gymnastics pit safety

This is a repost from a couple of days ago. Corey sends a link to a new shape of pit foam …

… the industry’s first and only conical shaped foam that improves airflow and surface contact, resulting in a foam pit that provides a softer, safer landing. The conical shape also degenerates slower

UCS Rounders are the only pit foam available with a flame retardant cover that further protects the foam from breaking down, which reduces pit dust and improves the life span of your foam pit, making it cleaner, safer and more cost effective.


Bob, in the comments, links to video of the system in use. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Leave a comment if you’ve tried them. Or gotten a quote compared with a similar volume of traditional “cubes”.

_____ original post:

With the recent injury to coach Mike Outram, I was happy to see Scarlett post some good reminders for us all – Gymnastics Pit: Dos and Don’ts


Do not land head first into the pit
Do not bury yourself under the pit blocks.
Do not attempt skills you cannot do by yourself safely
Do not land on your knees in the pit
Do not dig holes in the pit blocks
Do not throw foam out of the pit
Do not pick the foam pit blocks apart
Do not throw foam blocks at anyone’s face

read more

Phenom Gymnastics

Check another pit article on her World of Gymnastics blog – The Two Types of Gymnastics Foam Pits: Loose Foam vs. Resi-pit

Foam pits are extremely necessary for optional gymnastics skills … There are two types of gymnastics foam pits, loose foam pits and resi pits. ..

Click through for photo and video examples of each.

Of course there are downsides to pits, as well, especially loose foam pits. They cause a few injuries. (e.g landing on the edge of the pit by accident)

And loose foam pits sometimes result in a false sense of security.

Kids can do skills with poor technique into pits … and think they are progressing.

An ideal facility for me would be to have Bar and Rings permanently over the pit (in case of fluke grip slips). But access for the other apparatus only once a week.

The best pit system in the world right now is a loose foam pit atop a Jim Walker suspension.

The only way to get a Jim Walker pit, however, is to email him for details: jwalker AT

Published by

coach Rick

Career gymnastics coach from Calgary, Canada.

22 thoughts on “gymnastics pit safety”

  1. We have a loose foam pit and a resi pit. The loose foam pit seems to take a lot of maintenance though because the blocks continuously need to get fluffed and the people who run the gym don’t seem to know. So what ends up happening is gymnasts bottom out when they land and hurt themselves. I think the biggest reason is that the pit needs to be closed in order to fluff it – there doesn’t seem to be a satisfying solution on how to fluff a pit without it taking all day. Any suggestions?

  2. have you seen or had any experience with the new round covered pit blocks usc just started selling? We are having them delivered in a few weeks so ill update you when I have an opinion

  3. A properly designed suspension pit (such as the Walker system) will do much of the “self fluffing” on it’s own during daily use as long as the foam is appropriately sized, not too old and worn out. I say “most” because regular maintenance (which in my opinion lot of gyms ignore) including some deep fluffing, general cleaning, and removal of bad foam is still essential if you want the pit to last, maintain itself and provide the safest landing environment for your athletes. With a properly designed system this maintenance should become a lot less frequent and labour intensive. As we all know, no pit design is perfect but a properly designed pit system can certainly help reduce that difference.

    Many things must be kept in mind when designing a pit, from width and length to depth, volume of use, size of athletes etc etc. Non-suspension pits tend to be much deeper and therefore take more foam to fill, this extra volume of foam further lends itself to more compression and therefore more frequent and deeper fluffing in particular. Suspension pits tend to have less volume and therefore less weight of foam, leading to less chronic foam compression, plus the rebound of the bottom on landing further aids in avoiding this foam compression and keeps the foam cubes looser. Appropriate depth and tightness of the suspended bottom can vary from design to design according to shape and dimensions of the pit, composition and thickness of the liner, size of foam blocks, size of athletes etc. and this is where it often gets tricky and complicated. Many gyms in my experience, and generally in order to try to save some money, will either design their own or copy somebody else’s pit design without necessarily understanding all of the implications and wind up with a less than optimal pit and perhaps a compromise in safety as well. My advice is consult an expert if you have any doubts

  4. I landed on my knees in the pit in October… ouchy. On a skill I can do on the trampoline quite safely… just bad timing on that one attempt. Painful though. Not recommended!

  5. Ill tell you what I know as of now. The round shape supposedly helps them not to get packed at the bottom of the pit(i’ll believe it when i see it)the cover will keep them from breaking down extending there useful life greatly as well as eliminating dust. They also cost twice as much and are all sewn by hand so it takes forever to get them

  6. I had the opportunity to evaluate some similar covered pit foam pieces while on a training trip to Spain. My athletes were quite comfortable using them. The loose foam pit was extremely clean with no broken block edges or foam dust. Very nice.

    Interestingly their inground resi pit designs are also different; softer, not nearly as deep and covered from pit edge to pit edge with an opaque stretching green nylon material. While this pit was definitely adequate, my athletes found it more difficult to get used to this resi as the feeling of landing on it was substantially different from US resi’s.

    Yours in Fitness,
    Coach Sommer

  7. I’ve wondered for a long time why pit blocks don’t come wrapped in something as soft as a bed sheet. Sure, it’d be extra work, but they’d hold up much longer against kids picking at them. Kids pick at things. No picking, fewer pit fuzzies, cleaner gym.

  8. We just switched to the new system 3 days ago. So far it is a very goos sytem, but it takes little kids forever to get out of the “gum balls”. We have angled the edges (w foam) to help keep the pit fluffed. We used to colors of “gum balls” to help spot the pit when twisting etc.

  9. In the UK I commonly see rectangular (cuboid?) foam, and this is what we have in our gym. Does anyone know why this is and what the technical differences may be? One advantage is that you can easily chip one piece up and have lots of squares to hold between feet, knees, under chins etc.

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