Why Do Some Gymnasts Wear Socks & Some Don't?

Amidst all the crazy back flips, somersaults, and other twisty-turny moves I can't even begin to wrap my brain around, one other item about the women gymnasts at the 2016 Rio Olympics stuck out — their footwear. While some gymnasts were bare-footed, others chose to wear a material that looked a lot like...socks? One would traditionally think that something as slip-slidey as a sock wouldn't be ideal for someone who's running around, bending their body in exceptional ways, and (in the case of the USA "Final Five") winning all of the gold medals (Go USA!). And yet, socks appeared on the feet of several competitors during the floor competition in the Olympics this year. But why do some gymnasts wear socks and some don't?

For the answer, let's head to thegymter.net, a website that answers questions about pretty much anything you would want to know about gymnastics. The site claims that socks provide a "better grip on an apparatus (kind of like chalk)." This can be really useful for "gymnasts with excessively sweaty feet" who "sometimes slip on beam."


Sock-wearing totally makes sense for an event as intense as the Olympics. Can you imagine how nervous the athletes must be? Not only are they performing in a high stakes event, there are also cameras and people everywhere. There's bound to be a little or even a lot of foot sweat going down in that situation — particularly if you sweat your nerves out in your feet.

It stands to reason that since everybody and every body is different, some gymnasts would feel like they need to wear socks and others don't. It doesn't mean that one gymnast is better than the other — it's just a personal choice all around. Besides, a little extra traction never hurt anybody when they're doing something as dangerous as the contortion of the body that comes with gymnastics — I mean, did you see the gymnast who broke his leg in Rio? Yikes! And hey, if the Team USA swimmers can put suction cups all over their bodies, I think we can let have the gymnasts have this one thing.

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Regardless of sock-wearing or no sock-wearing, the Women's Gymnastics at Rio was intense and totally awesome to watch. It's sad to think we'll have to wait another four years to see a new crop of incredibly talented young ladies — socks on their feet and gold on their minds. Bring on Tokyo 2020!