ALTHOUGH the direction and speed of a per- former’s mass center during impact and at takeoff significantly affect the potential outcome of any performance, they
constitute only part of the total
picture. The gymnast must also
clearly understand exactly what
she is trying to accomplish. The
following principles demonstrate
the interrelationship among variables of lift,
rotation and travel, and also serve as
important guidelines for ensuring proper
mechanics of the takeoff.
• As lift is emphasized, the resulting travel decreases, while the difficulty in attaining
• As rotation is emphasized, the resulting
travel decreases, while the difficulty in
attaining lift increases.
ILLUSTRATION: JAMES STEPHENSON
• As travel is emphasized, the resulting
lift decreases, while the difficulty in attaining
In multiple-somersault skills, it is impor-
The pieces to the
puzzle are easiest to
resolve when viewed in
terms of relationships!
Adapted from “Championship Gymnastics” by
Gerald S. George, Ph.D. For more information,
tant to note that travel is the
variable that must be spent to
achieve greater emphasis in both
lift and rotation. Consequently, it
is wise to ensure sufficient horizontal motion (travel) prior to
actual impact in virtually all multiple-somersault skills.
Again, the performer must
know whether the motion
emphasis centers on attaining
vertical amplitude, as in a single somersault
(maximum lift with rotation); horizontal
amplitude, as in a back handspring (maxi-
mum travel with rotation); or a combination
of all three variables, as in the post-flight
phase of an elite-level vault (lift, travel and
Because performer No. 1 in the illustration has a rather large angle of block, lift is
emphasized for a single-somersault skill.
No. 2 has a small blocking angle, which creates the ability to generate maximum rotation at the expense of some lift and travel.
This example would work for a double somersault. The angle of block on No. 3 is in the
same direction as the intended rotation,
which emphasizes travel, such as in a back
Edited by Dwight Normile
Comparative angles of input out of a roundoff in executing specific airborne skills:
(1) emphasizes lift, as in a tucked back somersault; (2) emphasizes rotation, as in
a double back somersault; and ( 3) emphasizes travel, as in a back handspring.