Gymnastics 101: Equipment
Gymnasts use chalk, magnesium carbonate, to reduce friction on the uneven bars, parallel bars, high bar and rings. On vault, beam, pommel horse and floor exercise, chalk is used to absorb sweat and give the athletes a better grip on the apparatus and prevent slipping while landing. Gymnasts are allowed to bring and use their own chalk, as the texture of the chalk can vary.
On uneven bars, parallel bars, high bar and rings, some gymnasts opt to use grips to both reduce friction and provide a more secure grip on the apparatus. The style of grips varies from athlete to athlete and event to event, but typically grips are made of leather and cover the athlete's hand from fingertip (two or three fingers) to palm. They are fastened around the wrist with velcro or buckles. Some grips have a dowel underneath the leather on the fingertip end of the grip -- this helps the athlete grasp the bar when doing release skills.
Gymnasts typically wear neoprone or cloth wristbands to protect their wrists and often have invented elaborate wrist-guarding schemes involving, among other things, the application of plastic baggies, pre-wrap and balloons.
Some gymnasts opt for homemade grips or wear none at all.
Like chalk, gymnasts choose to wear gymnastics slippers or socks to help prevent slipping on landings or for women, aid in turning skills on beam and floor.