The performance of dynamic jumps is the result of complex interactions between
many factors, including preflight characteristics, muscle strength and activation timings,
and the elastic properties of external contact surfaces. The aim of this study was to
determine the contributions of these factors to the performance of dynamic jumps and to
gain a greater understanding of the underlying mechanics.
Theoretical computer simulation models were developed incorporating muscle
representations and elastic interfaces between the model and the external contact surfaces
for vaulting and tumbling takeoffs in gymnastics. The simulation models were
customised to represent the elite male gymnast analysed in this study by calculating
subject specific inertia and muscle parameters from experimental testing with the
gymnast. The simulation models were evaluated by comparing simulations of each
movement with actual vaulting and tumbling performances by the elite male gymnast and
then used to quantify the contributions to vaulting and tumbling performance.
The characteristics of the preflight were found to have a major influence on both
vaulting and tumbling performance, In addition, for tumbling, the takeoff strategy
(activation timings of the muscles) was also crucial, with it being possible to produce a
range of postflight performances by just changing the strategy used during the takeoff. Vaulting and tumbling performances were found to be relatively insensitive to changes (within realistic limits) in the elastic nature of the contact surfaces and for vaulting the elasticity of the shoulder joint had a considerable effect on performance. In addition the use of the hand/foot was found to prolong the duration of contact with an external
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.