KING, M.A. and YEADON, M.R., 2004. Maximising somersault rotation in tumbling. Jounal of Biomechanics, 37 (4), pp. 471-477.
Performing complex somersaulting skills during the flight phase of tumbling requires the generation of linear and angular
momenta during the approach and takeoff phases. This paper investigates how approach characteristics and takeoff technique affect
performance with a view to maximising somersault rotation in tumbling. A five-segment planar simulation model, customised to an elite gymnast, was used to produce a simulation which closely matched a recorded performance of a double layout somersault by the elite gymnast. Three optimisations were carried out to maximise somersault rotation with different sets of initial conditions. Using the same initial linear and angular momentum as the double layout somersault and varying the joint torque activation timings allowed a double straight somersault to be performed with 19% more rotation potential than the actual performance. Increasing the approach velocity to a realistic maximum of 7ms 1 resulted in a 42% reduction in rotation potential when the activation timings were unchanged but allowed a triple layout somersault to be performed with an increase of 31% in rotation potential when activation timings were re-optimised.Increasing also the initial angular momentum to a realistic maximum resulted in a 4% reduction in rotation potential when the activation timings were unchanged but allowed a triple straight somersault to be performed with a further increase of 9% in rotation potential when activation timings were re-optimised. It is concluded that the limiting factor to maximising somersault rotation is the ability to generate high linear and angular velocities during the approach phase coupled with the ability to adopt consonant activation timings during the takeoff phase.