Comparison of Floor Exercise Apparatus

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Gymnastics tumbling has occurred on large spring floor apparatuses for several decades. The spring floors have used a variety of elastic materials and designs to provide an increased take-off velocity and a forgiving landing surface. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of a standard cylindrical spring (10.7 cm x 5 cm diameter, 9 coils) and a modified spring (10.7 cm, 5 cm widening to 6.7 cm diameter, 9 coils) in tumbling take-offs. Specifically, take-off foot contact durations and center of mass (COM) velocities from female gymnasts (14.8±2.8 y, 159.0±7.2 cm, 49.3±7.1 kg) were measured. Gymnasts performed two trials each of a round off, flic flac, to a layout rearward somersault on each spring-type attached to a tumbling strip (12.19m x 2.41m). Data were acquired via a ViconTM kinematic system using 43 markers and 10 cameras at 200 Hz. Data were found to be reliable across trials. Analysis consisted of two, 2x3 repeated measures ANOVAs. The results showed no statistical differences between spring-types in terms of contact durations or COM component velocities. Spring-type design differences may lead to disparate spring constant and frequency effects, however, these effects of may be overwhelmed by the influences of gymnast skill, matting, carpet, and the wood and fiberglass laminate panels.

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