Twisting…. and turning… turning and twisting… No, we don’t mean your gymnasts. We’re talking about the tightening knobs on just about every piece of gymnastics equipment in your gym or gymnastics club: the parallel bars, some ring frames, your balance beam, high bar, vault table and your uneven bars all adjust using a spinlock.
The spinlock or spin lock, we’ve seen it spelled both ways, spins almost as much as your athletes do and on a daily basis! Just like with your gymnasts, coaches need to take care to ensure that your spinlocks don’t wear out!
So, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of tightening your spinlocks (sorry, we had to!) and lengthening the life of your equipment.
Lock and Load!
The gymnastics spin lock consists of a handle, a hex bolt and a nut. They’re made of steel. Too much cranking, technically speaking ” torque”, of steel on steel can strip the threads on your bolt. Stripping the threads on your spin lock’s bolt means a shorter lifespan and quicker, more frequent replacement costs.
Varying pieces of gymnastics equipment require spinlocks with different handle sizes. When it comes to spinlock handles: size does matter! The length of gymnastics spin lock handle enables you to tighten your equipment more securely, but a longer handle also permits you to over tighten.
A smaller handle is easier to spin and it allows for a smaller cable footprint for your uneven bars and that means saving space in your gym!
As any coach knows, turning spin locks is just a fact of life in a gymnastics gym. Each athlete depending on height and skill level requires a different setting on the piece of training equipment they are using. Some coaches think that if they torque the spin lock down as tight as they can get it, it will last the whole workout. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
In fact, over-tightening only acts to compress the threads on your bolt which dulls them and shortens the space between them; thus stripping the bolt. Stripping the bolt on your spin lock will reduce the tightness of its grip. A loose spin lock bolt can create a dangerous situation and a liability issue. That’s why gymnastics gym owners and coaches want to take extra care to protect the life of their spin locks.
Basically, you want to tighten to the right, so that it’s snug. You don’t need to put your whole weight into it. You don’t want it to come loose, but you don’t want to jam it.
Really, the bolt will only go in so far — as far as it’s length. So, you’re not getting the bolt in farther by making it tighter.
Care and Maintenance of Your Gymnastics Equipment Spinlocks
Spinlocks should be oiled at least once a month, or sooner, if you notice they need it. Chalk use also being a fact of life in gymnastics training means you may need to oil more often, as chalk tends to gum up the works. A drop or two of 3 in 1 oil is all you need. A little lubrication will keep your spin locks spinning with ease and will prolong the life of your bolts!
Replacing Your Spinlocks: Tools of the Trade!
GMR and AAI spin lock nuts are 1-1/8 inch. Spieth America is one inch. To replace your spin lock, you’ll need an open end wrench that accommodates the size of your hex nut. Lots of gyms might not have open end wrenches that are specific to one size or another.
Also, many gymnastics clubs and gyms carry equipment from different vendors, so probably the most crucial, versatile tool a gymnastics training facility can keep on hand is the adjustable wrench with wide jaw capacity.
To remove and replace your spin lock, you simply place the adjustable wrench on the hex nut, adjust the jaw to the appropriate width and turn it to the left until the nut is loose enough to remove and replace your spinlock.