what’s a “false grip” on Rings?

One reason Eleftherios Petrounias deservedly won the Rings gold medal in Rio is that he does not “cheat” his strength holds with false grip.

Opening the hand makes it even clearer to the judges that no false grip is used.



Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

7 thoughts on “what’s a “false grip” on Rings?”

  1. Rick,

    When I look at the photo, it’s not so clear to me that he isn’t in a false grip position. His left palm perhaps isn’t; but if you look at his right hand, it looks like it could be in a false grip if he simply closed his hand around the ring because that hand looks like the ring is more in contact along the surface area of the pad of the palm (flexor retinaculum?) and (ulnar) wrist area. Note that neither hand would really be passable for the “neutral” false grip position if one were to base it on where the knuckles are. “No false grip” based on your illustration should have him supporting by the surface area of his fingers.

    I question whether or not the open palm method merely creates the illusion of not being in a false grip position for many gymnasts who do it this way.

    I’m thinking one way to judge it would be whether or not the rings are turned out. If they are even a little bit turned out, then the rings are resting a bit on the hypothenar surface area of the pad of the palm and maybe into the wrist.


    1. Very good point. I’d never thought of that, assuming – as does pretty much everyone – that if I’m not GRIPPING the Rings I can’t be cheating.

      I’ll start watching each and every one from now on.


  2. No way could Petrounias be even considered close to false grip. It is definitely his hand on the rings. Generally you just need to look at the position of the wrist. If the wrist is above the ring it is false grip, if not then it is fine.


  3. If you want to see what no false grip looks like, take a peek at Denis Abliazin’s Rings final routine. Nile Wilson’s cross also has no false grip.

    At 2015 Worlds, the judges had a meeting about open hand/false grip on rings and concluded to deduct anytime a gymnast opened his hand on a strength skill on rings. The trick the gymnasts use, is they can rest their wrist on the rings, and open their hand. There is no easy way to open your hand on the ring if you aren’t in false grip. The key to seeing if they are in false grip (with their hand open) is to watch their grip when they close their hand and exit out of the strength skill.

    Though, FIG decided to clear things up in the most recent newsletter and essentially said that the gymnast can rest his wrist on the rings and have his hand open, but not bend his wrist.

    Petrounias’ Rings final routine had false grip on both Maltese elements and both cross elements. -0.1 each (=-0.4), plus his dismount, -0.1 for toes and -0.3 for poor tuck position. Which all equals out to -0.8 in deductions…which is what he got.


  4. Jason, I think the open hand is also to show a total control of the rings as well, because no matter how you grip, you can use your forearm muscles to help support your hold position. In my opinion all of the open hand positions hold were with wrist on top to a different degree although in the image of Eleftherios above very less. Still it is comparably hard to how Dennis Ablyazin holds the rings with a regular closed palm grip and the most clean I’ve seen. If you combine those two and do an open handed palm hold, then the grading should be totally different. I’ve personally could hold with relatively ease ~5 seconds of iron cross, the way Yuri is holding it, while doing it the Eleftherios or Dennis way, I could barely still the hang for a few moments in my best sessions.


    1. People need to understand that the purpose of false grip is to reduce the length of the lever and make the strength move easier. Opening the hand does not make a lick of different to the length of the lever and should not ever be included in any discussion of deductions. It is also quite easy to open the hand when no false grip is present. If you look at Petrounias’ strength moves the rings are on his hand and there is a straight line along his wrist. It is not even close to being false grip. Anyone taking a deduction for false grip is just stupid and incompetent.


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