Why Do Gymnasts Use Chalk?

When it concerns gymnastics in New Hampshire, there are certain things that students and expect across the board.  For instance, in most gymnasiums, a tub of chalk is available for gymnasts to use.  By liberally dusting their hands, and maybe even their legs, these athletes are provided with added benefits.  Although the usual assumption is that chalk is used for grip, have you ever really thought about its use? Or have you ever wondered what this chalk is comprised from? The answer may surprise you!

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Uses of Chalk

Sure, the use of chalk helps an athlete’s grip.  But do you know why? These athletes are working hard.  With hard work comes sweat.  The use of chalk provides students an easy way to absorb moisture from their hands.  Working with several different pieces of equipment, a gymnast needs the assurance of safety as they perform their routine. A sweaty ring or damp uneven bars can lead to traffic accidents; chalk helps to provide a safe, reliable, grippable surface. 

Gymnasts not only powder their hands, but some will also powder their legs.  Using equipment such as the high bar and uneven parallel bars puts an athlete in contact with equipment beyond their hands.  Powder will not only help to absorb moisture but reduce friction to the skin.


Types of Chalk

Chalk has been around as long as modern gymnastics.  Once referred to as mag, chalk is comprised of magnesium carbonate (MgCO3).  This white material is found throughout nature and shouldn’t be confused with the commercial blackboard chalk. Although several athletes wear grips while performing, powdered chalk is still applied to the grip for additional support. 

Although chalk provides gymnasts with crucial safety features, it can also be harmful if not properly maintained.  As with any chalk substance, the dust can become airborne, causing respiratory system irritations.  Chalk can also create a slippery surface on mats and bars if it is not cleaned.  Because of this, some gymnasiums have banned the use of powder.  However, with the proper precautions and regular cleaning schedule, chalk can be an optimal solution for athletes.



Although it’s not a requirement in gymnastics, chalk is felt to improve the safety of the gymnast, so it is allowed. However, gymnasts are forbidden from applying chalk directly to the equipment.  Instead, they are permitted to dust their hands, legs, and feet with a small amount before performances.  Most establishments prefer the spray form of chalk.  Due to its ability to dry within seconds, spray chalk is also legal for use in competitions.

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If you’re searching for gymnastics in New Hampshire and have concerns about what is allowed and what isn’t, it’s always best to check directly with your gym.  Here at the Nashua School of Gymnastics, believe that a safe gymnast is a happy gymnast!  Thus, you can rest assured that your child’s well-being will always be a first priority with our staff.  For more information on the variety of classes we offer, call us today at 603.880.4927.