• Laura de Oliveira School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Vítor Ricci Costa Faculty of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Brazil
  • Kizzy Fernandes Antualpa Faculty of Education, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
  • Myrian Nunomura School of Physical Education and Sport of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Faculty of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Brazil



young athletes, rhythmic gymnastics, body dissatisfaction


This study aims to identify whether competitive rhythmic gymnasts feel body dissatisfaction and, if so, to analyze the factors related to its development and the implications for the gymnasts’ health. We interviewed 28 female gymnasts, aged between 13 and 16 years, from three teams in one Brazilian state. Based on the thematic analysis, we present the following themes: “Body, Performance, and Misconceptions in Rhytmic Gymnastics (RG)” and “Body weight in RG: Belief vs. Science.” Gymnasts’ dissatisfaction with their bodies appears to be influenced by their coaches, judges, and other athletes, who reinforce the existence of an established “ideal” body type in this sport. The athletes seem to believe that this body ideal would help them in the movements execution in the judges’ evaluation, and would, therefore, influence competitive performance. Their coaches used body mass measured on a set of scales as a reference for controlling and guiding weight loss. To lose weight at all costs, the gymnasts mentioned that they took laxatives and adhered to self-imposed calorie restriction. Excessive pressure to lose weight and obtain results could lead to or maintain body dissatisfaction and damage gymnasts’ health. Thus, coaches must be careful when associating weight loss with better performance; they need to consider the individuality of gymnasts and should not generalize them. Moreover, professional monitoring should be adopted, as well as the use of reliable and justified body evaluation methods. Preventive measures and coach education should also be implemented, and official agencies should regulate and punish any excessive and abusive practices.


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How to Cite

Oliveira, L. de, Costa, V. R., Antualpa, K. F., & Nunomura, M. (2021). BODY AND PERFORMANCE IN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS: SCIENCE OR BELIEF?. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 13(3), 311-321.

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