In this study, drop height and landing mat composition were hypothesized to influence the landing strategies preferred by female gymnasts. Adjustments in strategy in response to changes in drop height and mat composition were identified by comparison of mechanical variables characterizing two-foot competition-style drop landings from three heights onto two different mats varying in composition (i.e., soft vs. stiff). Force-time characteristics of the landings were quantified (1000 Hz) by a force plate fully supporting the mat. Segment kinematics were recorded simultaneously with shuttered video (60 Hz). Significant differences (ANOVA; p < .05) in peak vertical force, landing phase time, time to peak vertical force, and lower extremity kinematics were found across drop heights. Only time to vertical impact peak and minimum knee angular position produced significant differences between the soft and stiff mats. These results indicate changes in drop height and mat composition may elicit changes in landing strategies of female gymnasts.
Jill L. McNitt-Gray, Takashi Yokoi, and Carl Millward are with the Biomechanics Research Laboratory, Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0652.