Hand Grips

Practice even longer by using gymnastics grips.

Introduction to Gymnastics Hand Grips

If you have ever watched Olympic gymnastics you may have noticed that the gymnasts wear special grips on their hands. These grips are used to enhance the gymnast’s grip and to reduce (but not eliminate) the friction that can cause painful blisters and rips, in which outer layers of skin separate and tear away from the hand.

Hand grips are generally made of leather, have a joining wrist strap, and use either a buckle or velcro to lock in place. The grips that are best suited for use on traveling rings contain a dowel which creates a bump on the outer side of the grip that in turn gives the user more leverage and reduces stress on the hands.

Which Grips are best suited for Traveling Rings?

The general consensus among ringers is that the highest quality grips are manufactured by Reisport of Switzerland. The following models are the safest and best to use on the traveling rings:

Reisport Men’s Ring Grips (#R506)

These grips are specifically made for still rings however they work well on the traveling rings. They have two holes for your middle and ring fingers. Most ringers prefer these, perhaps since the grip used during the still rings event essentially the same as the grip used on traveling rings.

Overall these grips work the best on the traveling rings due to the large dowel.

Reisport Men’s Elite Protec Ring Grips (#R532)

Essentially the same as the regular ring grips however they are actually two pieces of leather with a thin piece of kevlar sewn between. This makes them much stronger and over time they only stretch 1% as opposed to about 4% with the regular grips. These are great if they fit your hands properly. It is also a matter of preference where some ringers prefer to get the regular grips in a size smaller and allow the grips to stretch over time to form to the hand – these grips won’t do that. These should last for several years.

Reisport Women’s Uneven Bar Grips (#GR-35100)

The uneven bar grips are made specifically for female hands. These grips feature two holes but have a smaller dowel than the men’s ring grips. Note: The sizing is different than the men’s grips so please check this PDF ladies grip size chart.

Reisport High Bar Grips (#R507)

These have three holes instead of two. Some ringers prefer these grips since they are wider (thus offering more coverage) and have a smaller dowel than the ring grips. A smaller dowel allows you to use your fingers more to hang from the ring, which provides more security and finesse in certain circumstances.

Which size should I get?

You want to get a proper fitting hand grip otherwise it won’t work and might even give you worse tears and rips than you had going barehanded. Reisport Men’s ring grips come according to the following sizes:

X-Small – size 0 – Up to 6 ½”
Small – size 1 – 6 ½” – 7”
Medium – size 2 – 7” – 7 ½”
Large – size 3 – 7 ½” – 8”
X-Large – size 4 – 8” – and Up

What types of Accessories are Needed to use the Grips?

It would be wise to use some type of wrist protector in conjunction with your hand grips. Usually this is a simple cotton wristband, however some ringers prefer more protection and thus use thicker neoprene wristbands or double-length knitted bands.

It may also be wise to wear a glove under your grips. Cycling or weight lifting gloves work well. Some ringers even wear a cotton band or cut sock across their palm to provide cushioning between their hand and the leather grip. You can wear a combination of all of these to provide the ultimate support. Say goodbye to ripped hands!

Chalk is very important! Always use it before each and every run on the traveling rings. Put a liberal amount of chalk on the outside of your grips for better friction. You can buy chalk (magnesium carbonate) at most gymnastics supply stores as well as rock climbing supply stores (Eastern Mountain Sports, REI, etc.). The blocks are much preferable to the powder form or the sacks full of fine powder; don’t waste your time with these and go straight for the block. And remember to try not to break it!

Where can I buy my grips?

Most gymnastics supply stores should sell Reisport handgrips. The easiest method is to order them online from the following companies:

Frank Endo Company (Gardena, California) – www.frankendo.com
Gibson Athletic (Colorado) – www.gibsonathletic.com

*TravelingRings.org recommends ordering from Frank Endo since the prices for grips are about 10% lower than the competitors.

Now that I have grips how do I care for them

Congratulations on your purchase. Your hands will thank you later.

The first thing you want to do is properly break in your grips. You can break in your gymnastics hand grips by rolling them gently down toward the wrist strap in both directions. Be careful not to crease the leather as it may compromise the integrity of it. You also break them in by using them to hang from rings or a bar. Do not attempt any high swinging with brand new grips.

Next If the holes are too small (such that they don’t reach your first knuckle) then it may be necessary to use a cylindrical stick (e.g. a pencil) covered in sandpaper to gently rub the leather and widen the holes. Do not try to use scissors or any sharp item to widen the holes.

Never let water touch your grips!

Store your grips in a separate bag to prevent moisture from getting on them and also to prevent excess chalk from getting on the rest of your equipment.

About once every two week use a soft wire brush to gently rub on the outside of your grips to roughen them and remove excess chalk. You can buy a wire brush specifically for gymnastics grips from a gym supply store or something comparable from a hardware store. Try not to brush the stitching where the dowel is. Remember, don’t brush too hard or you might compromise the quality of the leather.

When should I buy new grips?

If your grips snap then obviously it’s time for new ones… but we don’t want to get to that point. It is wise to have two pairs of broken-in grips at all times. Grips can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years depending on how frequently they are used.

Enjoy your swing!