Grips or Rips?

Subject: Rips!

Dear Coach,

My daughter has been doing gymnastics for almost 3 years. She couldn’t get her kip. She used her grips so she wouldn’t get rips or blisters. One day she tried to do her kip without the grips and did the kip very well. Now she won’t use the grips anymore. The problem is, she is getting rips all the time now. Any solutions?????

Thank You,


The Current World Bar Champions Wear Grips

It might help your daughter to know that most high level gymnasts wear grips, including 2005 World Uneven Bar Champion Nastia Liukin and 2005 World Championship Bar Silver medallist Chellsie Memmel. USA gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Chellsie Memmel were first and second at last year’s World Championships and they both wear grips.

Will Want Grips for Giants

While your daughter may not need grips for doing simple skills like doing kips, she will most likely want grips for learning and practicing skills like front and back giants and other circling skills on the bars.

Dowels Help Gymnasts Get a Grip

Dowel grips are designed with a wooden dowel positioned on the grips to help gymnasts have a better hold on the bar during circling skills and catching release moves.

Grips Help You Work Longer on Bars

As you mentioned, grips are useful for extending the amount of time you can work bars. If she wants to be able to learn high level skills, she will have to be able to work bars for long periods of time. She will either have to learn to work through the pain of rips or wear grips in order to be able to spend enough time practicing on bars to learn high level skills.

Rips before Calluses

The few high level gymnasts who do not wear grips often have to go through a period of ripping before their hands callus enough to stop ripping. Every time they take a break from gymnastics for any significant period of time, they have to go through the ripping cycle again before their hands toughen back up.

Calluses Everywhere?

All gymnasts get calluses on their hands from doing bars. Gymnasts who wear grips only get them around the edges of their grips. Gymnasts who don’t wear grips get calluses all over their hands.

Bigger Rips?

Callused hands or callused areas of the hand often rip bigger than non-callused areas. Rips often take off the whole callus when the hands rip. The callus comes off in one whole piece. Gymnasts who don’t wear grips can have this happen over their whole hand area, not just around where their grips are. So when they rip, gymnasts who don’t wear grips are likely to rip in more areas and have bigger rips in the sensitive areas of the hands that grips usually cover.

Summer/Off-Season Ideal to Get Used to Grips

Summer, the off-season, is the ideal time to get used to wearing grips as opposed to switching to grips in the middle of the competition season.

Tougher to Switch to Grips Later

As gymnasts get older and grow, they tend to switch to wearing grips because their hands rip more when they are taller and weigh more. It is easier to learn to wear grips when you are younger and at a lower level than to switch later. If your daughter thinks it is hard to get used to grips doing kips, she will really have trouble later switching to grips and getting used to them doing skills like giant pirouettes.

Done the Hard Part

Your daughter has already done the really hard part – getting used to wearing grips. It is only a very small step more to learn kips with her grips on. It is easier to learn to wear grips doing simple skills than to have to change later. It is very likely a wiser choice to get used to grips now rather than later.

Heal Rips

In the meantime, we use Melaleuca oil products to heal rips (usually in only about two to three days) and gymnasts can also put those products on their hands overnight to start to heal rips before they actually happen. If you don’t have access to Melaleuca oil products (the company is located in our town), Preparation H (yeah, we know) also works. But when using Preparation H overnight gymnasts usually will have to wear gloves because of the smell and it would not be good if a gymnast were to suck their thumb while wearing it at night.

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