- Apparatus and Accessories Tips
Before you make any purchases, always check with your coach first. She may have a strong preference on the make, color and other particulars. You don't want to waste time and money.
For the younger gymnasts, to save money, you may want to check from the older girls to see if there are any used apparatus available - someone may have just outgrew their apparatus.
FIG COP 2006 says that if your apparatus breaks, and you stop your routine or continue with broken apparatus, you get ZERO. This is a change from the old rule where you still get partial score till the point the apparatus broke. Therefore, as a high level gymnast, having a spare set of apparatus is a MUST. If cost is holding you back, consider having a team spare set just for competitions. If there is a spare set of apparatus, DO NOT just leave it inside the bag, place it on the edge of the carpet so that it can be used if needed. Furthermore, remember to remove the spare after the performance (coach or gymnast) to avoid unncecessary deductions.
Every team should have a pair of small scissors, a sewing kit, some clear adhesive tape, nail polish and a small pump for the ball.
Always practice a few times before your competition with your hair done and leotards with all the crystal and sequences completed. A lot of young gymnasts have apparatus caught in their high bun or on the leotards - it takes time to make the necessary adjustments.
When decorating your apparatus, remember that static colors on a small swatch is quite different than when it is in motion. Remember that your audience and the judges are usually more than 20 feet away, small subtle color patterns and decorations may not be noticeable. It is easy to re-tape hoops and clubs, however, in picking color designs for ball and ribbon, you are committed to your choices.
Aside from name brand ropes that can cost over $60, cheap alternatives include mountain or marine ropes and typically cost under $15.
Skinny ropes are faster then thicker ropes. Ropes that are too soft or too light makes manipulations more difficult and generally slows it down.
If you are using scissors to adjust the length of your rope, tape where you are going to make the cut with clear adhesive tape. This will avoid slipping or fraying of the ends during the cut. If you burn the tip of a synthetic rope, it will fuse into a small little stub and prevents future fraying.
Tie a single knot at the end for extra weight to help with manipulations. Use a few stiches to prevent the knot from coming off.
I like to tape the ends with a contrasting color tape over the knots at the end. Sometimes the ceiling can be white or it can be really dark. After a throw, if the rope is of only one color, you may not be able to see the rope clearly after your throw depending on the 'background' color.
Hoops you get from Walmart cannot be used for competitions - it bends and cracks too easily.
Store in hoop cover in a room temperature environment and laid out flat on an even surface. Do not put heavy objects on top of it or force it into some tight space - hoops do warp if not handled properly.
Some hoop manufacturers make hoops of different sizes while others are of single size where you need to cut to fit. To cut a hoop, use a knife and heat it over your stove, once it is 'red' hot, it can easily cut / melt through the hoop plastic. Make sure you nail and securely tape the connection afterwards.
Taping makes the hoop less slippery and are usually done across the 'length' of the hoop at an angle. Use of different colored electrical tapes works well for younger gymnasts. From my own experience, I try to overlap only 1/8 to 1/4 of the tape's width between each loop around the hoop.
Taping and decorations do change the weight of the hoop. Do not decorate your hoop in the last minute - you need time to adjust to the new weight.
Hoop covers are recommended to protect the taping during transportation
A lot of gymnasts swear by the Sasaki ball because of its weight, surface, the color choices, etc.
The ball picks up dirts and scratches easily. Use only on gym floor or carpeted areas. Do NOT place your ball on top of news print. The ink will stick to the surface of the ball.
To clean the ball, use mild detergent and lukewarm water. Rinse well and dry with soft clean cloth. Do not submerge in water.
Do Not leave your ball fully pumped when you are flying, especially if you check it in with your luggage. The changes in pressure may cause leak or damages to your ball.
Do not leave the ball in extreme heat/cold (e.g. overnight in a car when it is freezing or locked inside the car in direct sun during the summer months, roght in front or on top of a heater or fireplace)
One member of the team should always have a small ball pump to allow you to adjust your ball's air pressure after travel. Regular basketball pump works well at home.
To inflate or deflate, always moisten both sides (i.e. the hole and the needle) before inserting the needle! Make sure that you are inserting the needle perpendicularly or you may damage the valve.
If you want to keep your ball in good shape, do NOT play with it outdoors or on dirty surfaces. Rough surfaces will cut into the surface and damage its shine. You can in theory clean your ball with luke warm water and mild soap without damaging it.
Make sure the connections are still secure prior to a competition or after air travel.
Clubs are made of hard plastic and can warp if you put heavy objects on top of it or leave it out in extreme heat / cold.
Clubs are made of hard plastics and therefore can crack / break if it hits a hard surface.
Wipe clean before taping. Apply clear (NOT invisible) adhesive tape over the coloured tapes, especially the gold or silver, or other metallics, as they don�t stick as well. This doesn�t have to be tightly wound, just enough to help hold on the coloured tapes.
Always leave an extra pair on the side of the carpet at competitions - I have seen clubs breaking during performances.
Ribbon consist of the ribbon stick, the swivel and the ribbon itself.
Ribbon stick was voted to be one of the most fragile apparatus of all. So checking the swivels / connections as well as having a spare is almost mandatory for good reasons.
If you need to cut the ribbon to length, make sure you cut it AFTER you apply a steam iron to it and allow it to shrink. If you are going to use water based dye, I would even go to the extent of cutting the ribbon AFTER the coloring is completed and dried. Always confirm with the coach before making your cut!
Iron the ribbon with a steam iron in low heat.
Touch up the ends with clear nail polish to avoid fraying at the ends.
It is important to check the swivels a few days before competitions. If in doubt, replace the swivels. Furthermore, put an extra set of ribbons at the side of the carpet. I hope you never have to use it but be prepared!
Make your own ribbon stick holder by going to a plumbing store and buy the right length of PVC pipe - they protect the ribbon stick really well. A 1 inch or a 7/8 inch diameter pipe will hold two or more ribbon sticks comfortably. For the ends, seal it with rubberized furniture leg protectors or pipe cap.
Use fabric softener or spray with anti-static spray in winter when the weather is dry to reduce static electricity- otherwise, the ribbon may cling to the body, hair and will affect your performance.
Draw the pattern you want on paper first. Before you color your ribbon, always test out the effect, the paint, etc on a small unwanted / unnoticeable section. Use Fabric Markers purchased at Loomis & Toles or other arts supplies tools (ie; Prism Color) OR dye (Dylon for example).
After the ribbon is colored and in its finished state, apply a silicone spray lightly to make your ribbon more slippery.
If your ribbon is fraying at the end or edges, make sure the metal attachments at your swivel end have no protruding parts. Regularly inspect the ends and if loose mend immediately.
Body glue / adhesives are used to avoid the body suits from sliding up and are easily washable with water. Following are some brands that are available in North America and typically cost under $10.
Like running shoes, toe shoes can be quite personal in terms of looks, shape of foot and comfort level.
Most coaches choose skin color so that the toes do not get highlighted.
Toe shoes do not last long. Cost can range from $20-$50+ a month depending on the brand. Buying in bulk while overseas can represent some significant cost savings. (Make sure you know the comfort level, durability and sizing before buying in bulk). Furthermore, to minimize the training costs, some train on socks and only use toe shoes when it get close to competition season.
Tiny holes can be repaired using regular thread and needle. This can extend the life of the toe shoe by at least another week or two.
Protect the toe shoe from dirt and sweat by spraying it with waterproof spray like Scotch guard or shoe spray while it is new.
Toe shoes like Bleyer may need 'breaking in'. Check your toe shoes ahead of competition and always have an extra pair that is already broken-in.
If you find your toe shoe too slippery, you can slightly sand down the dirt or the leather to improve the grip.
Toe shoes that last a few weeks can get quite stinky. Most toe shoes are quite washable but again, try it with an older pair first and see how well it works.
A couple of cups of white vinegar to the wash with detergent help disinfects and deodorizes the wash - a very handy thing for smelly toe shoes.
Get a lingerie bag to put them in (a little zip-up net bag that goes in the washer). Then you don't have them hiding all over the washing machine and dryer.