Rhythmic Gymnastics as a Science and a Philosophy of Life
Raisa Teryokhina on the use of theory in sports
Gymnastics is a sport that not only requires great physical work, but also serious intellectual one. Scientists are trying to find ways for athletes to rejuvenate faster and train more efficiently while developing criteria for evaluating gymnastic elements. Raisa Teryokhina, head of the department of theory and practice of gymnastics in one of Russia’ leading sports universities, told us more on the matter.
Raisa Teryokhina - PhD in Pedagogy, Professor, head of the Department of Theory and Practice of Gymnastics in Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, Chairperson of the Public Council of the Ministry of Sport of Russian Federation
Raisa Teryokhina has been doing gymnastics since she was 8. She was not only a sportswoman and a coach. She was also a judge and an expert of International Gymnastics Federation for 24 years. Today, Ms. Teryokhina is a professor holding PhD in Pedagogy. Raisa Teryokhina is the head of an integrated team of general scientific methodological support of Russian rhythmic gymnastics team.
Our interviewee is working in Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, which is the first higher sports education institution in Russia. That is the place where rhythmic gymnastics was born.
In 1934, Lesgaft Higher Courses opened the Higher School of Rhythmic Movement with the active participation of the masters of Mariinsky Theatre. Rhythmic gymnastics became the leading subject.
The sport came a long and uneven path to separate from other types of gymnastics. At that time already, much attention was drawn to theory. Thus, specialists from gymnastics department designed first textbooks, developed labelling schemes, and defined the tournament rules.
The university’s archives have many exceptional materials. Raisa Teryokhina told the first ever PhD thesis on rhythmic gymnastics ever was defended in 1946. The work addressed the sport as the means of physical and aesthetic education.
As of now, just two PhD theses on rhythmic gymnastics were defended in Russia. The first belongs to Irina Viner-Usmanova, a legendary coach of Russian team. Elena Medvedeva presented the second work.
Having extensive experience in coaching and judging, Ms. Teryokhina knows first-hand that rhythmic gymnastics is a sport relying on expert subjective assessment. That is why, it was important for her as a scientist to provide a scientific basis for the value of every element in rhythmic gymnastics. It can only be done objectively through the laws of biomechanics. So, professor focused on that together with Elena Medvedeva, her apprentice, in her thesis.
The science Raisa Teryokhina deals with is based on psychology, pedagogics, and biomechanics.
Gymnastics is a precise sport. Its development is impossible without active participation of scientists from different fields. This is because gymnasts need both physical and psychological training. They should be able to reckon their abilities and concentrate.
The Department of Theory and Practice of Gymnastics considers athletes’ rejuvenating of special interest. Ms. Teryokhina mentioned the fatigue does not depend on the duration of practice.
Scientists aim to help coaches design the most efficient and balanced training programmes and rejuvenating activities for athletes.
Raisa Teryokhina takes pride in Russia as the motherland of rhythmic gymnastics. Our interviewee shared: “We feel greatly responsible for the development of this sport. Thus, we set considerable goals aimed at developing rhythmic gymnastics both in Russia and abroad. The word ‘gymnastics’ can be translated from Greek as ‘development, improvement’. It is not just a sport: it is a real science, philosophy, and lifestyle. I am happy I have a chance to contribute to its development”.
Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Boykov