New Rules: Uniform changes for competition

[Image] athlete compete in shorts at competition 

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, such as our clothing. What we wear can have a significant effect on our confidence and comfort levels. Studies have shown there is a strong relationship between clothing, mood and self-identity.

Gymnasts all around the world have shared how they feel about various regulations around leotards and attire in the gym. While leotards with different lengths have been allowed for a while, and head coverings for religious reasons are permitted, there is more we can do.

Gymnastics NSW has listened, and that’s why the rules have been amended. Athletes will now be able to compete in bike pants or shorts for all NSW state, region and sanctioned competitions. This excludes qualification events for selection on the NSW team to represent the state at the Australian Championships. This is because relevant national attire rules apply to those athletes.

Previously, while gymnasts could choose leotards with leg covering, those competing in groups had to be identically dressed. The new rules mean a gymnast could choose to wear shorts, while others on the team may not.

GNSW CEO Aaron Bloomfield says the decision reflects the sport’s desire to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all participants. It also addresses some concerns made by members of the gymnastics community around required attire for competition.

“It is our moral imperative to remove an unnecessary barrier to participation for some girls and women,” he said. “If our athletes can feel more comfortable in the gym, we know they will be happier and free to be the best they can be.”

[Image] TeamGym athlete Jordan leading her team at competition 

Former gymnast Jordan Jaques, who coaches at Cartwheels Gymnastics in Sutherland PCYC, says she is delighted by the change in rules. “I think it's fantastic. There's nothing wrong with a leotard whatsoever, but it's always good to have the choice,” the 24-year-old said.

The TeamGym coach, who stopped competing in 2019, said she felt self-conscious at times while performing. “Some people might not want to wear the leotard because they're a little bit insecure with their body,” she said. “Some girls might be on their periods, some are teenagers, going through their bodies changing. And having that little bit more exposure in a leotard is a bit uncomfortable for them.”

Ms Jaques said she liked wearing bike shorts while competing with her group in TeamGym. “Being a plus size woman as well, it always made me feel so much more comfortable doing my skills, doing my cartwheels, doing whatever I was doing,” she said. For the 24-year-old it’s about personal comfort, not about what other people think. “When I have worn a leotard, it's shown all my curves and under no circumstance at any competition I have ever been to, has anyone ever made me feel insecure about that,” she said.

“There are all different types of gymnastics you can do. Gymnastics isn't just for one type of body or one type of person. It's for all people and everyone has a place in it.”