A Comparison of Techniques Used in Performing the Men’s Compulsory Gymnastic Vault at the 1988 Olympics

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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It was hypothesized that the techniques employed by two groups of male gymnasts in performing the handspring and salto forward tucked vault at the 1988 Olympics were not significantly different. The 11 highest scored vaults (Gl) of the 51 subjects filmed during the competition were compared with the 11 lowest scored vaults (G2). The G1 had (a) significantly greater horizontal velocity of hurdle and preflight and (b) significantly greater vertical reaction forces exerted on them by the horse, which in turn produced a significantly greater change of vertical velocity while on horse. Consequently, the better gymnasts departed from the horse with significantly greater vertical velocity, which resulted in significantly greater height, larger distance, and longer time of postflight than the gymnasts in G2. The better gymnasts had the instant of the tightest tuck position while significantly nearer the instant of peak postflight than the G2 gymnasts, which caused the height of CG at the tightest tuck position to be significantly greater for the better gymnasts. During the subsequent phase of the vault, the better gymnasts moved out of the tuck position higher in midair, extended the body more fully, and held this extended position longer to a controlled landing on the mat, all of which the judges are seeking.

Yoshiaki Takei is with the Department of Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2854.

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