Does strapping on your gymnastics grips feel like slipping into your favorite hoodie?
Do your grips give you that feeling of familiarity like laughing at inside jokes with your BFF, finishing their sentences and ordering for them at the drive-thru because you just know?
But, are they long enough that they look like the gymnastics grip equivalent of clown shoes?
Do you want to break your wrist?
Riiiight! That last part, not so much, really? Mmmm, yeah. We didn’t think so.
Unlike, a friendship, your relationship with your gymnastics grips shouldn’t continue for years and years. Unlike people, gymnastics grips need to be replaced: grips are disposable.
Gymnastics grips are worn by male gymnasts on the high bar and rings, by female gymnasts on the uneven bars.
When you first get a pair of gymnastics grips, kind of like shoes or boots, you’ll need to break them in so they fit and feel right. Once, that perfect fit hits, your grips become your best bud.
When swinging bars or or hitting iron crosses on the rings, like a best friend or a coach your grips have got your back. They’re a big factor in what keeps you holding on, allowing you to make the bold moves that make gymnastics, so breathtaking. Grips also protect your skin from that in/famous hazard of the sport: the gymnastics rip.
However, when that perfect fit stretches past its expiry date. Your gymnastics grips are no longer protecting you. They are endangering you.
Just as the perfect fit stretches to allow you to curve your leather protected hand such that the dowel is positioned to add power to your fingers and act as a horizontal claw to keeps you on the bar, the now worn and over-stretched leather can go so far that it wraps completely around the bar and catches on the grip’s wrist piece, acting like the brake shoe of a car when it locks up and skids.
You don’t want this. It can and will break your wrist. We’ve seen this more than a few times in our 38 years in the gymnastics industry. Our CEO, Mike, has seen it in his tenure as a boy’s gymnastics coach and competition judge and we have heard horror stories from coaches and parents.
As good as those well-worn grips feel, as much of a mundane pain as it is to go through the steps to buy and break-in new grips…
Please, for the sake of your health and your gymnastics: bite the bullet and do it. Retire those grips.
By the way… We’ve distilled everything you need to know about choosing, sizing, buying and breaking in your new grips in our Grips Handbook!
Another sign your grips are goners is when you see the dowel and the leather around starts to scoot out to the side, as the palm piece gets longer. This, too, is a sign things are thinning, moving out of place and at risk for catching mid-swing.
As the leather stretches longer, it thins out and offers less coverage for your palm. Therein, your hands aren’t getting that same level of protection from heat and friction, you’d be getting from newer grips that fit as they should. Retire or rip, i.e… r. i. p. your skin.
Additionally, the finger holes of retirement ready grips are stretched wider through wear and tear or swing after swing and that means your grips won’t fit your fingers properly and are less likely to stay on as they should.
A good test for the fit of your horizontal bar grips, if you’re a guy, is to measure the degree to which you can open out your hand while wearing them. If you are a male gymnast and can open you’re hand out past 160 degrees, than it’s time to retire.
If you’re a female gymnast that hand opening test goes a little further. That is to say, you won’t want to be able to open your hand any further than 170 degrees. Any closer than that one 170 and you’re going to want to give us a call and get some new grips, for your own safety.
Check to see: Is your velcro dirty, full of pit fluffies and hair? Are the straps not catching or staying like they used to? Does the smell of your gymnastics grips blow up your gym bag?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it’s time to push play on a few mournful bars of Taps, offer up a gymnastics salute in gratitude for their loyalty and service and send those grips up into that great, big, chalk cloud in the sky.