“Honeyyyyyyyyyy! What’s a dowel grip? Your coach says you need ‘Dowel Grips’!”
“Gosh, mom, you don’t know? They have this new thing called Google, ya know, says Jen the kid and tech-head gymnast, who’s devices are practically, congenitally attached. Kids these days… Jen reading from her phone, “The dictionary says a dowel is, ‘a peg of wood, metal, or plastic without a distinct head, used for holding together components of a structure.’”
Jen and the dictionary bring us to an important point. Our ten-o.com grips use a strong, rubber dowel to help create a pocket in the leather into which the bar or rail fit.
See, the leather protects the skin of the gymnast’s hand against the friction of the swing or the ring as the athlete executes their skills. A gymnast’s hands take a beating with all the repetitive motion in practice and competition. The weight of the gymnasts body coupled with the forces of swinging bars or holding the rings can cause the skin to rip. Grips won’t stop that all together — rips are a right of passage in the sport — but grips do help minimize the effects and damage of the physics inherent to the sport. That’s why coaches start their beginner gymnasts, who do less advanced skills, with palm grips: to add in a layer of protection for the skin and to get them used to the feel of a layer of leather between their hand and the bar/rail, as they’ll want to add in a dowel for more advanced skills. Typically, you’ll want to transition to a dowel grip around level 4, when your young gymnast is learning that most foundational of skills: the kip.
Your child’s early palm grips could be likened to a type of training wheels where dowel grips are a ten-speed bike.
The addition of a dowel keeps a curve in the leather that forms a pocket the gymnast will use while holding onto the uneven bars, for women, or the high bar or rings, for men. Also, the dowel helps take some pressure off the fingers, as the gymnast, essentially hangs, from the dowel and their fingers.
The dowel acts like a sort of horizontal claw or 2nd thumb, if you will, that helps athletes hold onto their equipment while performing all those gravity defying, daring feats we’ve come to love as gymnastics enthusiasts.
Just as with early palm grips, you’ll want to measure the size of your gymnast’s hands before making your purchase.
Does your child have a slender hand ?Are they getting their first dowel grip? If so, you’ll want to look toward our more tapered Gecko or Pixie grips or a size 0 in our 501 Blues or Tensports. For athletes with a wider palm, checkout our Tensports which use a wider, straight piece of leather. Not sure which grips to get or how to measure? Our grips buying handbook has all the info!
Let’s talk finger holes options, now. Gymnasts working on the rings or the uneven bars usually take a two-fingered grip. For the horizontal bar (high bar), most athletes use a grip with 3 open finger holes or finger tabs.
When it comes to gymnastics gear, grips have long been our biggest seller. We make all of them in-house, here in the US, at our Lithonia, Georgia headquarters.
We use a strong and easy swing, easy to break-in, durable leather. All of our Ten-o dowel grips are hand-glued with individual attention and care; after which we double-down with a computerized, industrial, sewing machine which employs a butterfly stitch and a rectangle double-stitch for extra stability, so your child is extra secure.
From our logo to the attention to detail of sewing and glueing and colorful straps, our grips are a work of art.
Closures. Different strokes for different folks on this element of the dowel grip. Choices are velcro, double and single buckle.
Velcro is a quick on, quick off and something for kids to play with in line. Other athletes think a buckle or buckles feel more secure to them, so they take that route. That usually boils down to a matter of preference.
One thing that’s goes for all grips: never use a wire brush on the stitching!
Gymnastics is a sport that happens in clouds of chalk. Chalk provides a dry lubricant that smooths the surface promoting a fluid swing. Hitting just the right amount of chalk is another matter of preference. After or during practice, your gymnast will need to clean the chalk off their grips; a grip brush is a great tool for that… just only on the palm piece and not on the dowel stitching!
And there you have it! An advanced education in next level grips for your advancing gymnast!