Bridging the Gap of Gymnastics Lingo
Skills, Drills, Progressions, Conditioning, & At Home Training
THE BEST OF HOME GYMNASTICS EQUIPMENT
Having equipment a home is great for helping both beginner and advanced gymnasts improve by practicing at home. Practicing at home can help your child improve by repeating routines and skills they learned in class without spending extra money or time in the gym.
There are several considerations with purchasing gymnastics equipment for home—you want to get equipment that can be used to practice a variety of skills, equipment that can grow with your gymnast as they improves, that has the right weight restrictions, and that can be stored easily.
Beam Height: Start with a beam that lays close to the ground to avoid any rolled ankles. As your gymnast gets more advanced and comfortable with the beam you can transition to a beam a few inches off the ground.
Beam Length: A traditional beam is 16 feet long. Typically beams for at home use come in much shorter lengths, however if you buy a beam that is very short it might be too short to practice some skills. There are some practice beams can be attached together to make one longer beam.
Material: Traditional competition beams are covered in leather or suede but beams for home practice can be purchased in many different materials.
Storage: Some practice beams fold up, others don’t, please be mindful of your space before purchasing.
BALANCE BEAMS AT HOME
Tumbl Trak Sectional Beam: Tumbl Trak makes a 4 foot long sectional beam that rests on the floor. You can either just buy one unit or you can buy multiple and they easily connect with Velcro at the ends. So, you can buy three of these and connect them to make a 12 foot long floor beam. This is convenient because you can disconnect them for easy storage. It’s the same 4″ width as competitive beams, and is made of similar suede material.
The Beam Store Suede Beam: This practice beam is 2 inches above the ground and the standard beam width of 4 inches. It has a padded top, and is made of suede to give it the look and feel of a competition beam. Great for beginner or advanced gymnasts that want a beam slightly raised off the floor. Since this beam is slightly raised off the floor, it’s helpful when a gymnast is practicing because she realizes when she “falls” off the beam. But, it’s still close enough to the ground to be safe for home use. This beam comes 8 feet long in either tan, pink or purple.
The Beam Store Gymnastics Folding Training Beam: The Beam Store’s Folding Training Beam is another option for a home use beam. This beam is a great option if you have limited space and need something that folds up when it’s not in use. It’s 4 inches wide at the top-which is standard balance beam width and covered in suede like standard balance beams. When it unfolds it’s u feet long.
Sticky Beam Strips: If you don’t want an actual beam in your house, then sticky beam strips might be for you. These are 8 foot long, 4 inches wide Velcro strips that can be stuck to the floor to simulate a beam.
Thickness: The mat is too thin it won’t provide enough cushion and protection if the gymnast falls. If the mat is too thick it will be harder to do skills on because the gymnast will sink into the mat.
Dimensions: You want a mat that is big enough for the gymnast to practice skills on, but won’t be too big for where it’s being stored.
Storage:Does the mat fold? If not, do you have a good place to store it.
MATS AT HOME
Norberts’ Panel Mats: Norbert’s makes heart and flower print panel mats that are great mats for home use. They come in several different colors and designs. They come in the most popular size-4 feet by 8 feet and can be easily folded. They have Velcro on the ends in case you want to buy more than one and link them together. They are the standard panel mat thickness of 1-3/8”. These are good quality mats and they make great gifts because of their cute design.
Tumbl Trak Folding Mat: Like the Norberts panel mat, this Tumbl Trak folding mat comes in many different color combinations. It comes in the most popular size- 4 feet by 8 feet and can be easily folded. It comes in standard panel mat thickness of 1-3/8″, but also comes in a 2″ thick version.
Tumbl Trak Cartwheel Beam Mat: A cartwheel training mat is a good option for a young gymnast (2-5 years old). The hand and feet placements help gymnasts learn a cartwheel. It can help teach or perfect a cartwheel. It can also double as a mat to practice rolls and handstands on. The other side of this cartwheel training mat has a line the width of a beam on it, and can be used to practice balance, and skills that you would do on beam. However, it’s a little flimsy to use for more advanced skills.
Tumbl Trak Handstand Homework Mat: I love this handstand homework mat because it makes practicing handstands against the wall much easier and more comfortable. Handstands are such a great exercise for both beginner and advanced gymnasts to practice at home. Doing them against the wall with this mat helps your gymnast make sure she is practicing with perfect form. This homework mat is designed to easily attach to any door, but can also be taken off the wall and used on the ground for practice.
Cartwheel Block: I love this cartwheel block for teaching beginner gymnasts how to do a cartwheel. This makes it easy for little ones to do a cartwheel without assistance. They simply stand, put their hands on the block on the hand-prints, and kick their feet around to the other side. Having their hands elevated makes it much easier to do. You can also buy other velcro strips to put on top of the block to teach other skills.
Stability: You want to make sure the bar you buy for your house is stable. You want to make sure it won’t fall over or shake when your gymnast is using it.
Weight Limit: You definitely don’t want a bar that isn’t strong enough to hold your gymnast.
Matting Requirements: Different bars have different matting requirements to be safe.
Height: It needs to be tall enough that your gymnast can use it, while still being able to be stored in your house.
Assembly: Some bars are much more difficult to put together, or require extra plywood or leg supports.
Max Skill Level: Some home bars are only stable enough for low-level skills, whereas others can support high-level skills are are better able to grow with your gymnast.
BARS AT HOME
Norbert’s Original Mini Bar: Norbert’s makes a great beginner home use bar. It can be set from 38 inches (about 3 feet) to 58 inches (about 5 feet) tall. It’s sturdy (made with strong steel tubing) and can be used with a mini bar mat underneath. It has a weight limit of 100 lbs. However it is only recommended for gymnasts through level 3; it is not designed to be used for kips or big swings.
Tumbl Trak Junior Pro Bar: The Tumbl Trak Junior Pro Bar is a very sturdy bar, but unlike other bars like it, does not need to be stabilized with additional plywood or supports. It can be set from 38″ (about 3 feet) to 59″ (about 5 feet) tall, with a weight limit of 125 lbs. This bar is safe for all levels and can be used to practice kips and casts. It takes up a 4 foot by 6 foot space on the floor. It needs a 4’x6′ mat that is 4″ to 6″ thick, due to the thick center support bar. This mat will work, or something of similar size.
Nastia Liukin Floor Training Rail: This Nastia Liukin floor training bar is great for more advanced gymnasts. It’s made of durable fiberglass. Use it for practicing handstands at home.
Pull-Up Bar: If you have a more advanced gymnast, you might want to think about getting a Pull-Up bar. A Pull-Up bar is inexpensive and can be installed right in a doorway at home. It’s great for building upper body strength which helps gymnasts excel on the Uneven Bars. It can also be used to build core strength by doing leg raises– hanging from the bar and lifting the lower body.
Fitness Ball: A fitness ball is a great tool to use for building core strength. Use it instead of a chair as your gymnast does homework. Or use it to do sit-ups and other ab exercises. The link is to buy it at DGS, but you can also get it on Amazon.
EZ Move Sliders: Tammy Biggs, an amazing Elite-level gymnastics coach, recommends using these sliders in several drills and conditioning exercises.
Thera-Band Exercise Band: Tammy Biggs recommends using Thera-Bands for core strength. You can also buy them on Amazon.
Hand Glove Weights: Tammy Biggs recommends doing a dance through where you just do the arm movements of your floor and beam routine using these hand glove weights. She says in It that practicing while using these hand glove weights will help to make your arm movements intentional throughout the dance portions of your routines.