Can Gymnasts Wear Shorts? (guide)

Gymnastics is a sport that requires athletes to perform skills like tumbling, balancing, and leaping. While female gymnasts have traditionally competed in leotards, there has been debate around whether gymnasts should be allowed to wear shorts during competitions as well.

In this article, we will explore the rules and preferences surrounding gymnastics attire, particularly shorts and the difference in rules between male and female gymnasts.

gymnast destira shorts

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Gymnastics requires skill, strength, and flexibility to perform various routines and movements. Gymnasts often wear tight-fitting leotards that allow them to move freely and perform their routines without any hindrance. Among the different types of gymnastics attire, shorts are often a subject of interest and controversy. This article aims to provide an in-depth look into the rules and preferences surrounding gymnastics shorts.

2. What Are the Rules for Gymnastics Shorts?

The attire rules for gymnastics can vary depending on the governing body and the level of competition. However, there are general guidelines that all gymnasts must follow. Traditionally, female gymnasts have not worn shorts whereas male gymnasts have. However, shorts have become increasingly popular with female gymnasts who wish to be more comfortable and modest when performing.

FIG Code of Points and Shorts

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) is the governing body that regulates the rules and standards for international gymnastics competitions. According to the FIG Code of Points, gymnasts must wear “tight-fitting gymnastics clothing” that does not impair the judges’ view of the gymnasts’ movements. The Code also states that the clothing should not have any decorations or accessories that can cause injury to the gymnast or other competitors.

The code of points has changed very little for many years in regard to attire and as you can see, there is not an explicit rule that either promotes or prohibits the wearing of shorts.

Therefore, many people will point to coaches and clubs for creating their own standards and expectations which often meant that female gymnasts especially in the artistic discipline had to remove their shorts for competition and often training sessions as well.

National and Club Regulations

National gymnastics federations and clubs may have their own regulations regarding attire. Some may require specific colors or designs, while others may prohibit certain types of clothing. It is essential for gymnasts to check the rules and regulations of the competition they are participating in or the club they belong to.

destira leotard and shorts set

3. Why Do Gymnasts Wear Shorts?

Shorts are a popular choice of attire among gymnasts for several reasons.


Shorts provide more modesty around the hips and upper leg areas. For some female gymnasts, this is not an issue but others feel more confident especially when performing skills that involve the angle between the legs to be wide. For example, skills performed in straddle shapes or splits.

Male gymnasts have to wear shorts to protect all of their modesty so they have no choice for this very reason!

Safety and Comfort

Shorts can provide better mobility and comfort, especially in cold weather conditions. They also help prevent chafing and irritation caused by prolonged contact with the mat or the apparatus.

Aesthetics and Tradition

Shorts are also worn for aesthetic reasons. They can highlight the gymnasts’ leg muscles and create a visually pleasing effect during their routines. Additionally, shorts have been a part of gymnastics attire for a long time, and their tradition is still upheld in some gymnastics circles.

4. What Are the Different Types of Gymnastics Shorts?

There are various types of gymnastics shorts that gymnasts can choose from depending on their personal preferences and the competition regulations. All the popular leotard brands like GK, Obersee and Destira sell gymnastics shorts too. Here are some of the most common types:

Standard Gymnastics Shorts

Standard gymnastics shorts are typically made of stretchy materials like spandex or lycra. They are form-fitting and snug, allowing the gymnast to move freely and perform their routines without any restriction. When female gymnasts wear shorts at competitions, these are the most common type.

Compression Shorts

Compression shorts are tight-fitting shorts that are designed to provide support and increase blood circulation. They are often worn underneath regular gymnastics shorts to enhance performance and reduce muscle fatigue. They can be worn in training sessions but gymnasts don’t usually opt for this type of shorts at competitions because they are not as aesthetically pleasing.

Bike Shorts

Bike shorts are a type of short that covers more of the thigh and has a longer inseam. They provide more coverage and are suitable for gymnasts who prefer a more modest look. These are also more common in training, especially for younger gymnasts but again are not worn at competitions very often, if at all.

Hot Pants

Hot pants are a shorter version of bike shorts that provide less coverage and expose more of the thigh. They are popular among female gymnasts and often worn during warm-up routines.

Male Gymnastics Shorts

Male shorts are not tight fitting like the female versions however they still have a relatively high cut to around the mid-thigh area. Unfortunately, from a male perspective, there are not many options for types of shorts compared to female gymnasts. The only alternative is longs which are fairly tight-fitting and are worn like pants.

backward roll

Longs are common with male trampolinists and on artistic events like pommel, rings and parallel bars.

gymnast longs

5. How Should Gymnastics Shorts Fit?

The fit of gymnastics shorts is crucial to ensure proper movement and prevent any wardrobe malfunctions during routines. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the right fit:


The length of gymnastics shorts should be based on personal preference and competition regulations. Some competitions may require longer shorts, while others may allow shorter ones.


The waistband of the shorts should be snug but not too tight. It should sit comfortably on the waist without causing discomfort or restricting movement.


The fabric of the shorts should be stretchy and breathable, allowing the gymnasts to move freely and stay cool during their routine.

6. Can Gymnasts Choose Their Own Shorts?

Gymnasts can usually choose their own shorts, as long as they comply with the competition or club regulations. It is important to check the rules and regulations beforehand to avoid any disqualification or penalties.

Many brands will sell a leotard and shorts set that go well together.

7. What Are the Alternatives to Shorts in Gymnastics Attire?

Apart from shorts, gymnasts can also wear other types of attire like biketards and unitards.


Biketards are a type of one-piece suit that covers the torso and has shorts or leggings attached. They are a popular choice among gymnasts and are often worn during competitions.

jesskids biketard


Unitards are similar to leotards but cover more of the body, including the arms and legs. They provide more coverage and are suitable for gymnasts who prefer a more modest look.

capezio black unitard

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, gymnastics attire, including shorts, is subject to various rules and regulations that gymnasts must adhere to. The choice of attire can also depend on personal preference, comfort, and tradition. Gymnasts should consider the fit, length, and fabric of their shorts to ensure proper movement and avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. Apart from shorts, biketards and unitards are also popular alternatives in gymnastics attire.

9. FAQs

Can male gymnasts wear shorts?

Yes, male gymnasts must wear shorts with a leotard, but they are usually required to wear shorts that are above the knee.

Do gymnastics shorts have to match the leotard?

No, gymnastics shorts do not have to match the leotard but should comply with the competition or club regulations.

Can gymnasts wear shorts with designs or patterns?

It depends on the competition or club regulations. Some may allow it, while others may prohibit it.

Are there restrictions on the color of gymnastics shorts?

It depends on the competition or club regulations. Some may allow any color, while others may restrict the color to a specific range.

Can gymnasts wear shorts with pockets?

No, gymnasts are not allowed to wear shorts with pockets during competitions as it may pose a safety hazard.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Andrew Payne

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