This article is the first in a series that will cover the fundamentals of gymnastics ring training in fine detail. We will begin with what is the foundation of ring work, the support. Although it may seem a straightforward and simple move (especially to those of you who have never had occasion to try rings yet), understanding the theoretical and practical details of the support will give you a deeper understanding of the potency of ring training in general.
The simplest description of a support is to hold your body above the rings with straight arms. Most people's first experience with ring training is entering the support position and shaking like a madman. This brings up a common misconception about the rings: that they are unstable. However, the rings have a fixed point of equilibrium. Push the rings and they will always, eventually, come back to where they started. So, if the instability you feel doesn't come from the rings, where does it come from? Your brain and central nervous system. Your brain is sending a signal to your arms to hold the rings still. Noise within the signal, like static on the radio, is what causes the shakes. As your signal to noise ratio improves, so does the stability of your support. The performance benefit here is that you are teaching your body to apply force more productively. Ring training is very effective at inducing this noise because the rings move in frictionless plane. The slightest change in muscular tension will cause movement in the rings because there is no friction to hold them in place.