What Should My Child Wear to Gymnastics? (parents guide)

Starting gymnastics for the first time will be exciting but it will also create a lot of questions about what’s allowed, what’s not allowed, what to wear and what to take.

In this article, I’ll answer all of these questions and more so that your first visit to a professional gym facility is one to remember!

It’s always worth checking with the facility you’re planning to visit in advance as they may have their own requirements.

But let’s get into the basics of what’s expected at a professional gym facility!

gymnast leotard

Table of Contents

What do you need for gymnastics class?

The basic kit when you first start will include a leotard and shorts. Gymnastics classes are done barefoot so you won’t need to worry about any shoes. Some gyms will allow for a t-shirt to be worn instead of a leotard at beginners and recreational classes. You’ll want to avoid baggy clothing as this can get caught on apparatus and make it difficult for a coach to support you.

It’s a good idea to take off jewelry, especially watches, necklaces and large earrings. Some gymnasts take a bag to put their belongings in after they get changed but this is optional.

A drinks bottle is always a good idea so you avoid getting dehydrated.

What to wear to gymnastics besides a leotard?

A leotard is recommended because it is tight-fitting and coaches can spot your full range of movement and physically support a gymnast when needed. If you are looking to wear something besides a leotard, you will need to choose something that still has those same qualities as a leotard.

Tight-fitting crop tops are a popular choice as an alternative to a leotard but apart from that, there isn’t much to choose from. For boys, there’s not really much alternative at all! If your facility is OK with t-shirts then that’s great, if not it will probably have to be a leotard.

Can you wear a swimsuit to gymnastics?

Yes, swimsuits can be worn as they are skin-tight. As long as they are comfortable for the gymnast a swimsuit can work well.

Can you wear a ballet leotard to gymnastics?

Yes, ballet leotards can be worn for the same reason as a swimsuit. However, wearing a ballet skirt is not suitable as it can get caught on equipment. Ballet tights are not suitable either as gymnasts need to be barefoot and tights will cover the whole foot increasing the chance of slipping. But the ballet leotard with either shorts or leggings would be ideal.

Just double-check with your specific gym facility that they are OK with ballet leotards or swimsuits as each club may have its own specific requirements but generally speaking, both should be fine.

Are gymnastics leotards comfortable?

There are two main types of leotards:

  • Training leotards
  • Competition leotards

Generally, training leotards are comfortable for most gymnasts, so the good news for beginners is that you should easily find a comfy leotard. This is because training leotards are usually a bit looser and tend to be sleeveless. When a gymnast makes the team and starts competing they will need to have a leotard just for competitions. Most gym clubs will have a set design that their gymnasts have to wear. This is so clubs are easily identifiable.

Gymnasts often say that competition leotards are less comfy and this can be for a number of reasons. In competitions, judges will mark down a gymnast if their leotard is ill-fitting or they have undergarments showing so they have to be tighter. Most of the time a competition leotard will have long sleeves because they look more professional and most coaches believe that this will score better (even if it’s not officially written in a code of points).

Can you wear leggings to gymnastics?

Most gym facilities will be happy for you to wear leggings, especially at a beginner or recreational level class. They are skin tight so there’s no risk of them getting caught on anything. Because they are tight-fitting it also allows the coaches to spot when your legs are bent or straight which is very important. Leggings also allow for bare feet to show which is essential in gymnastics. Tights on the other hand are not suitable because they cover the whole foot.

A lot of gymnasts prefer to wear leggings in training as they cover more than shorts do.

Often at competitions gymnasts would not be allowed to wear leggings or shorts but at training, it’s not usually an issue.

Can you wear acrylic nails at gymnastics?

Do not wear acrylic nails to gymnastics as they can scratch a coach or other gymnasts during training. Fingernails and toenails should be kept short for the exact same reason.

For recreational gymnasts, wearing nail polish is not usually a problem however if you are going to a competition you may get deducted points. You will need to check with your coach and read the competition rules very carefully before going to a competition with nail polish.

Can you wear glasses in gymnastics?

Yes, glasses can be worn in gymnastics! Morgan Hurd is a great example of a gymnast who wears glasses even during high-level competitions like the world championships! For some gymnasts wearing contacts is not a good option due to their age. Contacts can also pick up pieces of dirt or even chalk which is used to give extra grip to the hands in gymnastics, so glasses can be a better option.

What are the best glasses to wear in gymnastics?

Glasses are often worn with a strap to keep them in place. Straps can be bought easily on Amazon and fitted onto glasses that you already own. Or there is the option to buy a new set with a replaceable lens.

It is super important that a gymnast can see properly so a good coach would never advise a gymnast with poor eyesight to take their glasses off if they need them!

Can you wear earrings in gymnastics?

Most gym facilities will have a no-earring policy but some may allow for small studs to be worn. Anything bigger than a stud could get caught on equipment or a coach when supporting. This is a rule that you should definitely check out with your specific facility as they will have their own policies.

Should you wear shoes for gymnastics?

No, shoes are not worn in gymnastics (unless you count outdoor Parkour / Free Running). The only other exception is Cheerleading which does use shoes. So if you are planning to start regular indoor gymnastics classes, you will not need shoes.

Even socks are a bad idea in gymnastics as they slip on the floor surfaces and mats.

There is such a thing as gymnastics shoes which are basically really tight-fitting slippers with grips on the sole. They are similar to socks used at Trampoline Parks but made with much more durable material. In beginners classes, not many gymnasts tend to wear gym shoes but they are more common in competitive gymnasts. They are a good idea as they are more hygenic and they still allow for a full range of motion in the foot whereas a traditional shoe has a harder sole and prevents the foot from pointing properly.

Where can I buy a leotard for gymnastics?

If you are looking for a good quality leotard that is good value for money I would recommend Amazon. There are some great brands that sell on Amazon including:

The GK Stars leotard from GK Elite is great value

The other great place to find a leotard is the gym itself! Most facilities will stock both training and competition leotards and the advantage is you can try them on before you buy. However, you will probably pay more than if you purchase online at somewhere like Amazon.

Final Thought

Gymnastics kit for beginners is really straightforward and relatively low cost which is great as tuition fees can be expensive! The main thing is that your child feels comfortable and if in doubt about anything check with your specific facility in advance. Have fun!

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