This study compared the techniques used by elite male gymnasts in performing blocking or pushoff against the horse and postflight in the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. Forty-one American gymnasts were compared with 51 Olympic gymnasts on the mechanical factors governing the blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout in postflight. A 16-mm high-speed camera recorded the performance of the gymnasts during the 1986 USA Gymnastics Championships and the 1988 Olympic Games. The results indicated that Olympic gymnasts assumed the tightest tuck position significantly nearer the peak of the parabolic path of CG and thus achieved significantly greater height of CG at the tightest tuck position during the somersault than did the U.S. gymnasts. The superiority of body control by the former after the tightest tuck to landing was evidenced by significantly longer time, larger horizontal and angular distances, greater average moment of inertia, and smaller angular velocity.
Yoshiaki Takei is with the Department of Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115-2854.