Best Gymnastic Balance Beams

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best gymnastic balance beams

While “living at the gym” is a common saying, for gymnasts, it’s a reality. The more practice time a gymnast gets, the more they can advance their skills.

However, there are times when scheduling, weather, and other obstacles get in the way of a gymnast getting the extra practice time they need. The market for at-home gymnastic products is growing, and balance beams are a top seller, which is no wonder. Excellent balance is the foundation of gymnastic skills, and there’s no better way to build that foundation than spending time on the beam.

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The first balance beams were made of plain, polished wood. For a time, they were topped with a material that resembled a basketball covering. Competition balance beams have been covered in leather or suede since the 1980s.

Key considerations

All balance beams intended for gymnastics should be sturdier than basic gym class beams, but the specifics vary depending upon your gymnast’s experience level and size. A beginner might be intimidated — or injured — on a taller beam intended for a more seasoned gymnast. Likewise, an experienced gymnast might not get the challenge she needs from a cheaper beam designed for a novice.

You might buy an adjustable balance beam that can grow with your gymnast and her skills, or you might wait to gauge your gymnast’s commitment level before making a large investment. Whichever route you go, be sure to check the weight limit of the beam you purchase.

You’ll also want to carefully consider your practice space, especially when choosing a beam length. You’ll want plenty of space to accommodate the inevitable fall without your gymnast hitting a wall or piece of furniture. The taller your beam is, the more space you will need to avoid injuries. Elevated beams should be used in conjunction with gymnastics mats, so you’ll also need to make sure you have enough room for them, too.

"In Olympic-level competition, only women perform on the balance beam."


Different beam styles accommodate gymnasts at different levels. This is intentional in order to help build skills safely.


While all gymnastic balance beams have a comfortable covering, it’s what’s underneath that matters. Beginner beams may be constructed from different types of foam. This makes them firm enough for basic tumbling but forgiving enough for slips and falls.

Beams for advancing gymnasts will still have foam padding, but the core should be made of wood or metal. Foam alone is not strong enough to support a larger gymnast as she pushes off or lands upon the beam. Metal beams are the strongest, but these may not be practical to ship, depending upon your location. Cross-grain laminated wood can split the difference between solid wood and metal: its alternating panels lend the core extra strength and support.


One of the biggest differences between gymnastic balance beams is height off the floor. Beginner beams often rest on the floor, allowing gymnasts to build confidence before adding height. With a beam like this, a new gymnast can strengthen her balance without as much risk of a twisted ankle or knee.

Once your athlete has progressed beyond the beginner level, you should look for a junior balance beam with broad, stable supports. These beams add a small amount of height, giving advancing gymnasts more of a challenge. The wide supports at each end add the stability a gymnast needs to start practicing maneuvers.

Intended for more seasoned gymnasts, higher training balance beams have traditional feet, requiring more balance and giving an authentic feel. Gymnasts can use these beams to practice skills like walkovers, cartwheels, and handstands.

Some beams are adjustable in height and can be used at many stages in the gymnast’s career. If you have a beginner, be sure the beam’s lowest setting is safe for your athlete. If you have an older child, make sure you have enough space for gymnastics mats to protect against injury from falls.


Balance beams for the home generally come in lengths of four feet, six feet, and eight feet. While a beam that’s four feet long may fit more easily in your home, an advanced gymnast will need a beam that’s at least eight feet long to practice skills. Some longer beams fold in half to make storage easier. If you are considering this style, make sure it is sturdy enough to support the skills she needs to practice.

Official beams are more than 16 feet long, so if your gymnast needs an authentic practice experience, it may be easier and more economical to buy a pair of eight-foot beams. Regardless, be sure that the walls and doorways in your athlete’s practice space do not encroach upon the beam in order to keep her safe.


Quality beams have a wood or metal core, but they need padding and a cover to help protect against slips and injuries. Competition beams have a quarter-inch of padding — enough to soften the core’s sharp edges but not so much that a gymnast can’t get a good grip on the beam. Look for balance beams that offer similar amounts of padding to a competition beam. The padding should be well-attached so it does not shift on impact, which could cause the gymnast to lose her balance.

Most balance beams have a suede or synthetic suede covering. This thicker material gives gymnasts a better grip than thinner fabrics, which tend to be more slippery. It can also stand up to more use and abuse than thinner coverings. It has the same look and feel as a competition beam, so it will provide her with a more authentic practice experience.

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Did you know?
Most gymnasts old enough to compete on the balance beam will need one at least eight feet long to practice their skills.

Gymnastic balance beam prices

Inexpensive beams for beginning gymnasts usually cost between $30 and $60. Most are made of foam, although a few may have a wood core. Beams in this price range are usually about four feet long. Most sit directly on the floor rather than having feet or supports.

Mid-grade, junior balance beams often cost between $150 and $250. There is a significant price jump between beginner and junior beams because junior beams have a wood core that beginner beams lack. Beams in this price range should be at least six feet long. Junior balance beams should have broad, stable supports with a soft coating in case of falls. Aside from supports, they should look similar to training beams.

Higher-end training balance beams start around $200 but can cost significantly more depending upon length, materials, and construction. These beams should have a core of wood, cross-grain wood, or metal to support a heavier gymnast’s complex routines. They should have traditional supports and measure at least eight feet long. Training beams should have thick leather, suede, or synthetic suede coverings that can stand up to significant impact.


  • High gymnastics balance beams, which are typically four feet in height, are not recommended for home use.

  • If you’re ordering a training-size beam, be sure to order gymnastics mats for padding and protection.

  • Keep your options open: some foam beams are designed to stick or screw together, so you can add more length later.

  • Beginner foam beams come in a variety of colors, and a favorite hue may help convince a reluctant young gymnast to give it a try.

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Athletes have been practicing gymnastics since the time of ancient Greece. Gymnastic feats were one of the original Olympic sports.


Q. At what age should my child start gymnastics?

A. It depends upon what you mean by “gymnastics.” Toddler classes that involve jumping, crawling, and climbing are a great way for parents and children to bond and introduce some activity. Preschoolers interested in the sport may want to try a tumbling class which may involve very basic balance beam work. If your child enjoys tumbling class, it may be time to enroll him or her in introductory gymnastics around age six. Of course, you should always take your child’s interests and abilities into account.

Q. Why are balance beams important in gymnastics?

A. Balance is a foundational component of the sport. Balance beam practice helps build body coordination and core strength. These skills serve a gymnast well as she progresses from walking across the beam to performing jumps and handsprings. Balance activities can also help children succeed in cycling and other sports.

Q. I have more than one child in gymnastics. Which size beam should I buy?

A. Luckily, you have options. Some balance beam makers have created products with interchangeable legs. For instance, a beam might come with wide junior beam supports but also have fixtures to accommodate training beam legs. When the time comes, you simply order the new legs. Other manufacturers design their beams with adjustable legs, so they can be immediately changed when needed. This option is a better choice if you have children at different skill levels.

Remember, gymnasts should always practice one at a time on the beam to prevent accidents and injuries.

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