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Why do gymnasts apply chalk powder before beginning a routine?

It takes a lot for a gymnast to perfect a move and chalk powder provides the necessary help for it.

A gymnast performing a routine

Chalk can be seen on the hands and rings(Source: ESPN)


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 14 July 2021 10:27 AM GMT

Gymnastics as a sport entails an immense amount of core strength, coordination, style and balance for routines to be carried out. Gymnasts require years of training to undertake their events in the Olympics or World Championships.

Something that has been a constant feature is the use of chalk powder during most of the events. Chalk powder is utilised in different ways for its immensely beneficial uses.

There are three types of chalk powder.

1)Powder Chalk

It is used often even in weightlifting and is slapped onto the hands in order to get a grip. It often gets messy to apply given that it is not in a solid form and is not usually recommended.

2) Solid Chalk

This is like a bar of soap that must be rubbed onto the hands or surface. It is more reliable than powder chalk and is often used in events that require balancing and focus.

Pranati Nayak, India's sole gymnast at Tokyo Olympics

3) Spray or Liquid Chalk

It is the most durable type and turns solid after it is sprayed onto the hands.

The aim of the the three types of chalk is to absorb sweat. Gymnasts perform all their events with their bare hands and hence need as much assistance as they can in getting a grip of the surface.

Chalk helps absorb moisture, ensure that the beams or rings are not sweaty from the previous competitors routine and allow the gymnast to have some stability while performing. The chalk is made out of magnesium carbonate and helps with preventing injuries through slipping while the event is going on.

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