What Do Gymnasts Wear?

Gymnast girls sitting on trampoline
young gymnasts in leotards (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Gymnastics requires movements on various pieces of equipment such as the pummel horse, parallel bars, rings and high bar. To do these movements with maximum ease and safety in mind, gymnasts must wear the proper clothes. While what you wear varies with training and competitions, wearing the right clothing will allow for full range of motion, decrease the risk of injury and help coaches and judges see your body in action.

Leotards or Singlets

Gymnasts usually use leotards or singlets. Leotards can be short-sleeved or long-sleeved and cut at the groin area much like a bikini. If you don’t like this cut, you can opt for a singlet, a leotard that is cut in the shape of shorts at the bottom instead of a bikini. Many gymnasts wear these in training, with or without tight-fitting shorts over top. However, gymnasts are required to wear leotards or singlets in competition. Ensure that your leotard or singlet doesn’t have any hanging adornments, such as frills, straps and strings because these can get caught and increase your risk of falling.

Shorts

While shorts aren’t allowed in competition, you can wear them while training. Pair these shorts with a leotard or a T-shirt. Don’t wear shorts that have pockets, strings, buttons, snaps or zippers. These can get in your way when performing movements and cause injury. In addition, shorts should be tight-fitting so they don't get in the way of your movements, but loose enough for optimum comfort and to avoid restricting your movement.

T-shirts

T-shirts and a pair of shorts or pants are usually the most comfortable outfit for male gymnasts in class. Like shorts, T-shirts are not allowed in competition and must not have any adornments such as strings, pockets, snaps or buttons. T-shirts must be loose enough so that they provide maximum comfort and don’t restrict your range of movement; however, they must also be tight enough so they don't get in the way and cause injury. Your T-shirt must be tucked into your shorts or pants.

Pants

Gymnasts wear long gymnastics pants during competition and training. However, for competitions, you must accompany pants with a leotard or singlet instead of a T-shirt. While they provide more coverage, pants still allow the judges and your coach to see your body line when performing your routine. Pants are usually chosen if you’re performing routines on the pummel horse, rings, high bar or parallel bars as the extra layer can protect your skin from chafing.

Slippers

While most gymnasts prefer performing or practicing barefoot, some opt for slippers. This special footwear is permitted in competition and training, and prevents the gymnast from slipping or falling when running or when using the beam. Slippers should have nonslip soles, be in good condition and fit your feet well.

Underwear

Most gymnasts don’t wear underwear when wearing a leotard because these outfits act much like a bathing suit does. However, if you’re wearing a leotard, you can still wear underwear. If you are female, this underwear should be skin-colored and cut just like a leotard so that panty lines don't show. If you are male, the underwear should be tight fitting. You can also wear bras under your leotard or singlet as long as it isn't visible, including the straps. You can wear any underwear of your choosing in training.

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