All of the best gymnastics training happens in progressions. Progressions are where the gymnast learns elements of a target skill in steps that build up to the final, more advanced version of skill. These steps teach components of the finished, target skill such as bringing the correct body shaping into muscle memory. Or steps in a progression can entail executing that skill in a smaller, less difficult way or on an easier piece of equipment specifically for training.
Vault mat blocks are a great way to ease your would-be vaulters into learning what can be a pretty intimidating gymnastics skill. They are, after all, running full speed down a runway where they punch or round-off themselves onto a springboard that, in turn, bounces them onto a raised, hard vault table from which they must complete movements in the air such that they land safely on their feet with not so much as a bounce or step.
Spelled out, it’s not so hard to see why performing vault can be intimidating to many gymnasts and why learning it slow and easy, in baby steps, is a really good idea for your gymnasts both physically and mentally.
Enter the vault mat block system. The vault mat block system is shaped like a vault table, but made of foam cushions in segments that allow for slowly increasing its height, as the gymnast grows stronger physically and mentally.
Our Women’s Vault Table Trainer VT Block does just that. It features four 36″ wide x 43″ long blocks and will adjust in increments of 21″, 39.5″, 44.5″, 48″ and 53” to meet the needs of gymnasts at all vault skill levels. Coaches training male gymnasts use this as a base to which they attach the men’s block (sold separately).
The 21″ height allows the younger gymnast to start training round-off entry vaults. Adding the women’s block will equal 48″ and with the men’s block the total height equals 53”.
Given the inevitable pounding of gymnasts training vault, these vault block mat systems are designed to take a beating. They’re made with a high density polyurethane foam and covered in 18oz. coated fabric which makes them easy to clean with a simple wipe down.
They’re also built to be secure and to handle the forces of gymnasts bodies at speed. To that end, all sections secure with hook and loop fasteners and can be connected to the vault runway or carpet bonded foam.
As training using your vault runway involves moving your vault table back and forth, many gyms and coaches use their vault training blocks at the end of a tumbling runway that is served by their gymnastics pit. You can also attach them to your floor exercise mat to use in a variety of conditioning and training drills. (more…)
Vaulting involves more than just a vault table and a springboard. Like just about everything, there are some other essential accessories that round out your gym club vaulting station – the caboodle of the whole kit and caboodle, if you will.
Like the gymnastics vault, let’s take off down the runway.
ByGMR makes a vault runway pad designed to work in tandem with our vault runway tape measure.
Manufactured to be easy to clean and extra resilient, our runways begin with Dollamur Carpet Bonded Foam in either the standard roll-up or the flexi-roll design for easy rollout/rollup and storage. The foam is 1.25” thick for a joint friendly run that’s covered in 26oz, anti-static, plush gymnastics carpet. It measures 3’ x 84’ x 1-3/8” and comes in 9 different colors. You choose! Our most popular color is our vivid royal blue.
Of course, it helps your gymnasts to calculate the complex mechanics and timing of their vaults to mark the start position or the board position – depending on how you do things. That’s where the vault tape measure comes in. It’s 25 meters or 82 feet long – depending how you look at it. Our tape measure hooks directly to the vault runway via a sewn-in 1.5” wide hook connector. Simply roll it out and stick it to our vault runway or any vault runway, for that matter. It works with all of them.
Naturally, you wouldn’t want your gymnast running full-speed then hitting a round-off onto a naked vault board. We offer two vault safety zone mats that protect your athletes as they learn and excel at their gymnastics vaults.
Vault trampolines are, simply put, easier to use than vault springboards. Imagine it. The gymnast is pushing off of a stretchable piece of fabric attached to many springs instead of pushing off of a piece of hard board attached to a few springs.
For younger gymnasts who don’t have the strength and body weight to aid them in creating greater rebound from a vault board, the vault trampoline makes a user-friendly type of training wheels experience, as they learn the mechanics of the run-up, punch and take off needed to execute a competition vault. In short, it’s easier to get more rebound from a vault trampoline and when you’re learning to vault or learning to do more complex vaulting skills, getting that extra oomph that takes you to the vault table can make a big difference.
Bigger, older, more experienced gymnasts benefit from using a vault trampoline when learning and acclimating to new skills, as well. In fact, when any gymnast is engaging in the repetition that turns practice into perfect using a piece of equipment that requires less force is going to be less fatiguing. Taking that drain out of the body helps the athlete focus on other elements in learning a new skill such as timing, getting the right height, rotation and mentally clearing out the fear factor that is part of doing new or more advanced gymnastics skills.
Just because it looks easy when gymnasts do it in competition, doesn’t mean it was easy to get there. Not by a long shot!
Vault trampolines are predominantly used by younger gymnasts in levels 1-4 and by Xcel Optional Gymnasts (the gymnasts formerly known as Prep Optionals), though any and all gymnasts can benefit from training on a vault trampoline when working a routine over and over.
Our most popular vault trampoline is our very own ByGMR Air Lift Board. It’s affordably priced and offers a couple of special features which set it apart from the rest. For one, it’s got the sturdiest frame on the market. Most vault trampolines are just set up on legs. The Air Lift board is set on legs that are built into a heavy steel frame that goes all the way around the base of the board on the floor. For that reason, you just don’t get the wobble that you see with other boards.
The ByGMR Air Lift board also provides padding that covers both the frame and the springs. No step through! No hitting the springs. No getting stuck or tearing a foot you need to compete on two weeks. Nothing is a bigger bummer than a last minute injury when you’ve been working your tail off for months to get ready for a meet!
While it’s shaped like a vault board, and it meets FIG specs for vault board height, the Air Lift Board features a lower approach height and longer take-off zone that’s highly conducive to vault training. When you’re learning something new, it’s always good to have a little extra margin for error, as you incorporate and refine new movements.
It’s also good for your gymnasts to have highly visible
targets on their run up. The Air Lift board gives you all that in the form of thick purple padding around the outside of the frame and a bright, lime green rectangle sweet spot that leaps off of the black bed behind it. Vaulting gymnasts have a whirl of details whizzing through their heads as they pitch themselves down the runway. A vault trampoline sweet spot that pops shows them where to hit the punch making it one less thing they have to worry about in those few seconds.
Coaches and gymnastics club owners really enjoy its portability. Because it’s got wheels! So when you need to drag it across the gym, you just tilt and roll!
Spieth America’s vault trampoline does wheelies, too! It’s bright red frame padding keeps a fast-moving gymnast focused as they run at a calculated barrel toward the red cross set against the white trampoline bed. It’s a killer bet for a mini, adjustable trampoline with a total top trampoline surface of 24” x 36”.
Another vault trampoline offering with easy transport wheels is AAI’s Eurotramp Booster/Vault Trampoline. It’s approved by USAG for use in Xcel programs and also makes a great addition to rec programs, parkour training, school sports and indoor free running. It’s got a barrier free jump-in and when you need to, you can adjust the height from 26.5cm to 32cm.
AAI has another fine vault trampoline offering in its Premier Vault Trampoline. This vault tramp (to use gym vernacular) has the same profile as AAI® Vaulting Boards and is used for levels 1-4, Xcel optional athletes and team gymnastics to learn and train vaulting exercises. Adjustable rear legs let you set it to three different heights: 13″, 14″ and 15″ (33cm, 36cm & 38cm) Front can also be adjusted to lower the bed to sit on the floor. Very versatile!
Norberts Power Incline 2.0 meets USA Gymnastics vaulting trampoline specifications for JO Level 1 and 2, and XCEL Bronze, Silver and Gold Divisions. It’s unique all-in-one pad attaches to the bed with Hook and Loop fasteners and uses tabs to attach to the frame to prevent the pad and bed from separating during use.
All in all, a vault trampoline is a great piece of equipment to have around. It’s fun for the rec kids. It can expand your indoor free running and parkour offerings. Your younger gymnasts can use it to learn and compete in lower levels as they gain skill and strength. Your older gymnasts will thank you for giving them an alternative to hitting the same hard board time after time, hour after hour they spend in the gym.
Choosing the right vault board to fit the needs of your gymnastics club’s programs and their athletes can be a confounding endeavor. Ten-o.com, itself, carries 20 different boards from major manufacturers across the industry and they’re all excellent pieces of equipment.
However, they’re not created equally. Our vault board offerings vary in length and height, number and size of springs, platform covering, guide graphics and punch. Some boards are designed for younger, smaller bodies in recreational classes; while others are geared for the weight, strength and skill of older gymnasts training to compete.
We’ve written a 3 post series to help you sort through the diverse specs of our vault boards to ensure you spend your hard-earned money in the wisest way. To begin, let’s look at vault boards designed to cater to the size and capabilities of your littlest gymnasts.
These boards are: By GMR’s “Little Stars” 5 mini-spring vault board, Norberts 4 spring Performance Top Pre-school board, Spieth-America’s 3-spring “Little Thumper”, Gibson’s 3-spring “Bronco” board and AAI’s Pre-school 3-Spring vault board.
Our “Little Stars” baby board is the springiest of the bunch and perfect for pre-schoolers who weigh 50lbs. or less; and therein, don’t pack the punch necessary to get a bigger bounce from a harder board. It’s made with 5 mini-springs which are 4 3/8 inches high. The “Little Stars” board’s platform is padded in flexcell foam and covered in carpet with cute, colorful stars to capture their attention and ignite their imaginations, as they launch themselves toward their dreams of being a gymnastics star. Additionally, “Little Stars” is not as tall or as long (measuring 20” x 30”) as other pre-school program boards offering a lower crown and shorter hurdle to younger gymnasts and rec program kids. For smaller children, a springier, shorter board is more forgiving and easier to use when they lack strength, stride and weight to really punch it.
While the flight and the landing are the gutsy, glamorous parts of a gymnastics vault, the run-up is crucial. Gymnasts are judged on that, as well.
In the effort to build momentum to punch the board with enough force to take flight, gymnasts make a fast and carefully choreographed run down the runway up to the vault board which helps generate the force they use to launch themselves onto the vault table and into the air where they execute the meat of the gymnastics vault.
Learning to vault well, and safely, means fine-tuning the transition from a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other run to a two a footed punch on the board.
The hurdle is the leap from the runway to the board for that punch. Middle-sized kids need a mid-sized hurdle.
Intermediate boards usually measure 36” which means a, well, intermediate, length hurdle between that which is native to the 24” of the smaller boards and the 48” of the full-size, competition, advanced boards. They employ between 4 and 6 springs that a middle skill level and middle sized gymnasts can use easily and safely.
Intermediate boards are built for an older, heavier class of gymnast than the beginning boards. Their weight allows them to exert more force to be returned by the springs. Typically, an intermediate board features six springs, though all of our boards use springs which are removable offering you more flexibility in how you deploy the board in your gym.
Saving the best for last in our 3 part series on gymnastics vault boards are our advanced, competition boards. Built for bigger, heavier, stronger gymnasts training and competing more difficult skills, these boards bring big bounce per ounce!
In gymnastics vaulting, timing is Everything! The more recoil you have in your springs the faster the gymnast gets off the board, onto the vault table and into the air. When you’re doing more advanced vaults — your Yurchenkos, Tsukaharas or Produnovas — every millisecond counts ’til you stick that perfect landing.
All of our advanced, competition boards measure 2ft x 4ft long and are 21cm high from the ground up. Beyond that, our boards vary by the type of covering on the platform and the number of springs. More springs beget a harder board.
Some gymnasts prefer a softer board; whereas, other prefer a more firm flex and return. We carry several models from different manufacturers across the spectrum, so that you can cater to your athletes’ individual preferences.
Let’s get into the details, so that you can make the right choice for your gymnastics facility and the gymnasts you train.
AAI offers 6 different vault boards! All of which meet FIG specs for competition. The AAI 8 Spring Stratum comes covered in grey carpet with 1/2in. padding. Its springs are removable so you can fix the firmness to the needs of each athlete. The AAI 8 Spring TAC 10 LZT features the pebbly textured, basketball fabric that provides extra protection against slippage and offers a slightly thicker, more reactive padding and is one of our most popular. It also lets you remove springs to fit individual gymnast preferences for harder or softer. Both of these boards meet competition specifications set out by USAG, AAU, NCAA, FIG and NFHS.
In a busy meet or a high volume gym club, you might not want to take the time to adjust the springs. For that reason, AAI came out with their line of EVO boards that come color coded per preference from soft to medium to more firm.
Softer boards are great for younger gymnasts. They’re easier to punch, less jarring and less fatiguing when you’re hitting the board over and over trying to nail down that Yurchenko timing. Like so much in gymnastics training, evolution of skill happens in progressions. Move to the medium board once you’ve mastered the softer version and prep for the harder, faster recoil board. Or just stay there. With AAI’s EVO boards, you can have your pick of the litter!
Do you have members of your sports and recreation facility who like to test their strength and mental endurance on a sheer rock face — without falling to their death?
Georgia Tech University does. We made their bouldering mats and we can make yours, too!
Rock climbing or “Bouldering”, as it’s now called, has exploded in popularity since the late 1990’s. Climbing enthusiasts explore their passions both indoors and out. More and more we see gym clubs, fitness gyms and recreational sports centers adding climbing walls and boulders to their member fitness offerings.
There are even entire climbing gyms dedicated to the sport for those who want to climb indoors only and for those who love to boulder outside, but want a safe place to practice working out complex, technical bouldering problems with the safety of a harness and a bouldering mat beneath them — something most outdoors climbers bravely or insanely (you decide) go without.
Ballistic bouldering mats are made with what we in the biz call “ballistic nylon”.
Ballistic nylon was originally developed by the DuPont corporation for use in World War II flak jackets to protect soldiers from airborne shrapnel resulting from bullet, grenade and shell impacts. It wasn’t as effective as they had hoped and was later replaced with kevlar.
Still, it’s tough stuff. It’s now used in a host of non-combat applications from chainsaw chaps to luggage, backpacks knife sheaths, watch bands and motorcycle jackets — and now bouldering mats like the ones ByGMR made for Georgia Tech University’s Campus Rec Center.
Our bouldering mats employ a strong and durable 1,050 denier ballistic nylon to cover the top, landing surface. So, it’s tough enough to handle the rough landing of someone wearing climbing equipment.
Because we’ve made thousands of mats for gymnastics applications, we understand the importance of a soft landing and how to construct a mat that cushions a fall.
On the inside, our bouldering mats feature 12 inches of dual density foam with the bottom layer made up of our baffled, air channel foam. On one end, we use a mesh fabric covering that allows air to escape which makes the mat dynamic, as it handles the impact of a fall. Think the give and easy landing of a gym pit mat.
The top cover attaches to the sides of the cover using strong 4inch velcro strips, so it stays in place and there’s no top seam to bust out. Your mats last longer when there’s no top seam to have to hold up to impact over impact over time. If the top cover does eventually wear out, it’s easily replaceable without the expense of having to buy a whole new mat.
The sides and bottom are covered in 18 ounce coated fabric.
Another benefit that ballistic nylon as the top layer is that it’s very easy to clean.
Like gymnastics, bouldering involves a great deal of chalk. Not using vinyl allows gym owners to quickly clean chalk and dirt off the surface using a vacuum cleaner, as the weave of the ballistic nylon lets air get underneath; rather than as with vinyl, the vacuum cleaner would just suck down onto the nonporous surface.
We’ve been making landing mats for Georgia Tech for over 18 years. We started out with their 12cm landing mats, progressing to 20 cm landing mats and when they added climbing walls to their Campus Rec Center we were super excited to make their 12inch Ballistic Bouldering Mats.
The GA Tech Campus Rec Center is truly a marvel to behold. They have over 2,000 feet of climbing space that features a 39ft wall under a 100 ft ceiling. For safety reasons, you’re only allowed to free climb 13 feet up. Any higher and boulderers are required to wear a harness. Bouldering offers the trifecta of cardio, strength and intellectual challenge, as you solve bouldering problems all while supporting and hefting your own weight against the forces of gravity.