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For females, the standard competition uniform is a leotard. Traditionally, competition leotards have always had long sleeves; however, half-length sleeved and sleeveless garments are now permitted under the Code of Points and have been worn by teams at the World Gymnastics Championships and other major events. Practice leotards and those worn in podium training sessions are generally sleeveless.
Leotards may not ride too high on the hip or be cut too low; in rare instances, gymnasts and teams have been penalized with score deductions for their attire.
In the 1970s leotards were typically made from polyester and related fabrics. Since the 1980s, however, they have been made from lycra or spandex. Since the 1990s, leotards have become more elaborate and have employed a variety of textiles, including velvet, velour, mesh, metallic fabrics, foils and iridescent "hologram" fabric. They can also be decorated with rhinestones, and metallic jewels that are heat-set onto the garments and will not fall or wash off.
Leotards can not be cut above hip height, or, at the top, be cut past the shoulder blades, back or front. Any leotard that is somewhat see-through, is also against the rules.
Gymnasts are not required to adopt any specific hairstyle or hair length. However, they must keep long hair tied back in some sort of fashion, be in a ponytail, or a braid. Most of the time, gymnasts are issued hair ties and scrunchies that match their competition leotards or if Muslim wear hijab (head scarf).
For regular training and practice sessions, gymnasts generally wear whatever they choose. Some gymnastics schools have specific regulation attire; however, this is not usually the case. Sleeveless workout leotards are greatly preferred, and are frequently paired with shorts, leggings, T-shirts, tank tops or bicycle shorts. As in competition, gymnasts must tie their hair back. For female gymnasts, attire usually must fit close to the body in order to reduce risk of injury.
For competitions, male gymnasts wear two layers of clothing. The first, a singlet (or Comp Shirt - Short for Competition Shirt) is a sleeveless leotard. For floor and vault, gymnasts wear a pair of very short shorts over the singlet. For their other events, they wear a pair of long pants, attached to the bottom of the feet with stirrups.
Men's uniforms are usually less ornate than those of their female counterparts. Singlets usually employ one or more of the national team colors, but there are no restrictions on design. Shorts and pants are generally a solid color, usually white, blue, red or black.
Gymnasts are not required to adopt any specific hairstyle, however, almost all male athletes opt to have short hair. While some male gymnasts opt to have facial hair, this is generally limited to a neatly trimmed moustache or goatee.
For regular training and practice sessions, a majority of male gymnasts choose casual workout attire, such as shorts and tank tops, or they train shirtless.
Additionally, each team has their own set of warm-ups. Typically, these are a zip up jacket with the team name on the back, and the gymnast's name on the left upper chest. The pants correspond to the jacket. At some competitions, gymnasts accept their medals wearing their warm-ups; at others, they ascend the podium wearing only their competition attire.
Both men and women are allowed to compete with grips (straps of leather that cover the hand) and wrist guards. They are also permitted to wear special gymnastics shoes, which resemble ballet slippers, if they so choose (many of them choose to be barefoot). Ace bandages and braces for arms, knees, ankles or other joints are allowed as needed.
Many national teams and clubs issue other accessories to their competitive gymnasts, including matching gym bags, sneakers, T-shirts and casual workout pants. Gymnasts may wear these items when they appear together at competition opening ceremonies or other functions.
For international competitions, gymnasts always wear uniforms provided to them by their national gymnastics federation. These garments typically employ the country's national colors, however, there are no restrictions on design. In some cases, gymnasts wear a more traditional national leotard for the team portion of the competition, and are allowed some measure of personal choice during the all-around and event finals.
Gymnasts competing at national or local events typically wear the team leotard of their home gymnastics club. Costs for these leotards are generally borne by the gymnasts or their parents.
During a competition, a number, or "bib", is attached to the leotard or singlet's back with safety pins. The number identifies the gymnast to the judges and aids them in tabulating the scores. If a gymnast competes without his or her number, he or she incurs a deduction.
Before 1997, many gymnasts, both female and male, wore pendants and necklaces of religious or sentimental significance while competing. All jewelry is now banned under the Code of Points. Gymnasts with pierced ears may wear studs or post earrings. Other piercings, if visible, are generally removed for competition.
Tattoos, while not strictly banned in the Code of Points, are usually concealed during competition by tape or bandages.