2015, Volume 7, Issue 4

Task dependency of movement regulation in female gymnastic vaulting

Thomas Heinen1, Isabell Artmann1, Anja Brinker1, Marc Nicolaus1

1Institute of Sports Science, University of Hildesheim

Author for correspondence: Thomas Heinen; Institute of Sports Science, University of Hildesheim; email: thomas.heinen@uni-hildesheim.de

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Background: In gymnastics vaulting it is thought that gymnasts regulate their run-up on the basis of visually perceived environmental information, such as the position of the springboard, with the aim of an accurate foot placement on the springboard. The question, however, arises if these regulative processes found in gymnastics vaulting can be generalized to other tasks with similar demands but differing dynamics?

Material/Methods: To answer this question, ten female gymnasts were asked to perform two target-directed gymnastics tasks that were similar in task demands but differed in task dy-namics. When performing the two tasks, the position of the springboard was manipulated without the gymnast’s awareness.

Results: Results revealed that manipulating the position of the springboard had neither an effect on the distance of the hurdle, nor on the placement of the feet on the spring-board during the reactive leap. The two parameters, however, clearly differed between experimental tasks. Additionally, regulation during run-up occurred on average one step earlier when performing the tucked leap on the balance beam.

Conclusions: It can be concluded from the results that gymnasts exhibit a different movement behavior when performing tasks with similar demands but different dynamics, thereby integrating environmental information in the regulation of the run-up and the reactive leap from trial to trial.

Key words: visual perception, environmental information, constraints, artistic gymnastics, complex skill performance