The purposes of this study were (a) to determine the mechanical factors associated with successful performance of women’s handspring vault and (b) to contrast the findings to those of men to gain insight for improvement of performance. The subjects were 24 female gymnasts in the 1987 Pan American Games. Significant correlations indicated that the following were important determinants for successful results: (a) large horizontal velocity (VH) and distance of hurdle; (b) large vertical velocity (Vv) at touchdown (TD) on board, a large change of Vv on board, and a short time of board contact; (c) large VH and Vv at takeoff (TO) from board; (d) short time of horse contact; (e) large VH and Vv at TO from horse; (f) high body CG at TO from horse; and (g) great distance and height and a long time of postflight. Comparisons revealed that women had significantly smaller VH and Vv at TD on horse and departed from it with significantly smaller VH and Vv than men. This resulted in significantly less height and distance as well as a shorter time of postflight for women even after adjusting for horse height and subject physique.
Yoshiaki Takei is with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2854.