Have you recently signed your son up for boys’ gymnastics classes? If so, you’ve made a great choice- find out why I think it’s important for my boys to take part in gymnastics in this blog post. But if you don’t have a background in boys’ gymnastics yourself, you might be wondering what exactly you’ll need to buy for your son. In this handy guide, I list the essentials you will need for taking part in men’s artistic gymnastics, plus some little extras that are popular with many young gymnasts.
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It’s usually fine to wear a comfortable t-shirt and shorts or leggings/jogging bottoms for the first few weeks while you and your son decide if gymnastics is right for him; but eventually you will want to buy a leotard. While there are lots of companies to choose from when buying girls’ leotards, the choice for boys is more limited. As I mention in this blog post, boys’ leotards are cut differently to girls’ ones, so you do need to make sure that you are purchasing a boy-cut style for your son, to ensure his comfort.
The Zone have a good range of well priced leotards which are great for beginners. Slightly more expensive, Milano also make a great variety of colourful designs- as the current official partner of British Gymnastics, Milano often sell replicas of the leotards that the British team wear in international competitions- these are always very popular! Zodiac Leotards are a small company who sell their products via eBay, and they have some really funky designs for boys.
Unlike girls, boys in men’s artistic gymnastics never wear a leotard on its own. Most leotard companies will make shorts designed to colour match with the leotards they sell, so if you purchase from the same place you can be sure that the shorts and leotard will look good together. But a basic black or white will always look good with anything, like these ones from Decathlon.
Stirrups, also known as longs, are worn in boys’ gymnastics when using the men’s apparatus- the rings, parallel bars, horizontal bar and pommel. I know that my boys will also sometimes wear their longs during warm ups at the start of a training session if they’re a bit cold, and then remove them later on. We like the fit of these stirrups, but these these ones also look like a nice, well-priced alternative for a beginner.
Loops and Gloves
When they begin to learn how to swing on the metal high bar, children are attached to it by woven ‘loops’ or ‘straps,’ to prevent accidents. These are worn alongside cotton gloves, which help with the swinging movement; and also protect the wrists from the loops rubbing against them. Your child will need to be measured for loops by their coach, so don’t buy these until you are advised to do so; but when you do need to purchase a pair, we always use Gymnastic Planet – they come in a good range of different colours, as well as sizes, so your son could choose his club colours, or simply his favourite colour!
As for gloves, we always buy them from the pharmacy section of Boots. They’re just as effective as those you can buy from specialist gymnastics companies, but a fraction of the price!
Handguards/ Palm guards
Handguards are used to protect children’s hands on the high bar. Beginners will sometimes use palm guards instead, which may also be used on the rings (more advanced boys use ring guards– which are different to handguards -when using this apparatus). Again, children’s hands will need to be measured for their guards by a coach, so you don’t need to buy any before starting a gymnastics class.
Wrist bands protect the wrists when wearing hand guards, making gymnasts more comfortable using the apparatus. All About Gymnastics have a range of colours to choose from.
So now you know all the important kit for boys’ gymnastics, what about the little things which aren’t essential, but might still be nice to have? A few of mine and my sons’ favourites are listed below:
Many gyms provide communal chalk buckets for children to ‘chalk up’ their hands so they don’t slip on the apparatus; but some will request each child brings their own supply- particularly at the moment, due to COVID safety measures. Even if chalk is provided, some gymnasts still prefer to use their own. Liquid chalk has become very popular over the last year or two, and I know lots of people who’ve tried it and been really impressed. This scented one has good reviews.
It’s often quite hard to find gifts for boy gymnasts, especially clothing, but these gymnastics socks from LWleotards have an image of a male figure on them. Both of my boys insisted on wearing theirs until they had worn holes in them!
A nice bag to keep their gym kit in makes a great gift- even better if it’s personalised! This ‘evolution of gymnastics’ design is something my boys would love; or I’m a huge fan of this retro-style bag from Etsy, which can be personalised with your son’s name.
I hope this guide to useful kit for boys’ gymnastics has been helpful- if it has, please consider sharing it with others via the social media links at the top and bottom of the page!