Why do Gymnasts use Grips? (answered)

Gymnasts perform different moves and routines on various equipment, such as uneven bars, rings, and high bars all of which can cause blisters, tears and major discomfort to the hands. One of the essential pieces of kit found in any gym bag are grips which are designed to reduce the pain and injury to gymnasts. In this article, we’ll explain the purpose of grips and the history behind them.

Let’s get into this!

Table of Contents

What Are Grips Made Of?

Grips are handguards made of leather that cover the palm of a gymnast’s hand. They have holes that fit over the fingers and a strap that wraps around the wrist. The leather used in grips is durable, and the finger holes are designed to give the gymnast a better grip on the apparatus.

When Were Gymnastics Grips Invented?

Grips were invented in the 1960s by a gymnast named Dowell Johnson. He wanted to create a piece of equipment that would protect gymnasts’ hands and provide better grip while performing on the uneven bars. Johnson’s invention was a success and is now used by gymnasts all over the world.

How Do Grips Help Gymnasts?

Grips provide several benefits to gymnasts. First, they prevent blisters and calluses that can be caused by repetitive use of the hands on the bars. The friction between the bar and the skin can’t be avoided as gymnasts swing around the bars which would be impossible unless the hands and wrists moved around the bar as well.

Second, grips provide a better grip on the apparatus, reducing the chances of slipping or losing control during a routine. Finally, grips offer added support to the wrist, which is essential in gymnastics, especially during high-impact releases and catches.

As well as uneven bars which are competed by female artistic gymnasts, grips are also worn by male artistic gymnasts on the high bar, rings and parallel bars.

Types of Grips for Gymnasts

There are slightly different types of grip for male and female gymnasts.

For female gymnasts, there are Dowel grips and non-Dowel grips. The Dowel is a small rod that goes across the fingers and provides more grip for advanced gymnasts doing giants and other harder skills.

Younger female gymnasts won’t need this and usually use non-Dowel grips.

There are also variations in the thickness of the leather with older more advanced gymnasts needing thicker grips compared to the younger less experienced gymnasts.

When Should a Gymnast Get Grips?

Grips are usually introduced when a competitive gymnast reaches level 4 or 5 in the USA Gymnastics program. However, this can vary depending on the gym and the coach.

Gymnasts should get grips when they start performing more complex moves on the bars that require a better grip and more wrist support. Swings tend to be one of the first skills that starts to cause blisters or calluses on the hands and this is often a good point to invest in grips. Chalk is used to reduce the friction and sweat that builds up on a gymnast’s skin but chalk alone will not reduce the discomfort to the hands when practicing a lot of swings.

Before getting grips, it’s essential to consult with a coach to ensure that the gymnast is ready to use them. Recreational-level gymnasts tend not to use grips as they are not performing as many repetitions or advanced-level skills.

Not all gymnasts like wearing grips as they can be uncomfortable and some gymnasts prefer the feel of the bar without them. It is a matter of personal choice and there are no rules stating that they can or can’t be worn unless a specific club or coach makes that a policy in their training sessions.

There are several popular brands of gymnastics grips available in the market. Some of the most popular ones are:

Each brand offers grips in different sizes and styles, and it’s essential to find the one that fits the gymnast’s hand comfortably.

One of the best places online to find a wide range of grips is www.gymsupply.com


In conclusion, grips are an essential piece of equipment for gymnasts. They protect the hands, provide a better grip on the apparatus, and offer added wrist support. The invention of grips has revolutionized the sport of gymnastics and has helped gymnasts perform more complex moves safely. When considering getting grips, it’s crucial to consult with a coach or trainer to ensure that the gymnast is ready.

There are several popular brands of grips available, and it’s essential to find the one that fits comfortably.