The purposes of this study were to (a) determine the mechanical factors associated with successful performance of the handspring and salto forward vault at the 1988 Olympic Games, and (b) contrast the findings in this study to those from the 1986 USA Championships to gain additional insight for the improvement of performance. The subjects were 51 male gymnasts in the 1988 Olympic Games. Significant correlations indicated that the following were important determinants for successful results: (a) large horizontal velocity (VH) at takeoff (TO) from floor and board resulting from a fast sprint in the approach run; (b) a large change of vertical velocity (Vv) during the horse contact by means of blocking with arms and shoulders; and (c) large VH and Vv at TO from horse, which ensures great distance and height and a long time of postflight, which the judges are seeking. Comparison of the techniques between the two groups revealed that the Olympic gymnasts achieved significantly greater horizontal velocity in preflight, change of vertical velocity while on horse, and vertical velocity at takeoff from horse, which resulted in a significantly longer time of postflight than for the USA gymnasts. An analysis of the aspect of form in postflight, possibly by means of mechanical variables, should be conducted because it may provide additional insight for improvement for performance of this vault.
Yoshiaki Takei is with the Department of Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2854. Eay Jin Kim is with the Department of Physical Education at Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, S. Korea.