a team suit if required
      • Be well groomed
      • Remain in the designated competition area during warm-up, march-in and competition
      • Obey all regulations and procedures
      • No crying and other excessive emotions
      • Be respectful to coaches, hosts, and competitors
      • Keep all personal belongings in the sport bag
      • Stay in the competition area until the coach gives permission to leave

Competition Etiquette for Gymnast’s Parents

      • Don’t enter the competition area
      • No flash photography is during the competition
      • Keep team spirit high, cheering up your athlete and her teammates when possible
      • Show respect to competition officials, coaches, competitors, and gymnasts’ parents
      • Do not discuss competitors’ performance during the competition

Vitrychenko Academy hopes this can be a good guide for parents of competitive rhythmic gymnasts in Illinois and beyond to make first gymnastics competition exciting for your athlete. You can be sure, when your gymnast enters her next competitive season, you will be already an experienced parent, who can distribute tips for having the best experience. If you have any questions about your daughter’s first rhythmic gymnastics competition, please, do not hesitate to contact us.

Guide courtesy of IK School of Gymnastics.

Rhythmic gymnastics competitive team