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The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanical factors that govern success in the performance of the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. The subjects were the 41 all-around gymnasts participating in the 1986 USA Gymnastics Championships. A motion-picture camera placed with its optical axis at right angles to the runway was used to record the performances of the subjects. Significant correlations indicated that the horizontal velocity at takeoff from the board was an important determinant for successful results, and also that the more the gymnast’s focus was on horse contact or blocking and the more vertical the direction of his effort at takeoff into the postflight, the better the final result. Quite unexpectedly, significant correlations revealed that the greater the relative height of takeoff from the horse and the less the height of CG at landing on the mat, the greater the points awarded by the judges. These relationships were almost entirely a consequence of the landing angle. Rationale for these findings were based on close observations of the filmed performances and the correlational analyses.
Yoshiaki Takei is with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2854.