When shopping for gymnastics mats, the number of choices can be overwhelming. To determine the right mat or skill trainer for you, first focus on the skill that the mat will be used for and then select the correct size to meet your or your gymnasts’ needs.
Gymnastics is among the most popular sports, especially for younger children who are just beginning to learn to use their little limbs! It’s also one of those sports that is good to start kids in at an earlier age, as they are often fearless, with many of the cool tricks becoming more difficult as one grows. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends practicing motor skills like tumbling and running for kids between the ages of two and five years.
Your gym or gymnastics center will typically have its floors nearly completely covered with various types of mats. Whether practicing on the uneven bars or vault at the gym or practicing cartwheels and tumbling at home, it’s critical to have quality gymnastics mats down. Slips and falls happen even to the most elite gymnasts; regardless of your current skill level, you should have the proper mats in place.
When choosing your gymnastics mats, it’s important to consider the thickness, shape, size and structure of the mat. For general tumbling, mats typically range between one to two inches thick. The shape of your mat should be based on what types of moves you are working on. Octagons are good for learning coordination and balance and are available in multiple sizes to meet the needs of any age user. Cheese wedges are also available in various sizes and are usually used for specific gymnastic training, depending on the move or area of the body that most needs strengthening. Determining the right size of your tumbling mat is fairly simple; it needs to cover the training area and a good-size perimeter beyond that for those inevitable times when sticking the landing means a foot or two will meet the floor. If you’re covering a large space, interlocking mats may be the way to go for more floor coverage.
A crash pad is usually made of bonded sponge foam covered by a rubber shell or PVC. They range from 2” thick up to 12” to allow for maximum shock absorption to keep gymnasts safe while performing more intense routines. They include handles on the sides and fold in half for easy storage.
No matter your age, a little tumbling is great for most; find your mat and get going!