WAG 4 inch or 8 inch air track?

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Dad1234

Proud Parent
May 12, 2018
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I am looking to purchase an air track for my daughter. She is training xcel gold. Would you purchase a 4 inch or 8 inch one? Please no comments about practicing at home. I would rather her do back handsprings and aerials on a air track instead of my carpet floors or in my yard. Thanks.
 

Aussie_coach

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Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
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I know it’s not what you want to hear but she would probably be much better off doing them on carpet or the backyard than on an air track.

I’d recommend getting a foot quality regular mat instead.

Air tracks tend to make their gymnastics worse, and can develop bad habits that make it impossible to progress further. The technique fir doing skills on an air track is slightly different to floor. Lots of practice on an air track causes them to develop poor technique, which will become well practiced and impossible to break.

The air track also has an unpredictable bounce, the kids will hit the wrong spot and go flying off the ends, this wouldn’t happen on a regular mat. To be safer it would need to have a thick crash mat at the end and be surrounded by several meters of mat in each direction.

They are also not terribly robust and easily get holes, which are very difficult to properly patch.
 

Oopski

Proud Parent
May 25, 2012
475
Texas
I’d save your money and not bother honestly, ours collects dust outside when it’s not being used as a slip and slide ;). I don’t think the thickness makes much of a difference if you are getting one.

That being said I’m curious about the technique concerns with air tracks?? Our girls tumble almost exclusively on air tracks (and tumble trak) at our gym in the summer/offseason to save their ankles. We have really long 8 and 4 inch ones. They never seem to have issues transitioning to the regular floor when it gets closer to competition time.
 

kendo348

Proud Parent
Aug 5, 2019
165
We have a 4 inch and have never wished for the 8 inch. It has been fully functional both for tumbling, conditioning and as a slip n slide :) My daughter rarely uses it anymore but after 13 weeks using it at home during the shutdown, her coach said her tumbling was actually better when she got back in the gym than it was before. I’m sure coaches do speak from experience when they say air tracks can mess with technique, but that was not our experience so I don’t think it has to be a given. I place strict limits on what she can do and require warming up first. How firm or soft you make it will impact how close it is to a spring floor, and chances your gymnast will land on the edge and get hurt will be heavily impacted by whether or not she struggles with tumbling in a straight line (mine does not.) An air track is a tool that can be used for good or for bad, you just have to be wise about it - same as fire, the internet and just about everything else out there.
 
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JessSyd

Proud Parent
Oct 10, 2013
303
Sydney Australia
4 inch. We bought an 8 inch one when shutdown really started to drag on, because it was bought to go on tiles and the website recommended the extra height if it wasn’t going on a soft surface. The height of it is offputting for my gymnast as it makes her more worried about bouncing off the side (which she won’t do as it is two meters wide, but she is a very cautious kid), and in hindsight I would have bought the more slimline one.

We also have crash mats at one end, a strict one way tumbling rule, and she is only to use it for skill maintenance, not working new or not yet mastered skills.

Honestly, it is actually most useful for non tumbling - doing the ‘lines’ they always do in gym - straight jumps, long jumps, handstand rolls, split leaps and jumps etc.

The bounce is different, although she came from a gym where airmats And tumble traks are used in off season to protect joints, so it was at least familiar to her.
 
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Canadian Gym Mom

Proud Parent
Jun 22, 2018
27
We bought a 6" thick air track and it's great! I would agree that 8" might be too much if running before tumbling on the track. I would also suggest going with a wide version. Ours is 1.5m and my daughter said she would not be comfortable on a narrower track. I've heard other gym moms say they regret not buying a wider one.

I'd like to add that my daughter finally got her RO BH BT by practicing on hers (I was spotting her at first). A month later, she was doing it on the gym floor on her own. Her BH was strong to start, so that probably helped.

Let me know if you'd like to hear more about our experience with the air track
 
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Splat

Coach
Gymnast
Feb 17, 2016
166
The 8 inch are designed so that they are the same height as a panel mat or most landing mats. I have an 8 inch mat and when used for at home use hate how high it is when starting on the ground. The girls love using it at the gym as we can line up panel mats form them to start on and they don't have to step up.
 
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