Choosing the Right Grips for You

Posted by Angel Brown on


Getting your first pair of grips is an exciting right of passage for gymnasts, and if you’re new to grips, having so many options can seem overwhelming.  Believe it or not, there’s a science behind choosing the right pair of grips.  US Glove, and your coaches, can help!

First, you need to determine which type of grip to use:

  • Beginner Grip —A beginner grip, or palm protector, is typically for levels 3 or below. It’s a unisex guard that secures with either velcro or a buckle wrist closure. The finger holes of the grips fit at the base of your fingers, with the majority of the leather covering your palm. They create a barrier between your palms and the bar while preventing blisters and rips. Beginner grips are a great way to get used to the feeling of having a grip between your hands and the bar or rings.
  • Dowel Grip—These types of grips are not unisex.  Uneven bar grips are designed for women and have two finger holes, and men use two different styles of grips - one for the high bar, and one for rings. They are also used for higher-level gymnasts who practice more complex skills that make it harder to hold onto the bars or rings.  Coaches typically want gymnasts to start using dowel grips around Level 4.

Dowel grips come in many different styles and selecting one can be downright challenging. Your coach can help you select what is best for you, but here are some basic facts about the makeup of grips to help you get started:

  • Palm piece- The palm piece of the grip comes in different widths and cuts.  There is a narrow style, a medium width curved style, and a wide straight style.  The more narrow the palm piece, the more of the bar you’ll feel on your hand, and the more quickly the grips will break-in. Very young gymnasts or gymnasts with very tiny, narrow hands should typically avoid using a straight wide palm piece.
  • Closure- The piece that goes around your wrist -- or the cuff of the grip -- can attach using either buckles or velcro.  Grips are available in Double Buckle, Single Buckle, and Velcro (also called Hook and Loop) designs.  Buckle closures typically last longer than Velcro and stay more secure during use. Velcro,  however, is convenient, quick and easy to put on, and easy to adjust during training.  Double Buckle is the most secure closure design for a more customizable fit, however takes the longest to put on and can be difficult for young, first-time grip wearers.
  • Leather-  The palm piece of the grip can come in different types and thicknesses of leather. Younger gymnasts and compulsory level gymnasts will benefit from a thinner leather that is easier to break in, while higher level gymnasts who practice a substantial amount of time each week may benefit from a thicker leather that will last longer. Regardless of your size or level, you need to be able to comfortably hold onto the bar.
  • Event-  Dowel grips come in styles specific to each event.  Uneven bar grips are typically for women, and there are specific grips for men for high bar and rings.  The styles of grips are not interchangeable and are designed specifically for each type of equipment.  Male gymnasts will need two different pairs of grips - one for high bar, and another for rings.  High bar grips have a three-finger design with a thin dowel piece, and ring grips have a two-finger design with a thick dowel piece.  It is not safe to wear your ring grips on the high bar or vice versa.  Sizing can also vary depending on style, so your size for a pair of high bar grips and your size for a pair of ring grips may not be the same.

Once you decide which type of grips you need, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Always refer to the sizing chart.  Even if you have purchased grips before, there is a chance that you may now need a different size.
  • Your new grips should be snug and seem almost a little too small in the beginning.  You should not be able to fully straighten your hand with your grips on.  As you break in and wear your grips, the leather will stretch, thin, and form to the shape of your hand.  For your safety, you should never wear grips that are too big. 
  • Check out our Sizing Video and Instructions for more information.
  • Once you get your new grips, you will need to know how to break them in and how to care for them.  Check out our FAQs page for some tips and stay tuned to our Blog for more posts!


Still need help with selecting a style or size?  We are always happy to help!  Email or call us at (505) 856-7750.

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