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A Dummy’s Guide to Gymnastic Mats

Updated on December 22, 2014

Introduction

Nowadays there’s a wide range of safety equipment that ensures that children can learn their skill safely. A gymnastic mat is one such product, which is a must for every home that has a budding gymnast, practicing those graceful tumbling passes around the house.

Gymnastics Mats

Gymnastics mats, as the name suggests are used in gymnastics for safety while training for new skills. Covered in a vinyl or plastic lining, these mats are basically a piece of foam 1.5-2.8 inches thick with the foam density ranging from firm to very soft. These mats have a wide range of sizes as well which are according to the place where they are used. Mats used on the beam are smaller compared to those used in foam pits. The use of mats is mandatory during competitions and practice.

Gymnastics Mats

Technical Types

The mat type varies with its use. They are :

1. Beam pads which are fastened around the balance beams and used for training.

2. Blocks, which are firm, rectangular shaped mats used as step-stools whole working on bars or beams and as practice vaulting surfaces.

3. Crash mats are helpful while learning a new and high-impact skill.

4. Folding mats are long and thin mats used for practicing tumbling moves. These mats have panels which have Velcro strips at the end which allow them to be folded, stacked and even attached to other mats.

5. Incline mats (wedge mats or cheese mats) are triangular shaped mats used for training beginners in skills like rolls, walkovers and handsprings.

6. Springboard mats are U shaped and used on vault. They ensure the gymnast’s safety in the scenario of missing the springboard during a vault attempt.

7. Finally, the Landing mats which are red or white in color and are used to lessen the impact of landings.

Mats have Polyethylene, Cross-linked polyethylene or Polyurethane foam inside. Cross-linked polyethylene foam is the sturdiest of all and is usually considered for professional use in sporting events. The mats with polyurethane foam, which are not that firm, are the ones, which are used at practice venues and homes.

Importance of Gymnastics Mats

Sporting venues and competitions take utmost care in providing the participants with the appropriate mats for their safety during the routines. However, at home we need to take special precautions since the young gymnasts are always enthusiastic about practicing their moves and running around. Homes have very different layouts and flooring from the usual gym or sporting venue, hence the requirement for better safety measures. Gymnastic mats are efficient in absorbing impact and stress caused by flipping, tripping and tumbling barefoot. Mats have extra padding which will give the budding athletes a sense of freedom during their training by reducing restrictions and ensuring safety from injuries. They’re essential in encouraging your child to practice and explore her talent.

Other Uses of Gymnastic Mats

These mats can also be used for other purposes like park exercises, aerobics, calisthenics, martial arts and for placing gym equipment. They are also a beautiful gifting option for enthusiastic gymnasts of all age.

Buying Guide

Here’re a few pointers to consider in case you want to buy gymnastic mats. You can buy them in your local sporting goods store or on online shopping sites.
- What to look for :
o For tumbling activities, look for high-impact tumbling foam which is 1.5 to 2.5 inches in thickness. It will provide protection by absorbing the impact from tumbling.
o Thicker mats will be required for any landing related training or events. These landing mats have a thickness of 8-16 inches.
o A small mat of 24 x 42 inches with 1-2 inches of thickness will be appropriate for aerobics
o Incline wedges are perfect for gymnasts who are learning to flip
o Exercise mats may have thinner foams

- If selecting the mat for a child, it should
o Be light and easy to fold, carry and store so that she can do it herself
o Have Velcro at the ends to accommodate more mats in the future
o Have beautiful colors
o Have high quality rubber which provides proper grip and prevents slipping
o Come with hooks or loop fasteners which will make it easy to store
o Be mildew and water resistant and easy to wipe and clean
o Be durable

So, whether you are looking to ensure safety of gymnasts at home, amateurs or experts, or for a proper platform for your aerobics or for that perfect gift for your niece or nephew who’s into gymnastics, a gymnastics mat is definitely a beautiful solution.

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