Level 6/7 without grips

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Proud Parent
May 16, 2012
My child is going to be competing level 6 this fall and does not yet use grips. She tried them before level 5 but couldn't adjust. Then she tried them again after level 5 for about a month and struggled. We switched gyms and the new gym said no to grips that she's too small. She was perfectly happy to take them off. She was wearing Hotshots in the smallest size. She seems to be doing fine without grips. Bars is her strongest event.

Now I was told that she will probably do a 6/7 season. So she won't try grips again until after doing level 7. I trust the coaches. I'm just curious how other coaches feel about it and what you do in this case. I get scared sometimes because I worry that she will peel off the bar. She never has, but I'm scared. I guess I'm looking for someone to tell me it's perfectly safe for her to do level 6/7 without grips. Another coach commented that it's hard to do 6/7 without grips and such small hands. I don't know much about gym so can someone explain to me why it's hard.

DD is 7 by the way.
We have one coach (the HC) that insists that they be worn and another coach (the bars coach) that doesn't like them and doesn't think they're for everyone. Obviously, the HC wins that argument, but the bars coach will point out girls competing at high levels that don't wear them.
Our gym has the girls get them when they start L6. I know other nearby gyms have the girls use them for L5, and another doesn't have them get grips till after they compete L6. We just had a girl come from another gym where she was a 7/8 and our head coach insisted she get grips...he said it was unsafe for her to be doing giants without grips (as she had been at her old gym). So, there seems to be a range of thought on when it's appropriate to get them, but at least around here, it seems most coaches believe grips are necessary by L6-7.
I would trust your dds coach. There are many elites from other countries who do not use grips at all, even at that high level.

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Our gym usually has them get grips after their third year on the team when they've developed a lot of hand strength, but DD was recovering from a broken arm last year. She competed L6 all last year without grips, and while we had many bars adventures, she never peeled off. She did some uptraining as well before she got her grips at the beginning of this summer.

If your DD is 7, her hands are probably very small! That is probably a factor in her coaches' thinking.
I guess I worry that she will get so used to no grips that she will never want to use them. She really hated them the 2 months or so that she used them and her coach was very frustrated with her because she did not adjust. She would keep slipping off the bar even just doing her glide. Now if she gets a rip and her coach wants to tape her hand or give her tape grips she refuses. She hates having anything between her hand and the bar.

I was just wondering if she does 6/7 without grips if it will be really hard for her to then start using them. Most of the girls start using them here either before 5 or right after 5. It just didn't work for her.
It does take some girls a LONG time to adjust to them. I don't think waiting is going to make it worse for her. It just sounds like she's one of those that will have a definite adjustment period.
A girl who used to go to my gym was level 7 but was too small for grips. So she never got them, and never had any problems. She actually got to elite and recieved a full ride college scholarship. (without ever having grips!) So it is very possible to succeed without grips, just a little uncommon.
The US is one of the countries that pushes grips for most gymnasts. You'll see gymnasts from other countries work Olympic level bars with no grips. My gymmie did not get grips until after her L6 season(gym policy). She did have an offseason to get used to them and she made it pretty difficult by deciding the grips were awful and messed up her bar skills. Finally she basically caved in and then had no problem getting used to using them.
I would go with the coach on this one unless your dd has lots of problems learning new skills.
I've seen girls do level 9 and 10 without grips--not common here, but it happens. If her hands are really small, I can see that grips would be difficult for her. Don't worry about it until the coaches push it.
If she is 7 years old, she doesn't need grips. The dilemma is, if she stays in gymnastics, she's going to get bigger. Grips can be very helpful for older/larger kids, especially when doing things like close-bar circling skills. They also can lower the rate of ripping. It would be easier to adjust to grips right now when she's only starting to work giants and clear hips than later, when she'd have to figure out how to do more advanced skills in a new situation. I'd trust the coach's decision, whatever that is.
We had a L9 who didn't use grips, and our entire 7 team just got them before States to start breaking them in. All of these girls did giants without. My own DD didn't start using them at old gym till the end of level 6 when she started training giants (with different coach).
Check out Shallon Olsen's bars from Canada on youtube, no grips and pretty amazing. I'm pretty sure that none of the girls from her club wear grips, but no entirely sure on that one.
Grips are only for gymnasts who need/want them. They help you hold onto the bar, and help prevent rips, so when she's ready, get them.
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