The balance beam requires precision and skill and it a gymnastic event that requires a lot of time and dedication to master.
When you see professional gymnasts and Olympians on the balance beam, they make it look so effortless and graceful that you might just watch in awe because you know it’s much, much harder than it looks.
Still, those gymnasts had to start somewhere.
If you have a child who is starting to get into gymnastics and is showing a particular talent or interest in the balance beam, there are several models that you can easily incorporate into your own home setting to get them started.
There are a variety of balance beams you can buy to help your gymnast grow and advance on the beam. If you need some help figuring out which one would be best for your home, we’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you make sense of all your options.
What to Look For
In the US, there are several different defined skill levels for gymnasts and there are different beams available for each. It’s important to buy the right one. Purchasing a beam that is too advanced will likely result in an accident.
Beginner beams are for the youngest gymnasts or for those who have a little experience but are just starting to use the balance beam.
They are shaped a little differently than more advanced beams because they tend to have sloped sides that results in an oblong shape.
The top of a beginner beam is 4 inches across, the same size as a competition beam. But it slopes down to about 6 inches across and is only about 2 inches off the ground. This offers more support and stability.
The goal is for the gymnast to get used to being on the beam without getting hurt. A fall only results in a short tumble to the ground.
Beginner beams sit directly on the floor and are made of thick padded foam. The soft material helps avoid injury and keeps the gymnast’s anxiety at bay because there’s less chance that she’ll get hurt. A mat should also be added for additional safety.
These are for athletes with a little more experience who are ready to advance past the beginner beam and try more advanced techniques. Junior beams are more similar to competition beams in their shape and construction.
Most have a wooden core and are covered with the same kind of synthetic suede as competition beams. It’s also square-shaped, 4 inches high and wide, so gymnasts can learn to get accustomed to regulation sizes.
The biggest difference between Junior beams and more advanced models is height. Junior beams are slightly raised off the floor, but only a few inches.
This is to get the gymnast used to the different shapes and materials to work on her skills while keeping the injury risk at a minimum. Again, a mat under the beam is recommended.
Advanced beams are for the most experienced gymnasts. The main difference between a Junior and Advanced beam is the height. These beams sit at least a foot off the ground to allow for more complicated routines.
They’re usually about 8 feet long and have a steel center to make them really durable so there’s no fear of cracking the beam with jumps or tumbles.
Most people don’t have room in their home to leave an 8-foot long balance been sitting out all the time. It’s also not good to leave them outside as the suede covering, padding or wood interior could be damaged by rain or being in direct sunlight.
Luckily, you can buy balance beams that fold in half so the can be easily slid under a bed or couch when not being used.
Beams that can fold often have unique problems with wear and tear. The ends are the part of the beam that wear the fastest and, since these beams fold into two, they have four ends in total.
The middle ends will rub together a little with assembly and use, so it’s likely that the center will be susceptible to some wear and tear.
There are some brands that manufacture beams that are versatile and can be adjusted in various ways so that they can last a little longer.
You’ll find some beams that have built-in methods of being securely attached to one another end to end to make an 8 or even 12 feet long beam.
There are also brands that are made to have different support attachments so you can easily adjust the height from mere inches to about 3 feet off the ground.
What is good about these beams is that if your gymnast sticks with it, you won’t need to spend a lot more to upgrade to a more appropriate one.
Balance Beam Reviews
The Beam Store manufactures some of the most effective training beams in the industry. They have a strong wooden core that’s composed of nearly twice the amount of wood as their competitors.
It won’t flex or bend and can hold a weight capacity of 250 pounds doing leaps and jumps. This version is eight feet long and doesn’t need a center support, allowing a mat to be easily placed underneath.
The padding is the same that used on competition beams so you’ll get a more realistic experience and an easier transition from training beam to competition.
The cover is made of heavy suede that’s durable, won’t slip, and is available in five different bright, fun colors.
Another way the Beam Store replicates the feel of a competition beam is by having slightly curved sides. This will provide the same hand grip and a more realistic training experience.
The ends are reinforced to keep them from wearing too fast, which will make this beam last much longer. The padding is also the same as what is used on competition beams – closed-cell polyethylene foam.
This beam is ideal for anyone looking to compete because it really does create an experience that is as close to the competition beam as you can get. It’s 4 inches wide, 7 inches high, and has 12 in wide support braces.
As your athlete gets more experience, you can even add beam legs for height.
- Realistic competition training experience
- Can add legs for height
- No center support beam needed
- Suede can tear easily
This adjustable balance beam has a strong wooden core that ensures its strength and durability. It’s very sturdy even with a 200 lb athlete, though, officially, we have to tell you it has an official rating of a less-than-inspiring 130 lbs.
It offers a floor mode and a high mode with incremental adjustments. It’s great for beginners and advanced practice. It’s 8 feet long and 4 inches wide. It features an iron foot base with baked-on varnish and rubber pad to ensure high durability and safety.
It’s ideal for ages 6-15, and it features a very durable wood core structure covered with padding and suede exterior. The adjustable heights are in 2-inch increments from 17 inches on up to 23 inches.
- Very high rating on Amazon
- Not a particularly high weight rating
The Brianna Balance Beam from Tumbl Trak has a solid wood core with ¼ inch rubber padding for safety. It’s really easy to set up and equipped to connect to another Brianna Balance Beam end to end so you can get a beam that’s 16 feet long.
Each comes with a wide, sturdy dowel in one end that can insert into a hole in another beam. If you’re only using one, the dowel is easily hidden by a cover flap.
The legs are made of solid wood, covered in foam, and stylishly studded vinyl for that extra little bit of style. You can get legs in purple, pink, or blue.
Tumbl Trak has been making gymnastic equipment for more than 25 years. With the Brianna Balance Beam, they’ve created a strong, safe product that parents, coaches, and gymnasts will love.
While this option is a little more expensive, the brand is well known and the product is durable enough to last awhile.
- Easy to connect two together for a total of 16 feet
- A little expensive
Here’s another beam from the Beam Store that offers a training experience that’s close to competition. The closed-cell polyethylene foam padding is the same as that which is used on competition beams.
The covering is similar to a heavy-grade synthetic suede-like material that will provide close to the same grip and feel as competition beams.
The beam slopes down from 4 inches wide at the top to 6 inches wide at the bottom and is 3 inches high. This beam can be folded in half for easy storage under a bed, couch, or in a closet. You can even easily toss it into the trunk of a car.
The durable hinge is made of steel and it has handles for easy carrying that tuck up into the bottom when the beam is in use.
Since it folds in half, this beam has two halves. This means it has four ends and the ends are the part of the beam that wears the most.
The covering on the inside of the beam rubs together a bit from opening and closing the beam and is prone to thinning and possibly holes.
- Foldable and easy to store
- Competition like cover and shape
- Reasonable prices
- Made in the USA
- Cover can wear quickly on the ends
While the name Springee sounds like an off-shore brand whose quality features may be in question, I can assure you that the vast majority of purchasers on Amazon are thrilled with this beam and the quality it offers.
With a 4.6 out of 5.0 rating on Amazon, this beam rises to the top of anyone’s list of recommended balance beams. It’s made for levels 1 – 7 (balance beam skills) and you can push it to level 10 by using the beam for strength training.
Unlike some beams that are made by a designer for the purpose of selling online, the Springee is designed in cooperation with gymnastics coaches. It offers height adjustments from 7 inches all the way up to 24 inches. It’s an official width of 4″.
The only tool you need for assembly is an Allen key which is kindly provided. Also worthy of note is the fact that this beam system has a TWO-lock system of securing the beam at various heights while the industry standard is only ONE-lock.
The sturdiness of this beam is notable for this reason.
- A lot of adjustable heights to choose from
- Exceptionally secure 2-lock securing system
- Very good price
- Some complaints of wobbling or “uneven-ness”
The Beam store has a few other entries in our list of recommended beams, and for good reason. They are overall well-rated and offer a variety of products.
This wood core beam connects with 2 sections of 4 feet each. The inner connecting brace is secured from the bottom of the beam and offers a secure connection. The brace does not adversely affect performance.
The whole thing can be put together in under two minutes.
The boards themselves are strong and won’t bend, warp, or twist. They’re shaped like competition beams with a slight curve on the top. Even the padding and cover are the same as competition beams: heavy-duty synthetic suede over closed-cell polyethylene foam.
It’s durable and easy to clean with a 4-inch wide work surface and a 7-inch height. They feature 7-inch tall and 4-inch wide beams with oval-shaped competition sides.
The cross-grain laminated wood construction can hold up to 250 pounds without the support of a center beam. This allows you to easily slip a mat under the beam.
The feel and grip are similar to competition beams and the reinforced ends protect the beams from wear. It’s also made in the good ol’ USA!
- Competition-like feel
- Made in the USA
- Wood Core
- No tools needed for assembly
- The junction between the two pieces is sometimes noticeable
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more intense once your gymnast is on an advanced level, this balance beam from Millard is the one to consider.
It’s the only model we’ve found (and the only balance beam – PERIOD … according to Millard) that offers 2 modes of operation.
The first mode is the “floor” mode for beginners which includes a set of cross-beam supports that steady the beam less than a few inches above the floor to minimize the consequences of a fall.
The second mode is the “high” mode for more advanced athletes, and it includes incremental height adjustments. The low mode (including the height of the actual beam) is 7 inches (off the floor). The high mode includes 4 heights ( 18″, 20″, 22″, 24″).
Adjustments from floor to high mode are easily done with the included hex key, while adjustments done in high mode require no tools at all.
The beam is 8 feet long and 4 inches wide, and as expected, there is an effective non-slip foot system to minimize any chances of beam movement in either floor or high mode.
This beam is built to resemble the kind that will be used in competition. It has the same oval shape, padding, and covering. The heavy-grade synthetic material is durable and really easy to keep clean.
- Adjustable height from 7 to 24 inches
- Competition like feel
- Might be a bit less stable than advertised at the 24″ height
- The beam itself may be more pliable and softer than a competition beam (according to one owner)
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
The Beam Store Suede Balance Beam is designed to resemble a competition beam in shape, padding, and feel which makes it easier to transition from practicing to competing.
This 8-foot long beam doesn’t need a center support beam which makes it easy to slide a mat underneath for added safety. It’s available in five bright colors and can be adjusted for height as your athlete gets more and more skilled.
Overall, we’re confident that you can’t go wrong with any product from the Beam store, and we’re especially excited about the fact that it’s made right here in the good old US of A! Yes, I’m one of those that likes the idea of “Putting America First”. What a novel concept huh?
For an entry-level beam that can be adjusted to various heights, try the Gymnast Hut Padded Suede Balance Beam. It’s strong and sturdy, made of solid wood and padded with ⅜ inch of foam rubber.
The synthetic suede cover comes in five different colors so you can get a balance beam that has a bit of personality. You can get various rises, including adjustable ones, that can change the height of this balance beam from 12 to 36 inches.
This is one that can definitely grow with your gymnast.
If you’re looking for some height, both the Springee and the Milliard are excellent choices. With their competition-like feel and construction, these two companies offer great beams to have for those gymnasts who are ready to move to the highest levels of the sport.
Finding the best balance beam does not have to be overwhelming. In fact, once you break down the things you need to know and the qualities to look for, you should be able to easily decide what level beam you need.
If you use our buying guide to help break down what’s available and look at the seven best balance beams of this season, you should be able to figure out one that will work for you and your gymnast.