Blocking and Postflight Techniques of Male Gymnasts Performing the Compulsory Vault at the 1988 Olympics

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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The purpose of this study was to identify the mechanical factors that are crucial to successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout in the handspring and salto forward tucked vault. A 16-mm camera operating at 100 Hz was used to record the performances. The subjects were 51 male gymnasts participating in the 1988 Olympic Games. It was hypothesized that some mechanical factors identified in the model were significantly correlated with successful performance of blocking and body control for salto forward and kickout as rated by the judges. Significant correlations indicated that a large horizontal velocity at touchdown on horse is an important prerequisite for effective blocking and subsequent performance of postflight. The results also indicated that the body’s moment of inertia should be minimized by assuming the full tuck position just before or near the peak of flight, which maximizes the time and height available for executing the kickout in midair. The small angular speed of body rotation due to early kickout and the long-held extended body position as it travels a large horizontal distance are not only effective in the expression of artistic amplitude for virtuosity points but are also crucial for control in landing.

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

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