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Investigating optimal technique in a noisy environment: application to the upstart on uneven bars

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posted on 2013-05-15, 12:13 authored by Michael HileyMichael Hiley, Fred YeadonFred Yeadon
The upstart is a fundamental skill in gymnastics which is used to transfer a gymnast from a swing beneath the bar to a position above the bar. The aim of this study was to optimise the technique in the upstart on the uneven bars in order to determine the underlying control strategy used by gymnasts. A previous attempt based on minimising joint torque had failed to find a satisfactory solution without forcing the joint angle histories to pass through a “via-point” (Yamasaki et al., 2010). Using a computer simulation model of a gymnast and bar, the technique (joint angle histories) used in the upstart was optimised under three different criteria: minimising joint torque, minimising joint torque change and maximising success in the presence of movement variability. The third optimisation introduced “noise” into the joint angle time histories based on measurements of kinematic variability. All three optimisations were started from the technique used by a gymnast competing in an Olympic Games uneven bars final. Root mean squared (RMS) differences between the recorded and optimal joint angle time histories were computed. The two optimisations based on minimising joint torque diverged from the gymnast’s technique. However, the technique based on maximising the number of successful performances in a noisy environment remained close to the gymnast’s technique. It is concluded that the underlying strategy used in the upstart is not based on minimisation of joint torque; rather, it is based on ensuring success in the task despite the inherent variability in technique. Gymnasts develop techniques that are able to cope with the level of kinematic variability present in their movements.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


HILEY, M.J. and YEADON, M.R., 2013. Investigating optimal technique in a noisy environment: application to the upstart on uneven bars. Human Movement Science, 32 (1), pp.181-191.


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NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Human Movement Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2012.11.004






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