Study Regarding Coordination at Landings Performed in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the existing correlations between intersegmental coordination and the scores obtained by the athletes for the technical element – landing in artistic gymnastics. The subjects who took part in this study were 21 female athletes aged between 9-10 years, practicing artistic gymnastics. The RCMV test included in the PSISELTEVA battery, developed by RQ Plus, was used to assess intersegmental coordination expressed by certain psychomotor parameters (perceptual-motor learning ability, performance coefficient, personal optimum rhythm, resistance to disruptive factors and resistance to time pressure). Using the Spearman correlation, there were highlighted important relations between the results obtained in RCMV test by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics and the scores for the technical element – landing (in the case of vault and uneven bars). The analysis of the results indicates that there is a positively significant correlation between the following psychomotor parameters: perceptual-motor learning ability, performance coefficient, resistance to time pressure and the scores obtained by the female athletes for landing (in the case of vault). Also, there is a negatively significant correlation between the personal optimum rhythm coefficient and the results for landing (vault). Consequently, the results indicate that the development of intersegmental coordination can positively influence the technical element – landing of the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics.

Keywords: Intersegmental coordination, landing, vault, uneven bars, artistic gymnastics

Introduction

The importance of intersegmental coordination, as a component part of the psychomotor domain,

has become over the last few years a greater point of interest and undoubtedly represents a challenging

topic of investigation. Coordination is the ability to execute smooth, accurate, controlled movements

(O’Sullivan, Schmitz, & Fulk, 2014: 206). Coordinated movement involves multiple joints and muscles

that are activated at the appropriate time and with the correct amount of force, so that smooth, efficient

and accurate movement occurs. Thus, the essence of coordination is the sequencing, timing and

grading of the activation of multiple muscle groups (Schumway-Cook & Woollacott, 2012: 121).

Coordinated movements are characterized by proper speed, distance, direction, rhythm and muscle

tension (Raj, 2006: 60), and they also involve a high proportion of perception, anticipation and

concentration (Schreiner, 2000: 7).

Furthermore, specialized literature (Aniței, 2007: 123) reveals the importance of coordinated

movements as an indicator that allows a correct evaluation of instrumental movements (those

movements associated with manipulation of devices, tools, machines, movements that can be done at

superior indices of precision, dexterity and timing). Coordinated movements represent a distinct

category of instrumental movements, which give the subject the possibility to economize effort, motor

action, in predictable (stereotypical) and unpredictable (of adjustment) situations. The level of

movement coordination is influenced by the level of knowledge of motor skills, as well as by the

disruptive factors or the desultory characteristics of the environment. The quality of coordination is

influenced by the position of the subject – the precision of manipulation movements is maximum for

the objects set in front and below the shoulder level. Coordination difficulties manifest through:

temporal discrepancies between information processing and motor act execution, errors of non-

synchronization of individual movements, order errors (inversions or substitutions of movements) or

commutative errors (persevering with the previous movement, interferences between movements).

Together with other motor capacities, coordination plays a vital role in successful athletic performance

(Ackland, Elliott, & Bloomfield, 2009: 211). Artistic gymnastics can be globally defined as a discipline

which involves that the athletes perform routines on different apparatus and requires advanced motor

skills: endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination and body control (Werner, Williams, & Hall, 2011:

5). The gymnastics “game” is played by performing combinations of technical elements, joining

isolated skills together (speed, strength, balance, coordination etc.) to create a unit that will lead to

success (Mitchell, Davis, & Lopez, 2002: 15). Landing, in modern gymnastics, is one of the most

important factors which determine the final rank of gymnasts at competitions (Marinsek & Cuk, 2008).

A successful landing depends on the physical fitness (preparation) and motor control of the gymnast.

Physical preparation refers to the gymnast’s ability to cope with the load to which they are exposed

during the landing. Motor control refers to the control the gymnast has over the skill they perform.

Both of these factors enable successful and safe landings (Marinsek, 2010). The Vault apparatus is one

of the most dynamic and spectacular events found in the Artistic Gymnastics competition

program. This event requires the athletes to have special qualities: power, speed, coordination, spatial

and temporal orientation (Manos, 2008: 110). Uneven bars is the apparatus requiring optimal physical,

technical and psychological training of the gymnast, expressed by a good sense of the bar and spatial

and temporal orientation, courage and self-confidence, so that the spectacular character and the

dynamism of execution in competition confirms the training preparation results (Potop, 2006: 167).

of the study consists in investigating intersegmental coordination expressed by certain

psychomotor parameters (perceptual-motor learning ability, performance coefficient, average complex

reaction time, personal optimum rhythm, resistance to disruptive factors and resistance to time

pressure) and the scores obtained by the athletes for the technical element – landing (in the case of

vault and uneven bars) in artistic gymnastics.

Materials and methods

Participants

A number of 21 female athletes, aged 9-10 years, practicing artistic gymnastics and having a

competitive experience comprised between 1 and 2 years participated in the study.

Devices and materials

The devices and materials used in the study were: the computer (only fulfilled the role of support in

computerized testing) – the participants did not provide any response to the test using the keyboard or

mouse (they viewed the standardized training on the computer monitor); the computerized RCMV test,

within PSISELTEVA tests, developed by RQ Plus – this test involves the use of levers and pedals (the

movements associated with device manipulation – levers, pedals are known as instrumental

movements). Today, the use of computer technology ensures the accuracy of registrations.

Procedure

The computerized RCMV test was performed by the athletes on the same day and in the same

moment of the day – in the afternoon. The participants were tested without previously practicing any

exercise (being in a rest state).

The RCMV test consists in displaying a software made up of different images that present, at

variable time intervals and in a randomized order, square-shaped relevant stimuli positioned centrally-

left/-right, upward/downward, as well as a green-coloured circle positioned upward-right, which

becomes red at variable time intervals. The subject must respond through a motor reaction of the upper

limbs (button pressing) and lower limbs (pedal pushing), by a homogeneous/heterogeneous bi-

segmental or multi-segmental combination, depending on the number and position of the displayed

squares. The red circle in the upward-right corner claims the one-segmental movement of the hand.

The test is individually applied and lasts about 10 minutes.

The coefficients (investigated in our study) provided by the battery software are: perceptual-motor

learning ability (rapid adaptation of movements to new perceptual conditions), performance coefficient

(a qualitative measure statistically calculated by relating the correctly issued responses to the test time),

personal optimum rhythm (a qualitative measure statistically calculated by correlating the number of

errors to the total number of stimuli), resistance to disruptive factors (when facing a problem -

unpredictable appearance of signal-stimuli, distraction - the subject gives correct responses) and

resistance to time pressure (ability to perform motor tasks under stress conditions expressed by

increasing the dynamics of situations). The results obtained by the female athletes practicing artistic

gymnastics in RCMV test were correlated to the scores obtained by the athletes for the technical

element – landing (in the case of vault and uneven bars).

Description of the technical events

Vault

Handstand on the vault table facing the movement direction, snap down, landing at fixed point (Fig.

1) and maintaining the landing.

Figure 1: Fixed point landing in the vault event
Fixed point landing in the vault event
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Uneven bars

Hanging on the upper bar, forward swing, backward swing, forward swing with 180°turn, bar

releasing, landing at fixed point and maintaining the landing.

Point awarding

For the following technical events, in women’s gymnastics apparatus - Vault, Uneven bars, the

score for landings was obtained from the points awarded for the area where the athlete has landed

(fixed point landing) and the points awarded for penalty tenths (Fig. 2). For the landing area, the points

were given as follows:

•Landing in area 1 – 5 points; •Landing in area 2 – 4 points; •Landing in area 3 – 3 points; •Landing in area 4 – 2 points; •Landing in area 5 – 1 point; •Landing in area 6 – 0 points.

Figure 2: Landing areas
Landing areas
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For every one-tenth of the penalty, points were awarded on a scale from 10 to 0 corresponding to

each penalty size, starting with 0.00 penalty points up to 1.00 penalty point (penalty - 0.00 - 10 points,

0.10 - 9 penalty points, and so on, 1.00 - 0 penalty points).

Results

Preliminary data analysis (box-plot charts) has emphasized that in the case of the results obtained in

RCMV test (perceptual-motor learning ability, performance coefficient, personal optimum rhythm,

resistance to disruptive factors and resistance to time pressure) and in the case of the scores obtained by

the female athletes for landing (vault and uneven bars), there were no excessive values – marginal or

extreme ones.

Using the Spearman correlation, we have verified if there were any relations between the results

obtained for RCMV test by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics and the scores for the

technical element – landing, in the case of vault (Table 1) and uneven bars. The following conditions

for the application of Spearman correlation are fulfilled (Labăr, 2008: 87): both variables are ordinal or

one of them is quantitative and the other ordinal; the sample does not have a large volume (21

subjects); the scores of a variable are monotonously related to the scores of the other variable, meaning

that, once the values of a variable register growth, the values of the other variable will also grow

(decrease) – but not necessarily in a linear manner.

Table 1 - Results for RCMV test and the scores obtained by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics for the technical element – landing (in the case of vault)
See Full Size >

The analysis of the results indicated in Table 1 emphasizes that:-

There is a positively significant correlation (0.540) between perceptual-motor learning ability (rapid adaptation of movements to new perceptual conditions) and the scores obtained by the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault (p< 0.05);

As for correlation, a proper indicator for the effect size index is the determination coefficient (r2) whose value is 0.29. We can say that 29% of the variation of the two variables is common, the rest being due to other influences. It means that the relation between the perceptual-motor learning ability and the technical element – landing, in the case of vault, is moderate.

- There is a positively significant correlation (0.628) between the performance coefficient (a qualitative measure statistically calculated by relating the correct and wrong responses to the test time) and the results of the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault (p< 0.05);

The determination coefficient (r2) has a 0.39 value, meaning that the relation between the performance coefficient and the results of the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault, is moderate to strong.

- There is a positively significant correlation (0,489) between the resistance to time pressure coefficient (ability to perform motor tasks under stress conditions expressed by increasing the dynamics of situations) and the results of the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault (p< 0.05);

The determination coefficient (r2) has a 0.23 value, meaning that the relation between the resistance to time pressure coefficient and the scores obtained by the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault, is moderate to low.

- There is a negatively significant correlation (-0.448) between the personal optimum rhythm coefficient (a qualitative measure statistically calculated by correlating the number of errors to the total number of stimuli) and the results of the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault (p< 0.05);

The determination coefficient (r2) has a 0.20 value, meaning that the relation between the personal optimum rhythm coefficient and the results of the female athletes for the technical element – landing, in the case of vault, is moderate to low.

Table 2 - Results for RCMV test and the scores obtained by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics for the technical element – landing (in the case of uneven bars)
See Full Size >

The analysis of the results indicated in Table 2 emphasizes that:

For the perceptual-motor learning ability coefficient, performance coefficient, personal optimum

rhythm, resistance to disruptive factors and resistance to time pressure coefficients, we have found that

there is no correlation with the results obtained by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics for

the technical element – landing, in the case of uneven bars (p> 0.05).

Discussions and conclusions

It is considered that the understanding of sports principles and bases, although improved, is still

marginal, with gaps in knowledge about technique attributes throughout the sport (Prassas, Kwon, &

Sands, 2006). For this reason, the present study aimed to identify some of the variables contributing to

successful performance. Our research revealed the existence of several positively significant statistical

correlations between the intersegmental coordination, expressed by certain psychomotor parameters:

perceptual-motor learning ability, performance coefficient, resistance to time pressure coefficient, and

the scores registered by the female athletes practicing artistic gymnastics for the technical element –

landing (in the case of vault). Also, the obtained results demonstrate that there is a negatively

significant correlation between the personal optimum rhythm coefficient and the scores obtained by the

athletes for landing, in the case of vault. The results obtained by the athletes for landing, in the case of

vault, are related to the ability of rapidly adapting the movements to new perceptual conditions, to the

ability of performing motor tasks under stress conditions expressed by increasing the dynamics of

situations and also to the smaller number of errors in tasks requiring intersegmental coordination. Our

research underlines that the development of intersegmental coordination influences the results for

landing, in the case of vault. This may positively influence the athletes’ evolution during the

competition, which requires coordinated and flawless movements and executions. Specialized literature

mentions that, in gymnastics, it is very important to develop the intersegmental coordination, among

other motor skills, because of the high variety and difficulty of movements performed by the athletes,

which make this sport so popular and attractive (American Sports Education Program, USA

Gymnastics, 2011). The research was limited by the physical and mental state of the subjects during

testing (fatigue, affective-motivational factors), which might cause variations in the motor responses.

Another limitation was related to the sample of athletes. The situation might be different with a sample

made up, for example, only of male athletes. Observation and conversation, as research methods,

support the value of our research, which is based on the study of intersegmental coordination. The

study results provide useful information for coaches to be used in their training strategy, for scientific

sports training management. The research data may also be used by the sport psychologists, who will

develop stimulation programs for some of the characteristics (for example: resistance to time pressure

when performing intersegmental movements) associated to sports performance. The RCMV test can be

used as a complementary means of psychological preparation, as it provides data about the

intersegmental coordination, which may become objective points in the specific training of the athletes

practicing artistic gymnastics.

Acknowledgements

This paper is made and published under the aegis of the National University of Physical Education and Sports from Bucharest, as a partner of program co-funded by the European Social Fund within the Operational Sectoral Program for Human Resources Development 2007-2013 through the project Pluri- and interdisciplinarity in doctoral and post-doctoral programs, Project Code: POSDRU/159/1.5/S/141086, its main beneficiary being the Research Institute for Quality of Life, Romanian Academy.

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Cite this article as:

Grigore, V., Gavojdea, A., Predoiu, A., & Predoiu, R. (2019). Study Regarding Coordination at Landings Performed in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. In V. Grigore, M. Stanescu, & M. Paunescu (Eds.), Physical Education, Sport and Kinetotherapy - ICPESK 2015, vol 11. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 423-430). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2016.06.59