Page 1


December 1986

Vol. 6, No. 4

Forward Aerial Walkover SESSION PRE







55 50

45 40


30 25

20 15 10


Competitive Stress Management Non-Prollt Organization

U.S. Postage

PAID Permit No . 6466 Indianapolis, Ind

December 1986

Vol. 6, No. 4

Inside This Issue 4-8

Forward Aerial Walkover By Nicholas Fabish, Jr. Ronald Hetzler Southern ·Illinois Univ.

10-14 Competitive Stress Management

By Mickey Orr Belleville, Ill.

15-16 Psychological Characteristics Of Junior Elite Female Gymnasts

By Keith Henschen Bill Sands Univ. of Utah


Calendar of Events


Pan American Selection Procedures (Men)

All USGF photos © 1985-86, by Dave Black CHA NGE OF ADDRESS AND SUBSCR IPTION INQU IRIES: In order to ensure uninterrupted delivery of TECHN IQU E magazine. notice o f change of addre ss should be made six to eight weeks in advance. For fast es t

service. please enclose your present mailing label. Direct all subscription mai l to TECHN IQU ESUBSCR IPT IONS. 1099 N. Meridian St .. Suite 380. Indianapolis , IN . 46204 . POSTMASTER: Send address change to TECHNIQUE. 1099 N. Meridian St .. Ind ianapolis. IN 46204 . TECHN IQUE is published quarter ly for $12.00 by the United States Gymnastics Federation. 1099 N. Meridian St.. Suite 380. Indianapolis. IN . 46204 (Phone: 317-638-8743) . Th ird class postage paid at Indianapolis. IN . Subscripti on price: $12.00 per year in United Sta tes: all other countries $24 .00 per year . Back issue single copies $2.00 plus $1.00 postage/ handling . All reasonable care will be taken . but no responsibility can be assumed fo r unsolicited material : enclose return postage .© 1986 by USG F and Technique. All rights reserved . Printed in USA. Techniqu e Preparation of Art icles for Submission : Please foll ow a uniform format of preparing articles for submission in order to provide the most efficient channe l through the evaluation and review process . The fo llowing should be included in submissions : 1. An o riginal type copy, doubled spaced on B'h x 11 inch paper . 2. An abstract . on a separate page . a short summary of procedure and explanation of study or article content (not more than 150 words} . 3. A short biographical paragraph on a separate page of the author or authors accompanied by a small

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USG F Department of Publications 1099 N. Meridian St .. Suite 380 Indianapo lis. IN 46204 Upon receipt of the article. to the USGF office. the research coordinator wi ll review and forward co pies to the appro priate USGF Sports Advisory Committee members for revi ew. On receiving their review. copies of the article will go to the Managing Editor and Execut ive Di rec tor for final approval for publication. If it is necessary for the article to be edited or revised in order to improve the effectiveness of communication to a wide variety- level of readers. the author will receiv e the edited article prior to publi shing for their approval. • 11 the article or parts of have been su bmilted and/ or published by another publication . a complete name and address of the Editor and Publ ication shou ld accompany the article upon submission to the U SGF in order to fol low proper procedures o f publishing and to receive approval to reproduce th e ar ticl e in the USGF publication .

Publisher Mike Jacki Education/Safety Editor Dr. Gerald George Production Michael G. Botkin UNITED STATES GYMNASTICS FEDE RATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS : Executive D irector: Mike Jacki. Athlete Representatives: Lydia Bree; Peter Vidmar; Linda Kardos; Tom Beach; Kathy Johnson; Tim Daggett; Kelly Garrison . Amateur Athletic Union: jerry Hardy. American Sokol Organization: Norma Zabka . American Turners: Harry Warnken. Members at Large: Linda Chencinski. NCAA Gymnas tics CoachesMen: Fred Roethlisberger, University of Minnesota. NCAA Gymnastics Coaches-Women: Judi Avener, Penn State University. National Association for Girls and Women m Sports: Dr. Mimi Murray, Sprin~field College. National Association of Women s Gymnastics Judges: Dale Brown. NCAA: Sylvia Moore, Oregon State University; Gail Davis, Rhode Island College; Jerry Miles, c/o NCAA; Wayne Young, Brigham Young University. NAIA: Bonnie Morrow. NHSGCA: John Brinkworth . National Federation of State High School Athletic Assoc.: S h aron Wilch; Susan True. National Jewish Welfare Board: Courtney Shanken. NJCAA : Dave Rowlands, Truman College. "NGJA: Mike Milidonis. USAIGC: Ed Knepper. Men's Elite Coaches Assoc.: Jim Howard, University of Nebraska. USECA for Women: Roe Kreu tzer; Steve Whitlock. Young Men's Christian Assoc .: Cliff Lothery . Jr. Boy's Gym. Coaches Assoc. : Rich Boccia. President: Mike Donahue. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Pre side nt : Mike Dona hue. Secretary: Judi Avener. Vice President: Jim Howard . Executive Director: Mike Jacki. FIG Technical Committee: Jackie Fie. FIG Rhythmic Technical Comm.: A ndrea Schmid. FIG Men's Technical Committee: Bill Roetzheim. Vice President for Women: Sue Ammerman . President Emeritus: Bud Wilkinson. Athlete Representatives: Ka thy Johnson; Peter Vidmar; Larry Gerald. · Members at Large: Mike Milidonis; Linda Chencinski.

Associate Content Editors SPORTS MEDICINE COMMITl'tt Merrill A. Ritter, M.D. SAFETY COMMITTEE

Dr. Marc Rabinoff


Dr. Garland O'Quinn


Dr. Keith Henschen, Ph.D.


Dr. Pat Eisenman, Ph.D. Unless expressly identified to the contrary, all articles, srate mcnts and views princed h erein

are a1tribu1ed soley 10 the author and the United States Gy mnastics Federatio n ex presses no o pin· ·ion the reo n and ass um es n o respons ibilit y




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Forward Aerial Walkover Effect of Selected Kinematic Variables on Judges' Ratings of the Forward Aerial Walkover Nicholas E. Fabish, Jr. and Ronald K. Hetzler Southern Illinois University Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Nicholas E. Fabish, Jr. is currently Director and Head Coach of the Men's Gymnastics program at Jewart's School of Gymnastics in Pittsburgh, PA Abstract

he purpose of this study was to quantify selected biomechanical variables describing the forward aerial walkover and to test their effects on judges' ratings. The data were collected using a 16 mm LoCam high speed camera positioned perpendicular to the line of action. Five subjects performed three trials each. From the fifteen filmed trials measurements were obtained using a Numonics 1224 digitizer interfaced to an Apple II Plus microcomputer. The biomechanical variables included in the analysis were knee angle of takeoff leg at takeoff (A 1), knee angle of takeoff leg at apex (A2), knee angle of takeoff leg at landing (A3), knee angle of swing leg at takeoff (A4), knee angle of swing leg at apex (A5), knee angle of swing leg at landing (A6), trunk-thigh angle at takeoff (A?), trunkthigh angle at landing (AB), split angle at takeoff (A9), split angle at apex (A 10), split angle at landing (A 11 ), greatest amount of knee flexion of takeoff leg prior to takeoff (A 12), total time airborne {Time), horizontal distance traveled (H.D.), and vertical displacement of center of gravity (V.D.). To determine which variables were the most significant contributors to the judges scores, a stepwise2 regression analysis to maximize R was conducted. The most parsimonious model 2 (R = 97.4) included five variables of




which four occurred during the apex phase of the skill. The regression equation was: Predicted Score = 0 .183 + 0.097(A2) - 0.092(A4) + 0.051 (A5) + 0.061(A10) + 14.865(V.D.). ltwasrecommended that to receive a high rating in the forward aerial walkover a gymnast should concentrate on obtaining a maximum knee extension throughout the skill, obtain the maximal split angle that does not compromise knee extension, and maximize the vertical force component to obtain more height.

Effect of Selected Kinematic Variables on Judges' Ratings of The Forward Aerial Walkover n gymnastics, judges have only a brief look at the skill they are asked to evaluate. Therefore , they must focus on specific criteria, some of which may be weighted more heavily than others. To be able to predict which phase and which variables of a skill the judges look at most critically would allow the coach and athlete to improve these specific areas and subsequently contribute to the attainment of a high score. One way to accomplish this would be to relate actual judges ' scores to selected kinematic variables identifying those that account for the variance in judges' ratings on specific tricks. Men's and women 's gymnastics floor exercise routines have included the use of forward aerial walkovers for many years. The forward aerial walkover is a skill which requires a combination of power, flight and flexibility. To perform the movement the gymnast must generate sufficient height to allow forward rotation 360 degrees about the transverse axis. The element which differentiates the aerial walkover from most other forward rotating movements, is that this skill involves a takeoff from one foot then a landing on the opposite foot. In the middle of the aerial the gymnast performs another unique movement which is marked by the gymnast's execution of a split when completely inverted and airborne. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify selected biomechanical variables describing the forward aerial walkover to test their effects on judges' ratings.


Method Five skilled subjects were selected on their ability to perform the forward Techniqu e

aerial walkover and gave their informed consent. A description of the subjects is presented in Table 1.

Four Illinois state certified gymnastics judges independently rated each trial , on a scale of 1-10, as the subjects performed the skill. The subjects were asked to perform the skill three times. Each trial was filmed at 100 frames/ second. The subjects' starting position was standing erect with the arms extended at the elbows and the shoulders flexed 180째 (see Figure 1).

The subjects were not permitted to run and hurdle. The takeoff leg was to be flexed approximately 90 degrees at the hip joint with the knee fully extended . All subjects were required to perform the Russian style arm lift. The Russian lift is a circling of the arms at the shoulder, whereby the arms move forward and downward (in the sagittal plane) and continue backward until maximum hyperextension. The data were collected using a 16 mm LoCam high speed camera positioned perpendicular to the place of motion. Data were extracted from the film using a Numonics 1224 programmable electronic digitizer interfaced to an Apple II Plus microcomputer. Computer software programs were utilized to generate joint angles, and horizontal and vertical displacements of the center of gravity. The kinematic analysis was limited to the frames that illustrated: the smallest absolute angle of knee flexion of the takeoff leg prior to takeoff, the instant of takeoff, the apex (defined as the moment of zero vertical acceleration of the center of gravity) , and the instant of landing. Fifteen biomechanical variables were included in the analysis . They were knee angle of takeoff leg at takeoff (A 1), knee angle of takeoff leg at apex (A2}, knee angle of takeoff leg at landing (A3}, knee angle of swing leg at takeoff (A4) , knee angle of swing leg at apex (A5) , knee angle of swing leg at landing (A6} , trunk-thigh angle at takeoff (A7), trunk-thigh angle at landing (AB), split angle at takeoff (A9), split angle at apex (A 10), split angle at landing (A 11 ), greatest amount of knee flexion of takeoff leg prior to takeoff (A 12), total time airborne (Time), horizontal distance traveled (H .D.), and vertical displacement of center of gravity (V.D.) A stepwise regression analy-

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Starting Position

Lunge Position


sis to maximize R was conducted using the Statistical Analysis System and utilizing the judges' ratings as the dependent variables. The stepwise regression analysis determined which variables were the most significant contributors to the predicted overall score for the subjects in the present study.

Results The most parsimonious model 2 (R = 97.4%) is given in Table 2.

The five variables included were the absolute knee angle of takeoff leg at the apex (A2), the absolute knee angle of swing leg at takeoff (A4), the absolute knee angle of swing leg at the apex (A5), the splitt angle at the apex (A10), and vertical displacement (V.D.) . Figure 1 schematically presents these variables. The best predictor in the regression model is the absolute knee angle of the takeoff leg at the apex. The absolute knee angle of the takeoff leg at the apex is a direct measurement of the absolute knee angle in degrees at the peak of the airborne phase of the skill. Figure 2 is a graphical representation of the mean absolute knee angle of the takeoff leg over time for all subjects. In the present study the mean absolute knee angle of the takeoff leg at the apex was 169.1 degrees.



grees, with a mean of 175.7 degrees. These subjects subsequently received a mean form rating of 8.23. The other two subjects had absolute knee angle measures of 158.0 degrees and 160.5 degrees with a mean of 159.3 degrees. Their mean form rating was 5.16. The second variable in the model is the absolute knee angle of the swing leg at takeoff. The swing leg is the leg that the gymnast kicks up and over the top and eventually becomes the landing leg. Figure 3 is a graphical representation of the mean knee angle of the swing leg over time for all subjects.


he mean absolute knee angle of the swing leg at takeoff of all subjects was 173 degrees. It can be seen that early in the lunge phase, the ~wing leg knee angle is at its minimum (X= 128 degrees) . Just prior to takeoff, the knee angle increased (X = 168.8 degrees). Soon after takeoff the knee angle again decreased (X = 155.2 degrees). These general trends appeared in all subjects. The third variable is the absolute knee angle of the swing leg at the apex. The ideal angle of the swing leg at the








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l 2 3 4 5


------------ - -- ----


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At the apex of the skill, subjects 1, 2, and 4 had greater knee extension than did subjects 3 and 5, and received correspondingly higher scores (Table 1). The three subjects that scored highest, had absolute knee angles here of 174.4 degrees, 178.2 degrees, and 174.4 de-







-- ~ Technique

apex is 180 degrees (George, 1980). In the present study the mean knee angle of the swing leg at the apex was 145 degrees. The general trend in all subjects during this phase was to decrease the swing leg knee angle as they approached landing. The fourth variable in the model is the split angle at the apex. The split is the angle measured between the left and right thigh of the subject in the sagittal plane. In the present study the mean split angle at the apex was 155 degrees. Figure 4 is a graphical representation of the mean split angle over time for all subjects.

Table 1 Subject Information Age (yrs.)


Wt. (kg)

Ht. (cm)


Experience Mean Score (yrs.) (Judges' Ratings)

1 2 3 4 5

23 17 13 12 13 15.6

172.0 152.4 153.6 151 .1 156.5 156.5

68.9 49.6 56.2 43.9 42.1 52.1

23.3 21 .5 24.0 19.3 18.0 21 .2

5 4 3 3 2 3.4

6.71 8.74 5.50 8.05 5.42 6.88

Standard Deviation








Note. Subject 1 was two-time NCAA Division I All-American in floor exercise. BMI" = Body Mass Index Wt(kg)/Ht2(m) Table 2 Regression Analysis for the Five Most Predictive Variables of the Judges' Scores A Square -

All subjects reached their maximum split angle shortly after takeoff. As the subjects approached the apex, the split angle decreased . This trend was observed in all subjects for all trials. The last variable included in the most parsimonious model was vertical displacement. Vertical displacement was the measured height of the center of gravity for each subject obtained during the forward aerial walkover. Each gymnast's center of gravity was determined and recorded at the starting position and at the apex. All gymnasts, except one, displayed a negative displacement value in their vertical center of gravity measure. Only subject number 4 displayed an increase in height at the apex when compared to the starting position center of gravity. The other ten variables tested did not significantly 2 contribute to the R value.

0.97421891 OF Sum of Squares Mean Square F Prob> F Predictors" 5 33.63864884 6.72772977 68.02 0.0001 Error 9 0.89019116 0.09891013 Total 14 34.52884000 Predicted Score = 0.183 + 0.097(A2) - 0.051(A5) + 0.061(A10) + 14.865(V.D.) "1. Abolsute knee angle of takeoff leg at apex. (A2) 2. Absolute knee angle of swing leg at takeoff. (A4) . 3. Abolsute knee angle of swing leg at apex. (AS) 4. Split angle at apex. (A 1O) 5. Vertical displacement. (V.D.)

absolute knee angle of the swing leg at takeoff. The subjects who had the greatest amount of knee extension of the swing leg at takeoff also exhibited greater extension at the apex (which was the third variable included in the model). The swing leg also acts as the

landing leg for the gymnast. Near the end of the airborne phase the knee angle of the swing leg decreases for all subjects. This may be explained by the reduction of the radius to assist in increasing rotation and/or to prepare the gymnast for the necessary shock absorption at landing.




170 160

he absolute knee angle of the takeoff leg at the apex had the greatest influence on the judge's ratings. The subjects who were able to keep the knee closer to the recommended 180° during this phase were awarded higher scores. This suggests that if the performers were to concentrate on a powerful knee extension of the takeoff leg at takeoff and maintain this throughout the apex, their scores would be higher. George (1980) and Boone (1976) suggested that the gymnast strive to achieve maximum knee extension throughout the airborne phase of the skill. The findings of the present study support their contentions. The second best predictor was the




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In summary, the five variables which contribute to a higher overall score when performing a forward aerial walkover accounted for 97.4 percent of the explained variance. Three of the five variables were related to the knee angles. Four of the five variables occurred at the apex, which indicate the importance the judges attributed to this phase of the skill. The knee angles of the takeoff leg and the swing leg at this moment were highly scrutinized by the judges and were significant contribu tors to the overall rating earned by the gymnast. The split angle at the apex was also important. Based on these results it was concluded that if the performers want to improve their scores, they should obtain maximal knee extension throughout the skill , obtain the maximal split angle that does not compromise knee extension and maximize the vertical force component to obtain more height. References

Starting Position

Lunge Phase




Boone, W. T. (1976) . Illustrated Handbook of Gymnastics, Tumbling and Trampolining. West Nyack, N.Y.: Parker Publishing Company. Carr, G.A. (1980). Safety in Gymnastics. Vancouver, B.C.: Hancock House. George, G. S. (1980) . Biomechanics of Women's Gymnastics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Riddell, P. (1974, June-July) . Forward aerial walkover. Gymnast, 36.

The next best predictor was the split The ability to obtain a high vertical cenangle. In the present study, the subjects ter of gravity displacement is to the maintaining greater knee extension advantage of the performer, as it inhad less extension in their split at the creases the time airborne allowing the apex and vice versa. It has been sug- gymnast to execute the skill. The gymgested that the knees be extended fully nasts achieving the greatest vertical and the split be 180 degrees in order to displacement measures at apex reachieve the desired aesthetic appear- ceived the highest overall rating. ance (Riddell, 1974, George , 1980, Carr, 1980). However, it is easier to achieve a split angle nearer to 180 degrees if the knees are slightly flexed. Riddel (1974) recommended that maximum split angle be achieved before takeoff or rotation will be affected. In the present study the mean split angle at a takeoff was 167 degrees and this angle decreased to a mean of 155 degrees at apex. Once leaving the supporting sura colour quarterly , published by the International face the subjects found it difficult to exGymnastics Federation (FIG) , whose news and pictures are ert the unassisted muscular tension not restricted to any one country necessary to maintain a wide split. but cover the whole world of our Height attained by the gymnast was the last significant variable to be inbeautiful sport. cluded in the regression model. HowevSpecial introductory subscription er, the results of the present study indirates and brochure, write to: cate that straight legs are more important in achieving high scores than a American Representative maximal split angle . Therefore, if a coach and gymnast find that a need exP.O.Box 75072 ists to compromise between straight Los A ngeles, CA 9007 5 legs or a larger split angle our results indicate that the gymnast should keep the legs as straight as possible, which may tend to decrease the split angle. Technique 8

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Competitive Stress Management Electromyographic Biofeedback and Cognitive Coping Strategies in Competitive Stress Management: A Case Study By Mickey Orr World Class Gymnastic Centre Old Collinsville Road Belleville, Illinois 62223 Abstract

he current study employed EMG and GSR biofeedback in conjunction with cognitive coping strategies in an effort to enhance selfregulation of stress during competition . The subject was a female collegiate varsity gymnast competing for the University of Northern Colorado. Treatment involved a six-week program of frontalis EMG biofeedback. Additionally, four weeks of GSR biofeedback facilitated transfer of stress management skills from he laboratory to practices. Cognitive coping strategies were de-


Method Subject. The subject was a 20-yearold female collegiate all-around gymnast who ranked consistently in the top 20 of NCAA Division II nationally. She was 5 ft. 8 in . tall and weighed 130 lbs. with a mesomorphic body type. The subject experienced the highest levels of stress prior to and during the beam competition which resulted in unnecessary muscular tension and increased tress during gymnastic movement tempo; consequently, percompetition is a learned re- formance was impaired. Biofeedback Procedures. The sponse to inherently neutral environmental and in- biofeedback training occurred in three ternal stimuli which are phases as suggested by Meichenbaum perceived by the performer to be threat- (1976): 1) initial treatment concepening. Common stressors in this con- tualization and familiarization; 2) skillstext include audience effects, fear of acquisition and -rehearsal; 3) transfer performing poorly, and concern about of treatment from the laboratory to the scores. When psychological stress competitive environment. The subject was informed about and manifests itself physiologically the usual result is inhibited performance. consented to participation in the study. The present study was designed to The initial meeting was arranged to alleviate the negative affect of competi- familiarize and desensitize S to procetive stress in one female collegiate dures in order to reduce potential artifacts due to increased arousal which varsity gymnast.

veloped over the 10-week period and included relaxation training, mental imagery, and self talk. Cognitive skills facilitated transfer of biofeedback skills from the laboratory to practices and , finally, to the competitive environment. Treatment began one week prior to the first meet of the season and was concluded one week prior to the national championships (10 weeks) .




1 2 3 4 5

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IV 1 2 3 4 5

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may accompany initial laboratory trials. This was accomplished by a preliminary EMG biofeedback session which duplicated that of actual treatment. Further, the subject completed a Gymnastic Anxiety Inventory (Orr, 1986) which was designed to identify competition-related psychological stressors and to assess the subject's specific physiological stress response(s). The inventory was completed after the third week of treatment and again following the post-test. For the first treatment session on the subject was instructed to "relax" to the best of her ability while she sat blindfolded for a half-hour period. This was done to minimize residual muscle tension from any vigorous activity prior to treatment. This preliminary relaxation period was not included as part of the treatment in subsequent trials. Skills-acquisition procedures began with a frontalis EMG using an Autogen 1700 set at the 100- to 200-Hz. bandpass. Following the preliminary relaxation period, a three-electrode band was fixed 1/2 inch above the subject's eyebrows with the center electrode in vertical alignment with the nasion and inferior to the Anterior Galea Aponeurotica where it bisects the frontalis muscle in the saggital plane. The subject was instructed to close her eyes and continue to "relax" to the best of her ability. She was told that by relaxing the frontalis muscle, general muscular relaxation throughout the body would result. The experimenter recorded the visually monitored analog information (numerical reading) at twominute intervals for a period of 1O minutes. The numerical total of the five . readings was summed and divided by five to arrive at a numerical average which corresponded to the subject's average stress level during the 10minute trial. This portion of treatment will be referred to as "no-feedback. " Immediately following this segment of the treatment the subject was instructed to open her eyes and watch the monitor as she attempted to move the needle as far left as possible. She was told that the farther left the needle was, the more relaxed she had become. This was done for a period of 15 minutes. The EMG monitor was the only source of feedback utilized ; the light display, audio feedback, and verbal feedback from the experimenter were not used. This portion of treatment will be referred to as "feedback."


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he no-feedback - feedback procedure was followed the first session of each week. The remaining two sessions per week involved only the feedback portion of treatment where the subject monitored her stress level in the absence of the experimenter. The experimenter was present only to make sure that the electrodes were properly positioned and that the Autogen 1700 was set appropriately. At the conclusion of the fourth week of EMG biofeedback training, the subject was instructed in the use of the GSR biofeedback device. This was accomplished by reading the manual and listening to an instructional audio cassette tape in the presence of the experimenter. The GSR was used during regularly scheduled gymnastic practices, twice per week, under competition-simulated conditions. The simulated competition involved the entire competitive team warming-up in competition fashion and performing in competitive line-up order. The event rotation was the same that would be followed during the ensuing competition. The coach acted as judge during the execution of routines. Cognitive Coping Procedures. Prior to EMG training the subject had been introduced to and was practicing imagery techniques as part of her regular gymnastic training. The techniques were assimilated from those suggested by Loehr (1980); Orlick (1980); and Nideffer (1985) . The objective of imagery training was to develop proficiency with respect to vividness, perspective, and timing. Fundamental to these three qualities of imagery training is the concept that practice proceed from less complex images, such as shapes and colors, to more complex images, such as movements and sounds. Vividness refers to the ability of the subject to imagine the performance in detail: "seeing," "hearing ," and "feeling" aspects of the performance as they are in actuality. Techniques used to develop the quality of vividness included: imagining the movements of a floor exercise routine while listening to the music; imagining the floor exercise music while performing the movements; imagining a meet situation during practices (audience, judges, etc.); and rehearsing movements covertly immediately following actual performance. The subject was also trained to imagine her routines from a first-person or


subjective perspective as she would see and feel the movement during its execution. Methods used to develop this quality of proficient imagery relied heavily on covert rehearsal immediately following the actual performance of a movement or routine. Also, the subject viewed videotape replay of movements and routines which involves observation from a third-person or objective perspective. She then would attempt to view the same movements from a subjective perspective. As advocated by Weinberg (1984), subjective imagery allows the performer to process information in a manner that more closely duplicates overt performance than would occur if the objective perspective were employed. Timing movement images to match actual performance time was also practiced. Imagined routines would be timed and compared to actual execution time. Since no objective measures of vividness and perspective have been developed, the experimenter accepted a subjective assessment of competency in these areas. Ability to perceive movement time during imagined routines was found to be close to the movement time of actual routines. It

was concluded that the subject had developed an adequate degree of proficiency in movement imagery. It is evident, however, that stricter, more objective measures need to be developed. Beginning with the fourth week of EMG training, the subject was instructed to imagine stressful, competition-related scenes while monitoring EMG output. The statements were developed from the anxiety inventory and read to the subject during training. Statements were arranged in order from least to most anxiety-provoking. The instructions were: "I will read to you a series of statements. Imagine the scene as vividly as you can while trying to keep the needle to the left." An example of the statements read is presented below: Mildly Stressful 1) You are next up on vault/bars/ beam/floor. 2) The judge acknowledges you. 3) Imagine yourself performing your routine from mount to dismount. Moderately Stressful 1) You are next up on vault/bars/ beam/floor - you know that the



3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5



65 60 55


50 45


6 42 0


= 51.0


Figure Captions Figure 1. 1a) No-feedback readings recorded throughout the six week EMG biofeedback skills-acquisition training period ; 1b) Nofeedback readings recorded for the pre-test and post-test. Figure 2. Average EMG output recorded during pre-test, nofeedback sessions, and post-test.


judges are scoring tough (specific judges' names were read) and that you will have to hit well to receive a decent score. 2) You prepare to salute the head judge and realize that she has been waiting for you. 3) You begin your routine with a minor error and know that it will cost you a few tenths. Most Stressful

reads the statements silently to herself. The more anxiety-provoking statements were read only after an adequate EMG reading was attained for less stressful scenes. Also at the beginning of week four the subject and experimenter collaborated to develop self-talk statements in an attempt to neutralize the negative affect of competitive stress. Some self-talk statements were " Breath slowly," "This routine is yours," " Release your tension," and "Just like practice. " Relaxation training involved listening to a 15 minute audio cassette tape (Thought Technology, Ltd .) utilizing the "body scan" method which the subject performed at home daily. The subject reported using the tape only three times before she developed her own body scan relaxation methods which was used nightly to induce relaxation and sleep.

1) You are next up on vault/bars/ beam/floor - the judges have been giving favorable scores to the other team but not your team . It is a very close meet and the team is depending on your performance. 2) You did not have a good week of practice and warm-ups were terrible. You do not like the equipment and do not feel very confident about your ensuing performance. Results 3) Your teammates competing beigure 1a depicts the subfore you have had numerous falls ject's EMG levels recorded during their routines. You also fall by the experimenter for the as you begin your routine and six weekly no-feedback must now finish . sessions. Figure 1b shows The experimenter reads the statements to the subject during week four. no feedback readings taken during the During weeks five and six the subject pre-test and post-test. The post-test










consisted of a no feedback reading taken six weeks following EMG training in order to assess the degree of retention of the learned biofeedback skills.

As shown in Figure 1a, the subject exhibited little improvement in performance from sessions I to II. A marked improvement was shown from sessions II through IV. She showed continued, though lesser, improvement from session IV to session V and then a slight increase in tension from sessions V to VI. Figure 1b illustrates the fact that the highest levels of EMG output occurred during the pre-test while the lowest stress level was exhibited during the post-test. The averages of the EMG pre-test, no-feedback sessions, and post-test are plotted in Figure 2.


rom the performance curves in Figures 1 and 2 learning can be inferred. It appears that the pre-test did serve to desensitize S with regard to the experimental setting and permitted a more accurate baseline reading during session I. The first week of EMG training did not result in significant improvement in the subsequent session (11) although it cannot be concluded that learning did not result. The most pronounced performance increments during regular training occurred from sessions II to Ill and from sessions Ill to IV of 13.6 and 10.6 microvolts, respectively. From sessions IV through VI there was a negligible increment followed by an equally neglible decrement. It is uncertain whether the subject experienced a plateau in performance or whether the other interventions introduced at the beginning of the fourth week inhibited further gains. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that six weeks following EMG training, the subject demonstrated a 10.8 microvolt performance gain from session VI to the post-test. Whether this performance increment was a result of the treatment, maturation, or experimenter or apparatus error cannot be determined. Further, readings were recorded subjectively by the interviewer. Due to the frequent fluctuations of EMG activity, it is recommended that similar studies employ the use of a digital integrator for more accurate data.



The subject did report feeling " less tense" during competitions subsequent to the first few weeks of treatment. Table 1 shows how the subject rated her stress level, per event, prior to training and after training . Degree of perceived stress was rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing " lease stressful. "

Table 1 Subjective Stress Level Rating Before and After Treatment Degree of Stress Event

Before Treatment

After Treatment

2 7

1 4 6 3

Vault Bars Beam Floor



As depicted in Table 1, the subject's perceived level of stress decreased on each event from the outset to the conclusion of treatment. The most pronounced reductions were on bars and beam which caused S the greatest amount of stress at the beginning of treatment. The subject reported that when she experienced stress during the latter phases of treatment, the physiological symptoms "were the same but to a lesser degree" and occurred less frequently. Although EMG training appeared to be useful in the reduction of stress, the author is in concurrence with Kremsdorf, et. al. (1981 ) who propose that the use of biofeedback, per se, is only use-

ful in treating the symptoms of stress and it is the cognitive restructuring or coping strategies that permit inherently nonstressful stimuli to be viewed as nonthreatening . The ability to relax (reduction of muscle tension) in the face of impending threat requires appropriate cognitive strategies (Costa , et. al. , 1984 ; McAuley, 1982) as well as voluntary control over the symptoms of stress. Biofeedback allows the subject to develop increased awareness regarding individual physiological manifestations of the stress response so that appropriate cognitive strategies can be formulated to alleviate them (Budzynski and Stoyva, 1969) . The present study appeared to be successful in reducing the competitive stress of the subject involved.

References Budzynski , T . H. , & Stoyva, J . M . (1969) . An instrument for producing deep muscle relaxation by means of analog information feedback . Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2, 231-237. Connally, R. E. , Nelesen, R. A. , Dieter, J. N. & Uliano, K. (1983). Three recurring electromyographic biofeedback research problems and a laboratory model. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 57, 1059-1069. Costa, A. , Bonaccorsi , M. , & Srimali , T. ( 1984). Biofeedback and control of

anxiety preceding athletic competition . International Journal of Sport Psychology, 15, 98-109. Kremsdorf, R. B., Kochanowicz , N. A., & Costell, S. (1981 ). Cognitive skills training versus EMG biofeedback in the treatment of tension headaches . Biofeedback and Self-Regulation , Vol. 6, No. 1, 93-102. Loehr, J . (1980) . Athletic Excellence. Denver: Stanford Press. McAuley, E., & Rotella, R. (1982) . A cognitive behavioral approach to enhancing gymnastic performance . Motor Skills: Theory into Practice, Vol. 6, No. 2, 67-75. Meichenbaum , D. (1976) . Cognitive factors in biofeedback therapy. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation , Vol. 1, No. 2, 201-216. Nideffer, R. M. (1985) . Athletes' Guide to Mental Training. Champaign , Ill.: Human Kinetics Publishers , Inc . Orlick, T. (1980). In Pursuit of Excellence. Champaign , Ill.: Human . Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Thought Technology , Ltd. North Plattsburgh, New York. Weinberg , R. S. (1984) . Mental preparation strategies. Psycholog ical Foundations of Sport, 145-156.

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Tec hnique

Psychological Characteristics Of Junior Elite Female Gymnasts By Keith Henschen and Bill Sands (University of Utah) he 1984 Olympics evidenced an outstanding performance by both the United States men's and women's gymnastics teams. We should definitely be proud of and bask in the glory of these two tremendous efforts. But now that all the accolades have been despensed and received, it is time to reflect and initiate preparation for the next Olympiad. In reality, although the 1984 Olympic performance was excellent, the next Olympics will be much more difficult. It is highly likely that all of the Iron Curtain countries will be in attendance and provide much better competition than was in Los Angeles. If the World Championships in Montreal are any indication, we had better initiate preparation procedures immediately in order to be competitive in Seoul, Korea. If the young gymnasts representing the United States are to attain their full potentials, they must be provided not only the best technical training but also the finest psychological preparation. The psychological side of training has often been neglected in our country, but now seems to be widely accepted and often demanded by contemporary gymnasts. In an attempt to determine the psychological strengths and/ or weaknesses of Junior Elite Female Gymnasts, who have been identified as possible competitors during the next Olympics, this research project was undertaken . The primary thrust of this investigation was to provide information that would enhance the athletes' ability to perform.


Methods sychological data were collected from the females participants at the Junior National Championship held in September in Salt Lake City, Utah and data were again collected (from the same individuals) at the Junior Elite Training Camp in December, 1985 at Colorado Springs, Colorado. Data were obtained twice in order to determine the psychological differences between actual competition and training environments. The number of repeat performers (those at the national competition and at the training center) was N = 15. The battery of psychological instruments administered included the following: (1) the Achievement Motivation Scale (AM) - to assess success or avoidance failure



orientations; (2) the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS) - to assess self-concept; (3) the State - Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAl) - to assess various types of anxiety; (4) the Test of Attention and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) - to assess concentration styles; and (5) the Profile of Mood States (POMS) - to assess emotional states. These tests have all been proven to be scientifically valid and reliable and have also been used extensively in previously reported psychological research involving elite level athletes.

RESULTS The following table illustrates the results of the two testing periods (reported in means). TEST COMPETITION TRAINING Achievement Motivation (AM) Success Orientation 28.0 28.9 Avoiding Failure 17.1 15.5 Self-Concept (TSCS) 51 .3%ile Total score 43.6%ile Anxiety (STAl) 36.9 State 61.4 Trait 38.0 46.3 good, but can Attentional Style (TAIS) good be extremely overloaded Emotional States(POMS) Tension 50.0%ile 36.5%ile Depression 46.3%ile 33.6%ile Anger 46.8%ile 39.2%ile Vigor 55.9%ile 67.0%ile Fatigue 47.4%ile 59.2%ile Confusion 22.8%ile 44.4%ile

IDEAL 30 + 15 60%ile 35 35 good

40%ile 40%ile 40%ile 60%ile 40%ile 40%ile

,Jr E:lite AM, TSCS, STAI C:omp•ll i!ion -· Meq ns: Repeote rs 70 . -- -------- - ---- - - --- - --- ------- ------- - - -- -- - -- --- - ---











Com petjti1>11


Figure 1 illustrates the same data as the previous table but in pictorial form for the achievement motivation, selfconcept and anxiety tests. Figure 2 illustrates the data concerning the scores from TAIS (concentration) instrument.

Jr Elite Psych


Nt1tion11I Cht1mpionships &: Training C•Jmp

70 . ---- --- - -- -- - ---- - -------- ---- - - --- - -------- - ------- -65.


:"vf\V 60

v \

45 .

40 .


35 .

JO · ------- --- , ------ - ---r ---- ---- -- -- --- -- ---r - - -------B> .55 o


0 <.50 ~4 1rnr1 s

B> 60 T•~!Jl


0 <50

N> tiO


Co teg c·ries t

Idea l Boundari es

Cc· mparim>n "'"· Meqns : Repe•Jl:ers

100 . --- - ------------ -- ----- -------- - ---- - -------- - - - -- -- - -

90 . 80 .



20 . 10 .

0 · --- ------ - , -------- - - , ---- - ---- - r --- - ------ r --- - -- ----T < 45 !} <45 A <4.5 V > 60 F <4.5 C -"~ .5 C oh !~1 c ri es




hhml Bound .

Figure 3 demonstrates the gymnasts scores from both the training camp and the competition on the emotional states scale.

Discussion he most important question is "What does all of this psychological data tell us"? Additionally, how can this information be utilized to improve the performances of these gymnasts? Allow us to attempt to answer both of these questions. The testing results indicate that our junior elite female gymnasts are fairly success oriented in both training and competition situations. It is interesting to note though that these young competitors become more avoiding failure oriented during competition situations. In other words, these gymnasts become more conservative and tentative



during competition instead of relaxing and flowing with their performances. Coaches need to be aware of this fact and encourage the young ladies to approach competition with the same emotional set as they do training . Self-concept scores in both the training and competition realms are too low for elite level athletes. World class competitors normally demonstrate high above average selfconcepts. Our junior elite female gymnasts fail to do this. Coaches working with these young ladies need to utilize various programs devised for self-concept enhancement. Athletes who do not believe in themselves rarely perform well in difficult competitions. Self-concept is probably the most crucial psychological need of these junior elite female gymnasts. Anxiety scores demonstrated by these gymnasts were quite interesting. Anxiety scores indicated at the national competition were much lower than those revealed at the training camp. The reason for this is probably that at the nationals each gymnast was accompanied by her personal coach and possibly close family members, while at the training camp these same circumstances were not in evidence. Nevertheless, the anxiety scores, in both situations, were too high . Lowering anxiety scores should be another concern for coaches of these young athletes. Concentration scores indicated during training were excellent. Also, the concentration scores during competition were good except in the area of external overloading . This means that the gymnasts have good concentration skills generally, but can have trouble during important competition situations because of all the environmental distractions. The more things going on around them limits their abilities to concentrate on what they are doing. The assessment of mood states (POMS) also revealed some interesting results . The emotionality of the gymnasts during training appears to be fine except in one area fatigue . These young ladies indicate a much too high level of fatigue . This should tell coaches that their training schedules are too demanding physically for this age level of females. Or, another explanation might be that coaches are not allowing sufficient time for the athletes to "peak". Evidence of this is the fact that this high level of fatigue is also demonstrated in the competition situation. Complicating the fatigue issue is the high level of tension during competition. During important meets our junior elite females are tired and tense. No one competes well with this combination of psychological characteristics.

Conclusions f the United States is desirous of duplicating the result of the 1984 Olympics for its female gymnastics team in Seoul, Korea (1988), we had better initiate psychological training for our future competitors and their coaches immediately. Our young female gymnasts are not overly success oriented, are tense and fatigued during competition, and lack the self-concept necessary to be competitive in world competitions. These psychological problems will not improve by themselves . It is time the United States realizes that the Iron Curtain countries are developing psychologically and physically strong athletes, and that we must follow suit. Without this psychological training our gymnasts will be at a decided disadvantage. Success in future international competitions is greatly dependent upon providing the requisite psychological training.




May Class I Regionals (W) • Corbeil (R)

9-10 15-17



Third Regional Elite Meet (W) Sr. Elite Qualifying Meets (M)


1986-88 PROPOSED EVENT SCHEDULE (Dates & Events subject to change or cancellation) Updated November 7, 1986 1986


December Taipei Invitational (Jr. M)

10-15 8-15

Gym Masters (M/W) Tulit Peter (Jr. M)


5th International Rhythmic Lahti Junior Pan Am Games (M/W/R) Kraft International Tournament (M/W) Senior Mens Training Camp Sr. Women 's Training Camp (W~ Jr. Boys ational Testing & Training (M)

13-20 16-22 17-21 18-22 26Jan 5

3 21-23 24


7-8 7-8 12 13-22 20-21 27-28 28-29 TBA 3-5 4-12 10-11 11 12 24-26 24-25 25-26 25-26 25-26 27May 3 TBA TBA TBA

1987 January USA vs . Australia ~r. Boys) reat American Sports Spectacular Super Bowl Cup February Senior Men's Training Camp (M)


Taipei , Taiwan Belgium Kiskunhalas, Hungary Lahti, Finland Barquisimeto,


London, England West Point, NY Colorado Springs, CO Colorado Springs , CO

Colorado Springs, CO L.A. , California L.A. , California Colorado Springs, CO

March First Regional Elite Meet (W) Various Sites (TBA) McDonald 's American Cup Fairfax, Virginia (M/W) Norfolk, International Mixed Pairs Virginia (M/W) Australian Games (M/W/R) Melbourne , Australia Prague , Women's Day Cup (R) Czechoslovakia Avignon , Cup of the Popes (W) France Second Regional Elite Meet Various Sites (W) USSR Moscow/Riga April U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships Junior Training Camp (M)

American Classic Nationals (W) USA vs . South Korea (Jr.M) National Elite Clinic (W) NCAA National Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (W) Romania Cup (M/W)

Indianapolis, IN Colorado Springs , CO Boca Raton , FL Colorado Springs , CO Florida L.A., California TBA

Ploesti , Romania TBA Class I State Meets (W) USA/USSR Dual Competition Denver, CO (M/W) USA/USSR Friendship Tour Various Sites Japan *TBS Cup (M/W) TBA Champions All TBA • Hungary/Bul0aria Invitational (R


TBA Corbeil , France Various Sites (TBA) New Haven , CT Ohio State Madison, WI Los Angeles , CA

1986-89 PROPOSED SCHEDULE (Dates & Events subject to change or cancellation) Updated November 6, 1986

31 Aug 8


25-26 30Apr 2 14-16 22-23


3-4 24-26 24-25

April NCAA Big Eight Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (W)

24-24 Baton Rouge, LA 13-15 U. of Oklahoma Los Angeles , CA TBA

May Emerald Empire Cup Eugene , OR

9 9-11

June State of Indiana Special Olympics

South Bend , IN

March NCAA Big Eight Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (M) April NCAA National Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (W)

U. of Nebraska • Lincoln , NE



1987 February Mardi Gras lnvitational (M/W)

July International Summer South Bend , Special Olympics IN


March NCAA Big Eight Championships (M) April NCAA National Championships (M) NCAA National Championships (W)

Iowa State


• - Tentative Dates or Sites TBA - To Be Announced • • - Proposed Event M) - Men W) - Women R) - Rhythmic C) - Children J) - Junior S) - Senior

1987 Pan American Team Men's Selection Procedures The 1987 Men 's Pan American Team will be selected by the following procedure: The Championships of the USA, June 18-21, 1987 in Kansas City, Missouri will determine the 1987-88 National Team. These top 18 individuals will be considered for various competitive experiences and opportunities in the coming year. The top ten (10) will be chosen as the Pan American Training squad. This group will assemble in Colorado Springs on July 19, 1987 for the purpose of a training camp and team selection. July 20-23 will be training days. July 24-The first of two compulsory exercise intersquad competitions will be conducted at the Olympic Training Center Sports Center. July 25-The athletes will do promotional clinics and appearances at various clubs, schools, etc in and around Colorado Springs. July 26-29-Training days. July 30-Final intersquad competition-TEAM IS NAMED (Selection is based on 30 percent of optional score from Championships of USA and 70

percent of compulsory score from the combined average of the two intersquads held in Colorado Springs-July 24 and 30) Seven athletes are named. Six plus an alternate. The other athletes depart on August 1 for home. July 31-Athletes will do promotional clinics and appearances at various clubs, schools, etc in and around Colorado Springs. August 1-Pan American Team leaves for Indianapolis and Pan Am Village (Fort Benjamin Harrison). August 2-8-Training. August 9-10-0fficial Podium Training. August 11-Light training. August 12-Compulsory competition . August 13-Team optional competition. August 14-Rest day. August 15-All-Around competition (three per country maximum) . August 16-lndividual event finals competition (two per country maximum) August 17-Departure of mens competitors, judges, etc. 17


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Profile for USA Gymnastics

Technique Magazine - December 1986  

Technique Magazine - December 1986