Ringo – Polish Sports Game for Everybody

Utworzono: sobota, 10, marzec 2012

 

Włodzimierz Starosta, Mariusz Wangryn

"Sport is the elixir of youth, and the ringo is a sport most
universal and accessible to everyone. Ringo required full symmetry
of movement, which accelerates the development of functional brain.”

[Starosta, 1995]

Introduction

Ringo – a sports game invented by the well-known fencer and journalist Włodzimierz Strzyżewski (MA) - has now been in existence for over 50 years  and, since 1973, as a Polish sport for everyone. From that date onwards the Polish ringo championships have been organised. Thanks to the extraordinary energy, enterprise and persistence of its inventor, as well as numerous activists, 39 International Championships of Poland, 8 European Championships and 5 World Championships have already taken place (last in Minsk, 2011). Moreover, several hundred competitions of various importance have been organised: from estate championships to international contests (i.e. Germany-Poland, Belarus-Poland, Lithuania – Poland, South Africa-Poland), and even World Journalists Championships. The tournaments have been organised in various countries on almost all continents.

The game of ringo has undergone a long evolution. For its founder, it had been an element of fencing training, which later evolved into an enjoyable form of entertainment and wonderful recreational sport which could be trained by anyone, regardless of seasons and other conditions. The second evolutionary trend was ringo as a professional sport. Along with the development of the techniques and applied tactics came the changes in the regulations. Currently ringo is a sports game with rich technique and tactic, as well as numerous health values. The position of this game, with its dual – individual and team – character, has now visibly set. It is played in many European countries, and is gaining popularity in many countries outside Europe. Polish Ringo Association, which was only set up in 1989, and International Ringo Federation, formed a little later [1993] are organising large international ringo events of the highest rank, i.e. European and World Championships.

This original Polish idea deserves larger promotion, as it is fit for becoming a national sport. It is particularly so in view of constantly decreasing physical activity followed by a decrease in resistance to civilisation diseases, as well as in view of the growing numbers of obese people (nearly 50% of the Polish population). According to the inventor of the game, “ringo is a gift for Poland and the world” and “the most democratic of all sports” [Strzyżewski, 1972, 1979, 1999]. Movement activity connected with ringo game has positive influence of human particular systems and organs (Fig.1).

ringo

 

1. Ringo and its advantages

1.1. Versatility and movement universality

    Ringo’s merit lies in movement universality. This game requires movement versatility simultaneously favouring its development. This versatility includes a set of various movement abilities and mental characteristics (Fig. 2). Space-time orientation, speed reaction adequate to the situation, kinaesthetic differentiation of movements, movement rhythmisation, cooperation (in twos or threes), movement connection, adaptation (combination), muscle relaxation and balance preservation are the coordination abilities ensuring success in the game. Manifestation of 9 from among 11 coordination abilities is essential in ringo game. This discipline requires also all the physical abilities: speed, endurance, strength (strength accuracy), jumping ability.

ringo

Optimal composition of movement abilities and mental characteristics ensures success in ringo. The most important movement abilities are: movement and reaction speed, as well as their adequacy to the situation on the court, space-time orientation, kinaesthetic differentiation of movement, balance preservation, and the leading mental characteristics are: psychological resistance (or, in other words, the ability to control and regulate emotions), anticipation (predicting the opponents actions), persistence in achieving aims, determination. These abilities and characteristics are becoming more and more essential for the contemporary man, both in everyday life as well as in professional life. Scoring points in ringo requires moving around the court fast, displaying dynamic speed and moving rationally to the place where the ringo was thrown. To win a victory one needs the ability to predict the opponent’s actions – “to guess his/her intentions”. This ability is called anticipation. It is a comprehensive ability – susceptible to shaping and improvement in the training process. It makes it possible to behave more effectively on the court, which leads to more frequent successes. It may also be called shrewdness. It is closely connected to the possibility of using more effective game tactic against a specific opponent. Manifestation of anticipation requires specific movement intelligence and the skills of tactical thinking. Without it, it is impossible to achieve a high level of the “feeling of ringo.”

Ringo requires and at the same time develops high precision of movements. One of the basic elements of the gaming technique - the throw must be precise (to a place out of the opponent’s reach) and made in the shortest time possible, so that the opponent does not have a chance to counteract effectively, that is to take over the ringo. This accuracy (time-limited) is necessary during the entire game, regardless of its duration, the player’s mood, growing fatigue, result of the game and a variety of other, both subjective and objective factors. The range of the accuracy fluctuation influences strongly the result of the game and determines the victory in a set or match – therefore it determines the success. Thus, winning a tournament with a large number of participants requires high level of coordination endurance and buoyancy / psychical resistance. Ringo match lasts – depending on the players’ level – from 10 to 15 minutes. During some of the tournaments, in order to become a finalist it is necessary to win from 7 to 18 matches in one day. The number of matches played depends on the number of players in a given age group.

1.2. Movement symmetry – technique

Ringo, in principle, does not require movement symmetry, i.e. equal or nearly equal dexterity of both hands. A left or right-handed player might achieve success as well. However, he may not be able to repeat that success, as his opponents observe his abilities and discover his weaknesses. If he does not symmetrize his technical abilities (does not work on equalising the dexterity of both hands), he will remain a “defective” player. A rationally thinking opponent will be able to use this weakness to gain advantage. It is impossible to effectively “cover” the entire court using one – dominant hand only, especially when confronted with a both-handed opponent.

Highly advanced players build up similar dexterity of both hands. It provides them not only with higher technical versatility, broadening considerably the range of tactical operations, but also an even functional development of both hemispheres. Improving the ability of the “inferior” hand, we significantly improve the movement accuracy of the dominant hand. Research results and pedagogical experiments conducted upon players of various sport disciplines – with ringo among others –provide evidence supporting this claim [Starosta, 1975, 1990, 2003, 2008]. The symmetrisation of the sport technique had positive effects regardless of the players’ age, advancement level, sex or technical preparation. On this occasion we increase the level of specific kinaesthetic sensations comprising the “feeling of ringo” without which it would be difficult to imagine high level of technical mastery [Starosta, Strzyżewski, 2001].

Movement versatility required in ringo includes the ability to perform basic technical elements: throw and catch the ringo with right and left hand. It is especially important in the game of singles, in which the player should “defend” his half of the court by preventing the ring from falling anywhere on it (a 9 x 9m2 square, which gives 81 square metres2). In a confrontation of one-handed and ambidextrous players the latter are more often victorious. Higher level of movement symmetry allows to perform the basic technical elements with right and left hand with equal efficacy. What is more, it enables the player to use symmetry as an efficient tactical manoeuvre.

In appreciation of the value of symmetrisation of the technique in ringo, the rules regarding tournaments include the possibility to require ambidexterity of the players. So far, this requirement has been theoretical, although it was enforced in some training groups during practice and tournaments. The effects of this enforcement display significant improvement of movement accuracy and technical level. It also had some influence over the results during the International Championships of Poland.

1.3. Availability – ringo for everybody

The basic elements of the ringo game technique are the natural human movements: running, jumping, throwing and catching. Every man has had contact with these in his everyday life and during physical education classes at school. Moderate level of movement fitness enables learning the elementary techniques of the game, along with the basic rules, in 15-20 minutes. Simple rules and technical elements of the game are conducive to this. The perspective of verifying one’s own movement possibility and confronting with an opponent entices and attracts people of all ages. Ringo game is a sport for everybody, regardless of age. Ringo competitions are open in character, i.e. everybody can participate in them. They are often played in 19-30 different age categories, from 8 year-olds to veterans (over 65). Some of the participants are over 70. They are, therefore, intergenerational meetings. It seems that no other sport discipline offers similar opportunity.

Ringo game may aspire to the name of the perfect sport, i.e. suitable for a family, for all seasons. Two categories of family triples, in which the participants compete even during championships of the highest rank, i.e. Polish, European and World Championships. The first category encompasses parents with a child or two children (15 or younger) with a parent, and the second includes parents (or one parent) with children over 16. World Family Tournaments are organised at several years intervals.

The chance to verify ones skills, regardless of age or sex, gives ringo a deeper social and psychological sense, as well as remarkable integration values, e.g. integration within family or other groups (i.a. such as estate community, holidaymakers, etc.). It seems especially important at a time of growing trend towards disintegration and divorce. Some of such events might be avoided with the use of a successful integrator, which sport – and ringo as a part of it – can be. This value of the game has not been given proper appreciation by the physical education, sports and recreation (and other) specialists.

The availability of ringo leads to its introduction as part of a variety of events (i.e. recreational festivals), sometimes even those accompanying the Olympic Games (it was presented in Montreal, Munich, Moscow, Atlanta and Sydney). Ringo game is also a wonderful form of physical activity on the beach. It could successfully compete with beach volleyball, should its promotion be at least partially as active and intensive as that of volleyball.

1.4. “Feeling of ringo” and its importance in the game

Technical mastery consists mainly of the kinaesthetic sensations that are characteristic for this discipline and that form the terms: “feeling of ringo” and “feeling of court”. The first kind of feeling has a unique meaning. It is the ability to put optimal strength (to diversify and divide this strength) into a throw and to give the action the speed necessary for the ring to fall onto exactly planned spot, where it will be impossible for the opponent to catch it. Such feeling allows for increase of technical performance precision, and obtaining high level of the feeling of ringo requires long and regular training. Training discontinuity requires “refreshing” of the kinaesthetic sensations. The level of these sensations decreases under fatigue as well. Therefore, during intervals in the game the players hold the ringo in the weaker hand quickening the “refreshing” of the dominant hand’s kinaesthetic sensations, and implicitly also the “feeling of ringo” [Starosta, 2003, 239-296]. It is built upon the level of various coordination abilities. The higher this level, the better the “feeling of ringo”. Thus the economy of movements fuses with their precision in ringo game.

The „feeling of court” complements the “feeling of ringo”. Its basis is high level of space-time orientation enabling immediate evaluation based on the flight of the ringo: where could it fall, and will it fall within the court boundaries? It is therefore a feeling of the court’s size and shape. “Eye-measuring” function is an utterly important element of this feeling. The experience gained over time enables the player to evaluate the ring’s speed and flight trajectory instantly and, basing on that, predict the place where it would fall. The „feeling of court”, like the “feeling of ringo” is developed as a result of many years’ training. Its level is variable and depends on a multitude of conditions: the level of movement abilities, sport class, player’s experiences, oriented training, the level of emotions, training period.

The “feeling of ringo” (Fig. 3) and the “feeling of court” belong to the coordination abilities. The structure of the “feeling of ringo” has recently been examined [Starosta, 1995, 2003]. It has been described upon the basis of six coordination abilities. The cooperation ability, the ability to combine movements and its symmetrisation, muscles relaxation and movements expressiveness have been omitted. Even in this narrowed execution the structure is a combination of 34 elements. The highest number of elements may be found in the ability of kinaesthetic movement differentiation (n=9) and space-time orientation (n=7). It was a preliminary structure. The meaning of this feeling is immense but not always appreciated. Its level is one of the basic elements of technical mastery on which the success in sport depends.

 

 

1.5. Ringo game characteristics

 The aim of the game is to score 15 points. The game combines defending one’s own half of the court with throwing the ringo in such a way that it falls on the opponent’s half. Each party mistake a point for the opponent’s error. Ringo weighs 160-165 grams. The court for team ringo is 9m by 18m. The size of the ringo court for individual games varies from 6m by 12m to 9m by 18m. Its size, as well as the height of the line (net) dividing the halves, depends on the age of the players. Ringo is the only sports game in which these have been subject to the physical and movement development of the competitor, especially of child (table 1). Ringo is a game of dual – individual and team – character (single sex doubles, mixed doubles, triples, family triples ). The size of the court (area) (Fig. 4) one ringo player has to defend depends on the number of players (from 27m2 in triples to 81m2 in singles). “Covering” such area demands quick reactions and movements as well as a variety of movement abilities.

 Table. 1. Table.1. Ringo game - age categories of competition and its proportion to field (court) size and net high [Starosta, Wangryn, 2011]

LNo

Name

Age

 Net high (cm)

 Wymiary boiska

Singles 

1

Kids (girls) under

no older than 10

200

6 x 12

2

Kids (boys) under

no older than 10

200

6 x 12

3

Youngsters (girls)

11 - 13

224

7 x 14

4

Youngsters (boys)

11 - 13

224

7 x 14

5

Cadets (girls)

14 - 16

243

8 x 16

6

Cadets (boys)

14 - 16

243

8 x 16

7

Juniors (girls)

17 - 19

243

8 x 18

8

Juniors (boys)

17 -19

243

8 x 18

9

Women (open)

20 - 29

243

8 x 18

10

Men (open)

20 - 35

243

8 x 18

11

Amazons (women)

30 – 39

243

8 x 16

12

Oldboys (men)

36 – 45

243

8 x 16

13

Senior (women)

40 – 49

243

8 x 16

14

Senior (men)

46 – 50

243

8 x 16

15

Veteran I (women)

50 – 59

243

7 x 16

16

Veteran I (men)

56 – 66

243

7 x 16

17

Veteran II (women)

60 and more

243

7 x 14

18

Veteran II (men)

67 and more

243

7 x 14

Doubles

19

Schoolgirls

no older than 16

243

9 x 18

20

Schoolboys

no older than 16

243

9 x 18

21

School Mixed

no older than 16

243

9 x 18

22

Women’s doubles

from 16

243

9 x 18

23

Men’s doubles

from 16

243

9 x 18

24

Mixed

from 16

243

9 x 18

Mixed triples

25

Mixed triples

no older than 16 lat

243

9 x 18

26

Mixed triples

from 16 lat

243

9 x 18

Family triples

27

Family triples I  children

under 16

(game 1 wheel)

243

9 x 18

28

Family triples II  children

of 16

 (game 2 wheels)

 

243

 

9 x 18

29

  Family triples (mother, daughter, granddaughter)

any age

243

9 x 18

30

  Family triples (father, son, grandson)

       any age

243

9 x 18

   

   The elementary variety of the game requires mastering only one kind of throw and catch. Higher advancement level calls for mastering quite a large number of technical elements divided into four groups: throws, catches, faints and serves (Fig.5). Each group consists of numerous varieties of element performance with some important – throws: from bottom (Fig.6), discus (Fig.7), javelin (Fig.8), from above (Fig.9). It is the first attempt at classification of the technical elements [Starosta, Strzyżewski, 2001]. Mastering of these elements results from regular training and specific level of coordination abilities. The mastering and proficient use of almost all of them during the game with accordance to the opponent’s skills and tactic determines the value of the player and his future successes. 

ringo

ringo

 ringo

ringo

   1.5.1. Ringo game is characterised by a lack of physical contact with the opponent (the players are divided by a net). This fact decreases the possibility of injuries resulting from collision with the opponent or with the hard court surface. Brutality connected with the physical contact with the opponent is therefore eliminated.

   1.5.2. Ringo as a sports game demands manifestation of movement coordination on the highest , i.e. third level (Fig.10). It means that the game requires manifestation of precision and speed movements performed under changing conditions. As such, it also develops movement coordination in so far as these three levels are considered. Mastering a large number of technical elements and using them during the game allows for comprehensive improvement of different coordination abilities.

Speed enabling catching the ringo in every place on the court has a special place among the leading coordination abilities. During a prolonged sport struggle, victory may be determined by the movement coordination endurance ensuring movement accuracy (i.e. precise aim and sending ringo in the most convenient direction) throughout the entire set.

Success in ringo game depends also upon the level of coordination abilities. This level should manifest itself in their optimal composition. This composition might have different hierarchy of leading coordination abilities depending on the technical element performed. It means that performing each technical element requires different hierarchy. Performing throws (Fig.11) and catches (Fig. 12) demands especially contrasting hierarchy.

Some somatic symptoms bear significance in ringo game as well. Height and arm outreach are among the leading. They allow throwing the ring low over the net, more accurate covering of the court and steering ringo so that the parabola of its flight starts in the highest point possible and ends at a high angle in proportion to the court surface.

Ringo requires high movement precision, manifesting itself in performing throws to the least protected spot on the opponent’s half of the court. The throw should be accurate and performed quickly, so that the opponent does not have the possibility to counteract and catch the ring. This precision (time-limited) needs to be manifested throughout the meeting (set or a series of sets) regardless of its duration, fatigue, mood, results or any other subjective or objective factors. The precision fluctuation range (level of stability) influences significantly the result of the game and determines the success. A ringo match during a competition lasts, depending on the players abilities, form 10 to 15 minutes and it is necessary to win from 7 to 18 matches in one day in order to pass to the finals.

 

2. Advantages of ringo game

In a relatively short time ringo has transformed from a play into a sport discipline becoming popular among members of different generations (sometimes people from 2-3 generations play in one team). This happened without any kind of promotion in the mass-media which is interested mostly in Olympic sports. It may be explained by the fact that the advantages of ringo, which many other sport disciplines (Olympic disciplines among them) do not possess, have come widely unnoticed. Therefore a question arises: why and how does ringo attract interest and attention? There are many reasons. Out of necessity, I shall concentrate on those most significant, which might ensure further growth of ringo’s popularity in our society.

2.1. The simplicity of gaming technique

The main elements of the game technique are throws and catches. Nearly everybody has had contact with these previously, either in everyday life or during physical education in school. Therefore, while possessing average level of movement fitness it is possible to learn the basic rules (which are relatively simple) and techniques of ringo within 10-15 minutes. After 20 minutes’ learning with an experienced instructor a novice may play a ringo match. The perspective of verifying one’s movement possibilities and comparison with an opponent (also a beginner) invites and attracts people of all ages like a magnet. Even more so, since the need to move and the fighting instinct has not yet been blocked in human genetic code. No other sports discipline offers such, almost instant, possibility. For example in tennis one needs to have a rather long tennis wall practice before being able to match an opponent on court. In this context the fact that mastering all the elements of ringo game requires long and systematic practice, bears little importance. In fact, there is no requirement demanding such practice. There is a simple rule: “If you wish to win, you need to practice” [Starosta et al., 1982].

2.2. Availability of ringo game

This advantage is closely connected to the game’s simplicity. The once popular saying: “Ringo is sport and recreation for everyone” was no slogan. It is truly a sport for everyone, regardless of age, since numerous open competitions, i.e. in which everybody can participate, are organised. What is more, there are 19-30 categories, from 8 year-olds to the veterans (56 and more). Even people over 70 take part in the competitions. Therefore ringo is a meeting of several generations. This wide offer characterises even the International Championships of Poland, European and world Championships. Thus, the players represent different professions and age. No other sports discipline offers such opportunity.

Ringo game may be easily learned by anyone regardless of age, sex or movement fitness level. Ringo, from the very beginning of its existence, has been promoting equality of the sexes. Both girls and boys, women and men may participate in the competitions in the same number of categories. In this sense it is an offer for everyone and it also accounts for the ringo phenomenon. This general availability of ringo is sometimes referred to as game democracy [Strzyżewski, 1972, 1976]. There is a deeper philosophical reflection in this claim. In ringo game a child very quickly becomes a match for an adult player (e.g. father or mother), a woman for a man, an elderly person for a youth, and even a grandfather for his grandson. The perspective of equalling the chances soon is an incentive for some but may discourage others. In this light, ringo game becomes a universal measuring instrument for the movement fitness and the manifestation of mental characteristics. It is one of the undeniable advantages of this sport discipline.

The possibility of comparing skills, regardless of age or sex, gives ringo a deep social and psychological sense, and above everything unique values prompting integration of diversified persons, e.g. family or other groups (i.a. such as estate community, holidaymakers, etc.). It is extremely important nowadays, when the number of divorces is growing. Perhaps some of them might be avoided with the help of a successful integrator such as sport, and ringo game. It seems that physical education, sport and other experts have not evaluated this advantage properly.

2.3. Ringo – non-investment game

An important factor restricting the availability of sport for an average citizen is the systematically growing cost of using various facilities (swimming pools, ice-rinks, tennis courts, etc.) enabling manifestation of any physical activity. Ice-skating, for example, requires some fairly expensive equipment, clothes, ice-rink entrance fee, costs of transport etc. Tennis is more expensive, as buying an average quality racket is quite costly. And owning a racket is but the beginning.

Ringo is an unusually low-cost discipline. The sport outfit necessary is no different than that used by children during physical education classes, i.e. a t-shirt, shorts and sport shoes. Every self-respecting European should own such equipment. In order to be able to play ringo it is necessary to buy a non-expensive ringo and to find a place for a court. It is possible to play ringo on various surfaces: concrete, grass, sand, etc. In the summer it is possible to make a court on the beach. Hanging the ringo line on a proper height and setting the size of the court are the requirements that need to be fulfilled to start playing.

To conduct training for advanced players, it is essential to buy a special portable court set, containing poles on which the net is suspended and the lines which will delimit the court boundaries. When there is lack of such equipment, it is possible to use a volleyball court (these are often found at schools). Compared to other sport disciplines, ringo may be called a non-investment game. It is one of those few sports in which training and competitions are conducted mostly outdoors. This brings additional health and hygiene values.

 

References

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