If you don’t take part in gymnastics yourself you might have seen the white cloth-like grip on the hands of gymnasts as they compete on the gymnastics bars during the Olympic games and wondered why they are wearing it. What you are looking at is a gymnastics grip.
Keep reading to find out some exciting reasons why gymnasts wear grips.
If you are a gymnast then you’ll most likely know what it feels like when calluses start to appear or your skin starts to break and gripping the kip bar produces a big “OUCH!!”. This is a sign that you need to quickly find a gymnastics grip and apply some rip balm.
Gymnasts usually choose to wear a gymnastics grip for one of the following reasons but if you have any more ideas we would love to hear them.
Reducing friction – Wearing a gymnastics grip helps protect your skin
During gymnastics practice when you are swinging on the bars or straddling the pommel horse your hands and fingers have to grip tightly. The friction between your fingers and the fibreglass / wooden bars is forceful and for many people this can cause your skin to rip. You can try applying rip protection balm to your hands, but if the problem is particularly bad or you are waiting for old rips to heal then wearing a gymnastics grip can offer you some much needed protection. Consider wearing a grip to save yourself from having to dismount early and take a few days rest while your skin heals.
In gymnastics circles a lot of people bring up the question of whether wearing a grip will stop your hand and skin from thickening and becoming stronger and more able to grip better naturally. There isn’t much evidence for or against this theory but we would use our common sense and experience to suggest that younger gymnasts try to practice without gymnastics grips until they start to perform the kip consistently and begin reaching for more advanced bar skills that require them to hold onto the bar for longer. The reduced friction can help massively with higher level skills.
Increased grip strength and better control
Using chalk is one of the most common ways gymnasts stop their hands from slipping on the bars. If you are using chalk and you still feel like your hands aren’t sticking on the bars and turning round comfortably then it might be worth wearing a grip. A gymnastics grip produces less friction than your hand and this means you can swing more easily and for longer whilst also feeling like you have better control.
Make sure you are gripping the bar properly before trying out a grip. If you have a bad technique for gripping onto the bar in the first place then solving this might stop you needing to wear a grip in the first place.
When gymnasts attempt to perform a skill known as “Giants” which is 360 degree rotation around the horizontal bar then wearing a dowel grip which has a wooden bar inside can actually help the gymnast secure themself by clamping onto the bar making it easier to perform longer and more technical routines.