HILEY, M.J. and YEADON, M.R., 2016. The role of functional variability in a whole body co-ordinated movement – application to high bar giant circles. Human Movement Science, 49, pp. 95 - 103.
When performing a giant circle on high bar a gymnast flexes at the hips in the lower part of the circle, increasing the kinetic energy, and extends in the upper part of the circle, decreasing the kinetic energy. In order to perform a sequence of giant circles at even tempo, any variation in angular velocity at the end of the flexion phase needs to be reduced by the end of the extension phase. The aim of this study was to determine the nature and contribution of such adjustments. A computer simulation model of a gymnast performing giant circles on high bar was used to investigate strategies of (a) fixed timing of the extension phase (feedforward control) and (b) stretched timing in order to extend at the same point of the giant circle (feedforward with additional feedback control). For three elite gymnasts fixed timing reduced the angular velocity variation on average by 36% whereas stretched timing reduced the variation by 63%. The mean reduction for the actual gymnast techniques was 61%. It was concluded that both feedforward and feedback control strategies are used by gymnasts for controlling such movements.