Baton twirling is a sport, similar to rhythmic gymnastics, in which a metal rod called a baton, is manipulated, while simultaneously making coordinated dance moves. Gymnasts perform dance and gymnastics moves that display agility, flexibility and coordination, to a background music. The sport is very popular in the United States, France, Italy, and Japan, the countries that dominate in most of the events.
In competitions, baton twirling routines can be performed solo, in pairs, trios or teams, with a single or multiple batons. Each participant or team is required to perform one or more of the following routines, Freestyle, Short program, or Paris.
Each routine is performed for a fixed time duration, and is judged by a panel of judges. Points are awarded for each routine, and the individual or team that scores the most points for all the routines is declared as the winner.
The World Baton Twirling Championships is the highest level of international competition held for the sport. The event features several solo and teams competitions, for both men and women. Since the sport was dominated by a few countries, an International Cup event was created where competitions were conducted in three levels, and the elite countries were not allowed to take part in lower level competitions.
- Winter Guard — an indoor sport of the color guard discipline in which teams perform several routines using supporting equipment to recorded background music.
- Rhythmic Gymnastics — uses the elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation.
- Marching Band — a large team of participants play musical instruments as they perform various routines while moving around on a huge outdoor field