Walk into any gymnastics club or cheerleading gym and you’ll see a big spot somewhere filled to near overflowing (if they’re doing it right) with foam blocks. It will scream: “Jump!!!!! Take a running, flying leap into this big pit of foam filled fun!!!! Do Eeet!!!”
And, that’s exactly what people do.
In fact, you’ll see gymnasts and cheerleaders take running, twisting, flipping leaps into them straight off the floor or off of the other equipment native to gymnastics: uneven or horizontal bars, beams, vault tables or rings.
These athletes, male and female, are training gymnastics drills and skills or cheerleading.
Now, you might picture these small oasis of foam as rectangles, and it’s true, some of them are. Our most widely used gym pit design, however, is the classic L-shaped Pit.
The L-Shaped Pit
The L-shaped gymnastics pit is typically 18ft. x 18ft. square with a 8ft. x 16ft. leg on one corner. Hence, your L-shaped gym club pit.
The L-shaped gym pit provides two different depths and types of cushioning for training skills and drills at different stages of development.
Let’s talk about all the things you can train into an L-shaped gymnastics foam pit and why you might want different depths for beginning and advanced skill levels.
The longer leg is usually constructed deeper with our Sag Bed Pit Design. The deeper pit area is for the beginning stages of landings, drills and skill development. It contains the foam blocks that cushion imperfect landings and decelerate the forces the gymnast’s body generates.
You can run pretty much anything into it: a vault table, rings, a tumble track, a tumble strip or a spring or rod floor. You can also put a beam to practice dismounts. The Soviets were the first to use a gym pit to train and we think it’s a great idea!
The short leg of an L shaped gymnastics pit offers a variety of ways to train women’s uneven bars and men’s horizontal bar.
For space saving purposes and to allow focus on just one bar, many gym club owners use our single bar trainer positioned such that you can either land into foam in the deeper end or onto a more shallow shelf padded 8ft x 14ft x 24ft gym pit mat that serves as a transition toward the reality of a gymnastics meet: the floor.
If the deeper part of the pit is the tricycle, the shallow end would be the training wheels that get you ready for the floor’s ten speed bike.
Our single bar trainer can be adjusted to accommodate either the women’s or the men’s rail. Depending where it’s positioned and with which type of pit the single bar trainer is used, you’ll want the space saving, design convenience of our L-base and T-base foundations with a coach’s spotting deck.
Having been gymnasts, coaches and gym owners ourselves, we’ve made sure to design our gymnastics pits such that the single bar trainer is positioned far enough back from the mat on the shallow shelf so the gymnast doesn’t hit their chin on the mat while training.
The end of the short leg that faces out onto the main floor is a great place to put a full set of uneven bars. When your gymnast trains using both bars and she can dismount onto the shallow, matted shelf.
L or T-shape depends on your preference and gym space
Another configuration that offers the shallow shelf for single bar and uneven bar placement is the T-shaped gymnastics pit. The T-shaped pit provides the same advantages of the L-shaped gym pit, but offers you another choice in setting it, organically, into the landscape of your gym. Do you have support columns to work around? Do you want to place your pit in the corner? What are you training into it? Having different pit shape options allows you to configure your gymnastics pits to your space.
The Trench Bar Pit
The Trench Bar Pit facilitates a, literally, more hands on approach to skills learning between coach and gymnast.
Usually, 38 inches wide x 18 feet long x 7 feet deep, the trench bar gymnastics pit is designed deep and long, so the bar can be placed low enough that the coach can easily get close enough to manipulate the gymnast’s body through the skill, ensuring that they learn the right shapes and postures native to advanced release moves and dismounts. Using a trench bar pit means coaches don’t have to work at the distance of a spotting deck or block. Getting the gymnast and coach in closer proximity fosters a stronger, safer (for both) one-on-one working relationship that helps iron out the details integrating them into the gymnast’s muscle memory.
The narrow width and extra depth of the trench bar is designed to accommodate the gymnast’s body as it travels through the swing. Inside the pit, we use a curved mat that keeps the gymnast safe should they let go of the bar.
The curved mat also enables them to to climb out of the pit with ease.
The Rectangle Shaped Pit for Tumbling and Cheer
Some gymnastics gyms and many cheerleading gyms will have a wide rectangle shaped tumbling pit into which a number of different types of tumbling floors will spill.
For instance, you could run a rod floor, a tumble strip and a tumbling track up to different points in your large cheerleading pit. High school cheerleading teams compete with each other on carpet bonded foam floors. However, they often practice or perform at games and pep rallies on hard surface floors like their school’s basketball court. Competitive cheer teams usually compete on a spring floor like that used in gymnastics gyms. So you’ll want your cheer tumbling pit to bump up against the cheer gym floor surfaces that are relevant to your market of cheer athletes.
A cheerleading gym, gymnastics gym clubs might run their rod and spring floors up to it, a tumble track or tumble strip; as well as a trampoline to provide for a variety of drills that lead to skills. Of course, gymnastics gyms can also back their beams, rings, vaults and bars up to it, too.
Single or Multi-Purpose Pit?
To save money and gym interior real estate, many gyms and clubs place and configure their gym pits for multiple types of training. Digging code compliant holes, fitting them with trampoline beds and filling them with foam is a necessity for a gym that offers any serious training, but it isn’t cheap. Multi-tasking your pit is a must for most, but it does mean you’re going to have to be cognizant of your traffic control to avoid collisions.
For those that have the space and budget, that problem is avoided by having single purpose pits. Single purpose gymnastics pits are designed and equipped to accommodate one type of training.
For instance, a typical single purpose pit is the bar pit. It’s usually more narrow, around 8 ft. with a length that varies based on the size of your gym and how many bars you want to use with it. Or maybe, you might triple it with your more narrow pit, by running a beam, vault or tumble strip at the end.
You see, the sky’s the limit! When deciding which and how many pits you’re going to use in your gym, you’ll want to ask yourself what you want to train into it, take a look at your budget and then take a good long look at the space you’ve got and what equipment you want where based on the organic flow of your programs.
In short, traffic control!
You don’t want kids crossing the vault runway to get to the beam station. Based on the skills they do and the equipment they use, many gymnastics gyms will place their pits in the corner out of the main flow of traffic. Whereas with cheerleading gyms, tumbling floors are the main event. Cheer gyms often put their pits in the center and all roads lead to the pit!