What to Wear to Gymnastics? (guide)

As your child embarks on their gymnastics journey, it’s important to ensure they have the right attire for comfort, safety, and ease of movement. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with valuable tips and recommendations on selecting what to wear to gymnastics, from leotards and shorts to scrunchies and accessories.

Get ready to dress your budding gymnasts for success and make their gymnastics experience even more enjoyable.

Let’s get started!

gymnast leotard

Table of Contents

What do Toddlers Wear to Gymnastics?

Most toddlers wear either a leotard or a unitard to gymnastics. Unitards are a one-piece garment that combines the leotard and shorts together. Girls with long hair tie it up in a pony tail or bun so that it doesn’t cover their eyes or get caught on the equipment.

Boys at this age usually wear a t-shirt and shorts but it is possible to wear a male leotard as a toddler if desired.

All gymnasts, including toddlers, practice gymnastics barefoot.

what to wear to gymnastics guide

What to Wear to First Gymnastics Class?

If your child is aged 5 to 10 when they first start gymnastics, they will usually be expected to wear a leotard. Some older girls prefer to wear shorts over the leotard as they provide more coverage. Unitards are less common with older gymnasts compared to toddlers.

Gymnastics classes are done barefoot at all ages so you won’t need to worry about any shoes. There are specialist gymnastics shoes available to buy online but these tend to be worn by competitive gymnasts, not those at their first class.

Jewelry, watches, necklaces and earrings must be removed as they can easily get damaged or worse still get caught on the equipment. Some gyms allow for stud earrings to be kept in so it’s worth checking this point with the facility beforehand. This can be an issue if a gymnast has only recently had their ears pierced and has been told not to remove them.

Some gyms will allow for a t-shirt to be worn instead of a leotard at beginner 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.

Boys are usually less pressured to wear leotards at beginner classes and they would be expected to wear a not-too-baggy t-shirt and shorts.

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.

A Biketard (also called unitard) is a good alternative option to a leotard as it can be more comfortable, especially for younger children. It has the leotard and shorts all in one garment so it provides more leg coverage and tends not to ride up so much. Check out my top picks for Biketards.


The GK Cheetah Biketard pictured above is great value at around $17 on Amazon.

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 and made from a similar material to gymnastics leotards, though they end to be slightly thinner. 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?

At first, leotards can be uncomfortable as they take getting used to. The most common issue is when a leotard rides up the leg – no one likes a wedgie!

There are also differences in fit and style from brand to brand. Generally speaking, the more established brands provide the best quality in these areas but there is also an element of personal choice. So if your gymnast is comfortable with a particular brand, I would recommend sticking with them.

Some of the best-known gymnastic leotard brands include:

There are plenty more that have been reviewed in this article here.

    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. Some competition leotards 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.

    destira leotard and shorts set

    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, gymnastics is practiced barefoot. Find out why here. 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 beginner 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:

    You can also buy gymnastics leotards online from well-known brands such as Destira or Obersee.

    The GK Stars leotard from GK Elite is great value

    The other great place to find a leotard is the Pro Shop at 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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