Posted by Angel Brown on

In a sport where every twist, turn, and flip demands absolute precision and control, the equipment a gymnast chooses can be the difference between a stellar performance and a potential mishap. Yet, one crucial aspect often goes overlooked: the necessity of a backup pair of grips. 


If you’ve spent enough time around gymnasts and coaches — and we bet you have by now — this won’t be your first time hearing about backup grips. In fact, some coaches even require them. After years of coaching, I’ve found that the best way to ensure my athletes always have usable grips is to use two pairs simultaneously, which also maximizes the life of their equipment. 

But having a backup pair that sits unused for months or years isn’t going to do you any good — in fact, you’d actually be putting yourself at risk. Over time, the leather in gymnastics grips dries. We need the oils from our skin to keep them soft and in optimal working condition. That’s why if you take a break from your grips for a while, you may notice that they’ve become brittle and stiff, and it takes some time to break them in again. When the leather dries out like this, it is more likely to tear or crack, which is an unsafe situation for anyone. 

There’s a practical side to it, too. Athletes — especially young athletes — are forgetful. We all know a friend or teammate who has forgotten or lost their grips before a meet. Maybe it’s even happened to you. Most gymnasts will panic, worry, or end up late to a competition trying to retrieve their grips. Some will even have to scratch bars if they can’t find a suitable pair. If you have two pairs in rotation and keep separate grip bags, you can almost guarantee you’ll never find yourself without a broken-in pair.

Think of it like a pair of shoes. If you wear the same pair every single day, your shoes will wear out quickly. A rainy day? No shoes for you tomorrow. And if you wear a hole through their sole, well, then you’re just out of luck. Runners cycle their shoes the same way gymnasts should cycle grips, and they understand the importance of gradually breaking in new equipment. No runner is going to lace up brand-new shoes on the morning of a marathon. By having two or more pairs at their disposal, runners’ shoes will last longer and they’ll always have at least one pair at the ready.

If you are a high-level gymnast spending considerable time on the uneven bars, a second pair to alternate between at practice is a necessity. If this is your first pair of grips, chances are that you may not need a second pair right away, but it never hurts to start good habits that will last the rest of your gymnastics career.

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