Loughborough University
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The mechanics of twisting somersaults

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posted on 2010-12-03, 11:36 authored by Maurice R. Yeadon
Twisting movements are categorised into three mechanical types, named as DIRECT, COUNTER-ROTATION and TILT TWIST. Twisting techniques are studied using mathematical models. A mathematical inertia model is constructed to enable the determination of segmental inertia parameters from anthropometric measurements. A film analysis program is developed so that the angles, which specify the orientation and configuration of the body, may be derived from digitised film data. A computer simulation model, comprising 11 segments and 17 degrees of freedom, is constructed to represent the human body in free fall. The combined use of the three computer programs results in maximum errors of 3% for somersault and 9% for twist in ten filmed movements. The mechanics of twisting techniques are explained using simple mathematical models. An analysis of rigid body motions shows that there are two distinct modes of motion, named as the ROD MODE and the DISC MODE. It is shown that it is possible to change from one mode to the other by varying the angle of pike and this permits the twist to be increased or stopped or even reversed. The capacities of twisting techniques are determined using simulations. For twists from a piked position, delaying the extension from the pike can increase the twist rate although this does depend upon the particular technique used and the initial direction of somersault. The contributions of twisting techniques used in the filmed movements are determined using simulations based upon modifications of the film data. It is found that counter-rotation techniques made small contributions and that aerial techniques, which increased the angle of tilt, were the major contributors, even in movements where the twist was apparent at take off. Using the simulation model it is shown that the build up of twist in the unstable double layout somersault may be controlled by means of small asymmetrical arm movements during flight.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Maurice Raymond Yeadon

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Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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