Loads on a gymnastics safety support system during maximal use

Support systems can be used to prevent or reduce the impact during landings in various gymnastics disciplines. A support system typically consists of two ropes, three pulleys attached to steelwork in the roof space of the gymnasium, and a belt around the gymnast's waist. The aim of the study was to determine the forces at the pulleys and the tension in the ropes during maximal loading for a dynamic gymnastics skill. Additionally the relationships between the drop height and the peak force and between the gymnast mass and the peak force, together with the effect of the coach's actions, were investigated. A gymnastics support system was instrumented with strain-gauge-based load cells. A coach attempted to arrest the fall of a gymnast equivalent mass (range, 10—35 kg) over a range of drop heights (0.25—1.5 m). To establish the coach's contribution, trials were repeated with the coach replaced by an equivalent mass and with the rope tied off to the floor. Peak forces of 1.3 kN were recorded for a simulated maximum loading gymnastics scenario (drop height, 1.25 m; gymnast mass, 35 kg). The coach's actions reduced the peak forces by 35 per cent and 48 per cent in comparison with an equivalent deadweight and with the rope tied off respectively.