How to Build a Padded Balance Beam for Gymnastics at Home

Andie Rowe
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There are two main types of balance beams…

The name “balance beam” may make you think of a beam that gymnasts use in competition, such as at the Olympics. But there are two main types of balance beams: the competition beam and a beam used for general training. This post is about the balance beam you can use for training at home or in a school setting ….

Competition Beam

Competition beams are straight, low to the ground, and two inches wide. The height, width, and thickness are set by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). The maximum height is higher than you might think – only 9 feet, 6 inches!

Competition beams can be made of wood (as opposed to a vinyl material that is used in residential beams), and the thickest part of the beam is 2.45 inches wide. The competition beam is required to be 36 inches wide where you rest your hands. Here is an image of the different parts of a competition beam and the regulation measurements.

Purchase the materials

To build your own padded balance beam you will need 1/2" plywood, ¾" plywood, wood glue, 2 x 6 x 8' boards, 2 x 10 x 10' boards, 1" x 2" x 8' boards, 4' x 4' carpet tile, 3/4" foam tiles, nails, and finishing nails.

Plywood comes in a variety of sizes. For a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood, you will need an 8' piece of 1/2" plywood and a 4' piece of ¾" plywood. It is best to use plywood that does not have large knots or voids in it, but if they do exist, be sure to fill them with wood filler before attaching the other pieces of plywood, and sand smooth after it has dried.

The wood glue will need to allow two surfaces to adhere together while keeping them flat. Elmers Wood Glue is available at any hardware store and will work just fine for this project. The 2 x 6 and 2 x 10 boards will be cut in half to create the 2 x 4, and then new shorter pieces will be cut for the legs.

The 4 x 4 carpet tiles and 3/4" foam tiles are needed to put on top of the balance beam to cushion the beam when landing. You will need enough tiles to cover the top of the beam.

Wash the surface of the wood

With 600-grit sandpaper. Go over the entire surface. The 600-grit sandpaper will chew up the surface of the wood enough to give it traction.

Glue the (6) 8ft pieces vertically together

And plan for a top 2 inches to be able to cut the top beam slightly shorter to fit flush inside the sides. The top 2 inches are left at the same length and glued on the 34 inch vertical pieces.

Use Sandpaper to smooth the surface of the wood

Cover the beam

With a soft, cushioned material such as carpeting or foam padding. The beam itself should be firm enough that it doesn’t collapse underneath your child’s weight, but the covering should be soft enough to prevent injury.

Consider placing the covered beam indoors, particularly in areas that are heated during the winter. This way it’ll be easy to go back to the beam year-round and your gymnast will have a place to practice year-round.

Pick an area that is flat and about as long and wide as the beam itself so that your child won’t have to do any extra moving and so she can practice her techniques carefully.

Covering the beam with carpeting is easy. Just staple the carpeting to the beams. Covering the beam doesn’t take much time.

Attach the legs to the balance beam

Assemble the plywood for the cross beam so that it is all one piece and as close to the length of the plywood you purchased as possible. Place the cross beam on the legs so that the cross beam does not slide off the length of the legs and the legs are secure in the grooves of the cross beam. Using a drill, clinch the screws into the legs in no more than 2 places, countersinking the screws into the legs.

Make sure the legs are sturdy enough to support the movement of the beam. Using screws meant for metal will make sure they are secure. If the legs seem wobbly, adjust the diameter of the drill bit to slightly bigger than the diameter of the screws and counter sink each screw accordingly.

Attach the base

Of the beam to the base or the ground of the structure using screws or nails. Ensure that the structure has enough support for the beam to be balanced and sturdy.

Attach two wooden legs at each end of the beam. The legs will be positioned in such a way that the beam is supported and secured on each end.

Attach wooden blocks to the legs that are opposite one another.

Now attach wooden blocks to each of the blocks that you attached to each block.

Balance the beam horizontally at the top of the structure using a rope or chain. The rope or chain can be laced through the wooden blocks to ensure the beam is balanced and secured.

Now the gymnastic beam is ready for children to use.

Decorate the balance beam

If your balance beam is going to be for general, public use, you might want to decorate the plane so it is more attractive. Put colorful patches of carpet on both your sides. Along with your theme color, you can think about something fun and inspirational; and chic to your gymnasts.

This cool balance beam is fun and light-hearted, which is what parents want in their household, especially kids who are young and easily influencing.

However, if your children are not good in sports, this unending balance beam is not for them until they get better in practicing balancing.

Now if you are planning to have your seamless balance beam at home, you may want to consider getting a different look or finishing to your balance beam.

The No-Holds-Barred Home-Made Balance Beam

You can get a balance beam that has a yellow color to it. However, there are modern alternatives. You can get a balance beam with different colors. You can have your choice of colors, such as the black and white balance beam or a brown balance beam that is popular right now.

One way you can go about doing this is by painting it. But if you do, remember to wear protective clothing and utensils. You also need to protect the floors because painting takes place on the smooth and wet surface of the beam.