Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Human Motion

pp 1-19

Date: Latest Version

Airborne Movements: Somersaults and Twists


The angular momentum required for somersault is produced during the approach and final contact phase prior to becoming airborne, while twist may be initiated either during contact or in the aerial phase. The aerial phase of twisting and non-twisting somersaults may be understood in terms of the two modes of rigid body rotations: the twisting somersault and the wobbling somersault. Elite performance of twisting somersaults is characterized as having a large aerial twisting technique contribution arising from asymmetrical movements of the arms and hips. Investigation of optimum technique using computer simulation indicates that elite technique may be characterized as maximizing success within an environment of motor system noise. Computer simulation has established limiting performances to be triple straight somersaults in tumbling and high bar dismounts, and the handspring triple salto in vaulting. Each elite performance of a twisting somersault requires in-flight adjustments to be made on the basis of feedback provided by the vestibular and visual systems.


Twisting somersault Computer simulation Angular momentum Gymnastics Trampolining Springboard diving Aerials Optimum technique Limiting performances Motor control Variability Twisting techniques Biomechanics