Leotards 101: Shopping Tips For Gymnasts of All Ages

When a child, no matter what age, takes gymnastics classes there are certain supplies their parents will need to buy (as is the case in pretty much any sport). And with budding female gymnasts, even the youngest ones, that  includes at least one leotard. As they progress in the sport, it may be that they end up needing several different ones for different purposes.

While parents want to make sure that they are buying the right leotards at the right times it can, somewhat surprisingly, be a bit of a difficult process, as they quickly discover that there are a lot of options out there. So, with that in mind, here are a few helpful tips and guidelines for making the right choice.

Practice vs. Competition Leotards

The leotards you see on TV, during competitions, are almost always bright, colorful little numbers, often with all kinds of subtle embellishments like little crystals that catch the light as the athlete moves. And it is these garments that many new female gymnasts will probably be attracted to in stores. However, these are competition leotards, designed to add drama to the spectacle and not suitable for use as everyday practice wear.

Practice leotards are less glamorous and they do not fit as snugly as their flashier counterparts. Often they look more like a swimsuit than anything else in fact. But they are better suited for regular in gym use and they should be what your child begins with. As they then progress and start competing, or appearing in exhibitions, you can take them shopping for one of those show stopping competition pieces.

Fabric Considerations

Fabric type needs to be kept in mind as you shop as well. The shinier, metallic fabrics tend to fit more snuggly and unless they contain an element of spandex may prove a little to restrictive for a young gymnast to feel comfortable in. You may also want to check the label for care instructions. This is a garment that will need to be laundered often, so if they are over-complicated (due perhaps to extra embellishments) then for the sake of ease (and longevity) you may want to give that particular leotard a miss.

Getting the Right Fit

Getting the right fit is important too. Often parents buy a child a leotard that is too short in the torso, resulting in it either restricting their movement or riding up in an embarrassing fashion that has the child spending more time trying to tug their way back to modesty than practicing their new skills.

The best leotard fit is one that is snug without being too tight, with plenty of give near leg and armholes and the crouch. It is often a better idea to try out first leotard purchases in a physical store with the child present. or, if you must shop alone or online at least ensuring that there is a reasonable return policy should the garment end up not fitting properly.