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Balance Beam Matters


When kids are teetering around on a 4 inch wide surface raised 4-ish feet off the floor and then they start turning cartwheels, aerials and backflips on it, ya really ought to put a mat underneath it. Ya know, just in case.

In fact, if you run a gym club you really want to put a mat on either side of your beams which are ideally spaced six feet apart. Some gymnastics gyms space their beams 4 feet apart. We don’t recommend that. Think about it. If you think about the length of the gymnasts as they’re leaping and gymnastics-ing, ehhhh, 4 feet just isn’t a safe enough margin for little noggins not to go knockin’ on the beam or the gymnast next door.

You also want to position a mat at the end of each beam. Additionally, you want to pad the upright legs, as well as cover the part of the leg that’s on the floor.

The goal is to create one big safe landing space under, at the end and to the sides of the beam for when doing skills on that 4 inch wide space doesn’t go as hoped, every time, because we all know it won’t.

Why pad the balance beam legs?

In Mike’s time as a coach, he’s seen girls fall on beam in all kinds of ways. Girls can slip at the end of the beam and hit one of the legs. They can lose their balance and end up splitting the beam or one legs slips and hits the beam upright underneath. Sometimes, you’ll get a gymnast who misses a dismount and lands short or bounces forward and hits a beam upright. You want to be sure your kids are hitting padded metal and not just straight metal. Your kids will thank you, your parents will thank you, your insurance will thank you.

In your average gymnastics club or gym training setting you’ll want to use our 6ft x 15.5ft x 4.75in. thick beam landing mats for under your beams.

Gymnastics balance beams are 16.5 feet long. Did you know that? A lot of folks don’t know that!

At the end of each beam, you’ll want your dismount mats to be at least 6ft x 12ft x 4.75in. landing mats. Yes, gymnasts can fly, but what goes up? Must come down!

In an official competition setting, USA Gymnastics requires a minimum of two 7.5ft x 15.5ft x 4.75in. mats under the beam and one 7.5ft x 18ft on one end and 7.5ft x 12ft on the other end. The 7.5ft x 18ft dismount mat is unlikely to be a mat most gym clubs would have on hand. This is not a gymnastics mat they would have space for in their regular day-to-day training activities.

In a competition setting, you’re going to have your beams arranged differently, so you’ll want to use our 8ft x 15.5ft x 4.75in. under beam mats where you would have 2 of these positioned side by side, meeting under the beam. If you’re doing a club competition, you can probably use your 6ft x 15.5ft x 4.75in mats, but we do recommend you use a wider mat which allows more margin for human error.

If you’re little girl is lucky and she’s got a competition balance beam for home training, she’s still going to need to play it safe. You’ll want that 6ft x 15.5ft x 4.75in. under beam mat, plus padding for the uprights and at least one 6ft x 12 ft x 4.75in. landing mat at the end where she’ll be doing her dismounts plus some throw mats or skill cushions.

Beneath all the beauty and grace of the gymnastics beam lies a whole lotta padding.


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