At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, 18 single somersaults with one twist in the women’s compulsory floor exercises were recorded using two video cameras. An 11 segment computer simulation model was used to analyze the twisting techniques used. It was found mat counter-rotation techniques accounted for less than one third of the twist for all gymnasts, indicating that the production of twist was mainly a consequence of the angular momentum and a non-zero tilt angle. Contributions to the tilt angle reached at the mid-twist position were used as measures of the twisting potential of various techniques. Contact techniques accounted for 30% of the tilt produced, the remainder being produced using aerial techniques, which primarily comprised a symmetrical lowering of the arms together with minor contributions from asymmetrical arm and hip movements. There was no evidence of a difference in technique between the highest and lowest scoring competitors.
The authors are with the Sports Biomechanics Laboratory at Loughborough University, Loughborough, LE11 3TU, UK.