EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Research article
Volumen 5, No. 2, 2013,
5-10
UDC: 796.41-055.25:796.012.1
JUMPING ABILITIES IN YOUNG FEMALE GYMNASTS:
AGE-GROUP DIFFERENCES
Aleksandra Aleksić-Veljković*, Dejan Madić, Mila Vukadinović
Faculty of Sport and physical education, Novi Sad, Serbia
Katarina Herodek
Faculty of Sport and physical education, Niš, Serbia
Kamenka Živčić Marković, Aida Badić
Faculty of Kinesiology University of Zagreb, Zagreb
Abstract
The aim of the study was to give more informations about jumping abilities of young
female gymnasts. We examine age-related differences in some variables of counter-movement
jump (CMJ) and counter-movement jump with arm swing (CMJA), between two age categories
of young female gymnasts (n=47) and also reliability of testing vertical jump in gymnasts. The
study was conducted on an international competition. Our research has shown that age-related
differences were observed only in height of the jumps, but not in power output of both jumps and
displacement of depth of body’s center of gravity. Jumping capabilities are crucial in gymnastics
in all levels of competitions and in all categories of gymnasts. Testing and periodical monitoring
of young athletes’ abilities are important for defining the training programmes adapted to the
needs of gymnastics and the age of the gymnasts.
Keywords: Artistic gymnastics, explosive leg power, counter-movement jump.
Introduction
It is known that high intensity of exercise and dedication to training in the youngest age
group in artistic gymnastics is higher than in most sports for young people (Carrick et al., 2007).
In order to reach their goals elite gymnasts have training twice a day, six days a week, so that the
average number of hours per week is between
27-33
(Kums, 2008). The uniqueness of
gymnastics is reflected in the fact that it closes to the art, not only because of its technology, but
also because of the precision of movement, expression and artistry, musicality and choreography
(Theodoropolou et al., 2005; Kums, 2008).
As a basic sport, artistic gymnastics affects development of motor skills: strength,
coordination, flexibility and balance (Arruda and Farinatti, 2007, Carrick et al., 2007). In terms of
coordination, gymnastic elements are the most complex movement. Testing and periodical
monitoring of young athletes’ abilities is important to define the training programme adapted to
* Coresponding author: Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Lovcenska 16, 21000 Novi
Sad, Serbia, Phone: +381 63 443 294, Fax: +381 21 450 199, E-mail: axy.gym@gmail.com
© 2013 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
5
A. Aleksić-Veljković et al.
the needs of gymnastics and the gymnasts’ age. In this way we could achieve a harmonious and
healthy development of fundamental motor skills in accordance with the physical development of
athletes (Ricotti, 2011).
Specifics of the athletes in sports disciplines are the result of selection and on the other
side of the specific effects of activities that discipline creates (Čuk et al., 2007). Gymnastics
requires explosive sprinting, jumping, pushing and pulling skills, together with balance and
artistry. On the vault, balance beam and floor, explosive leg power plays an important role in
connecting elements and acrobatic series. Bouncing is one of the most important movements in
floor and vault routines and is acquired by gymnasts at a very early age as part of their daily
training routines (Marina et al., 2013).
Height of the vaults, jumps and acrobatic elements are one of the most important
components of technical requirements for successful execution of gymnastics elements. The
ability to develop enhanced levels of muscular power is reflected by the potential to perform
more advanced skills and acrobatics (French et al., 2004). Gymnasts’ ability to transmit their
impulse from their feet to their upper bodies following rebounds is crucial, allowing acrobatic
skills such as somersaulting and twisting (Mkaouer et al., 2012).
Countermovement jump contains an eccentric and a concentric phase that constitute a
stretch-shortening cycle and they are associated with many dynamic movements, including
running, bounding, and tumbling, and depend both on contractile elements and elastic properties
of the muscle and connective tissue (Kinser et al., 2007; Bosco et al., 1982). In Women’s Artistic
Gymnastics, according to the latest updates of Code of points (2013-2016), timing in connections
of the two elements is very important for recognition of connection, in order to get points for
connection values. At the beginning of Olympic cycle arm swing wasn′t allowed between
elements (for example, connections of jumps), but FIG recognized that this rule leads to errors in
technique and affects performance quality, so they allowed the arms to be used as active
components of the whole mechanical chain during movement.
So far in the literature, the authors have described significant differences in jumping
abilities between trained and untrained subjects (Kums et al., 2005; Sterkowicz et al., 2011), non-
elite and elite athletes, subjects of different ages (Smith et al., 1992; Marina and Torrado, 2013),
or cadets, juniors and seniors (Buśko et al., 2012). The aim of our study was to access differences
in chosen variables of counter-movement jumps without (CMJ) and with arm swing (CMJA), in
young female gymnasts.
Methods
In this study participated 47 young female gymnasts from two age groups, according to
the propositions of competition that they participated in. The first group consisted of gymnasts
from 8 to 10 years old, (n=24; height: 135.98±7.27 cm; body mass: 30.63±4.16 kg) and the
second, gymnasts from 11 to 13 years old (n=23; height: 150.07±7.99; body mass: 40.76±8.12
kg). The age-groups were formed according to the rules of competition and subjects were from
seven European countries.The subjects were informed about the scope and protocol of the study,
and of the possibility to withdraw from the study at any moment. All parents and coaches
submitted their written consent for participating of gymnasts according to Helsinki Declaration.
The study was granted approval of the Research Ethics Committee.
The vertical jump tests (counter-movement jump and counter-movement jump with arm
swing) were performed on a force plate Kistler Quattro Jump (9290AD), according the protocols
described by Bosco (1992) and the criteria for correct trials of jumps were proposed by Acero et
al. (2011). Each subject performed six vertical jumps with maximal force on the force plate: three
counter-movement jumps (CMJ) and three counter-movement jump with arms swing (CMJA).
There were between one and two minute breaks between the jumps. Gymnasts were barefoot in
6
Jumping abilities in young female gymnasts
gymnastics leotards. The jump with the highest elevation of the body center of gravity was
chosen for statistical analysis. The investigated parameters were: SVIS - height of the jump
without arms swing, DPTT - the depth of displacement of the center of gravity, SNKG - relative
power, ZVIS - height of the jump with arms swing, ZPTT - the depth of displacement of the
center of gravity in jump with arm swing, ZNKG - relative power of the jump with arm swing.
For statistical analysis of the data, software SPSS version 20 was used. Descriptive
statistics and reliability of testing for all variables were calculated. The jump height, relative
power and depth of body center of gravity displacement for both protocol were compared
between groups by using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The criterion for establishing
statistical significance was P < 0.05.
Results
Table 1 and 2 show descriptive statistics, normality of distribution and reliability of testing
younger category of gymnasts. Table 3 shows two (groups) x two (sessions) x three (trials)
ANOVA of repeated measures.
Table 1. Descriptve statistics, normality of distribution and reliability of countermovement jump
N Min. Max. Mean SD Skew. Kurt.
Z Sig. Cronbach’ α ICC CV (%)
.501
.963
.941
.842
10.94
SVIS
24
26.10
38.10
32.37
3.54
-.126
-1.012
.965
.309
.841
.573
23.89
DPTT 24 11.87
28.67
18.21
4.35
1.090
.786
.494
.968
.850
.654
11.33
SNKG 24 15.93 26.87 22.25 2.52
-.558
.666
.654
.786
.929
.814
9.22
ZVIS
24
30.70
45.23
39.90
3.68
-.726
.231
.564
.908
.948
.859
27.03
ZPTT
24
11.27
28.73
18.72
5.06
.168
-.956
.729
.662
.904
.758
22.00
ZNKG 24 16.47 33.10 23.95 5.27
.115
-1.374
Table 2. Descriptve statistics, normality of distribution and reliability of countermovement jump
Cronbach’
CV
ICC
Var. N Min. Max. Mean SD Skew. Kurt.
Z Sig.
α
(%)
12.57
SVIS
23
29.33
46.63
37.15
4.67
.464
-.460
.579
.891
.958
.883
18.07
DPTT 23 13.87 28.73 20.03
3.62
.474
.041
.588
.880
.766
.521
15.70
SNKG 23 16.50 31.03 23.69 3.72
.315
-.609
.835
.488
.898
.746
12.64
ZVIS
23
35.57
56.57
46.27
5.85
.337
-.965
.705
.703
.953
.870
26.72
ZPTT
23
7.80
28.90
17.74
4.74
.214
.294
.471
.980
.929
.813
27.80
ZNKG 23 13.13 36.47 24.39 6.78
.320
-.964
.702
.707
.918
.788
Before any analysis we determined variability and normality of distribution. All investigated
parameters showed normal distribution (table 1 and 2), but there was a great variability among
them. Variability between subjects is shown by the coefficient of variation
(CV) and this
coefficient was great in both groups of the gymnasts. These results could be consequences of the
7
A. Aleksić-Veljković et al.
differences between gymnasts from different countries. Inspite of competing in the same
category, their level of performance and quality was different. Jump reliability reported in our
study (9-28%) is higher then it was in previous researches. Marina & Torrado (2012) reported
reliability from 1.57 to 2.35% in the group of fifty young female gymnasts, 8.84±0.62 years old.
Table 3. Two (groups) x two (sessions) x three (trials) ANOVA of repeated measures
Var. Type III Sum of Squares
df
Mean Square
F Sig. Partial Eta Squared
SVIS
25.690
1.872
13.723
5.184
.009
.103
DPTT
191.103
1.923
99.368
9.273
.000
.171
SNKG
4.589
1.964
2.336
.651
.521
.014
SNTS
.104
1.934
.054
.784
.456
.017
ZVIS
9.897
1.658
5.970
1.285
.279
.028
ZPTT
2.489
1.933
1.288
.284
.746
.006
ZNKG
38.525
1.927
19.997
1.995
.144
.042
The results of our study showed that the height of the jump without and with arms swing
was significantly different in Category I and II (p<.05), but not in other parameters of the vertical
jumps (table
3). These results suggest that while doing the analysis we can’t take in to
consideration only one parameter. Better results in older gymnasts are consequence of training
experience and also larger fund of acrobatic elements. Age-related differences were not found in
other parameters. The results of the study are different than those the two studies where the
authors didn′t find differences in jump height between three groups of athletes (Buśko et al.,
2012; Gerodimos et al., 2008). The differences could be result of the sport disciplines. Bencke et
al. (2002) found that gymnasts had most explosive muscular performance of all participants in
their study (handball players, tennis players and swimmers). The elite gymnasts (advanced level,
mean age 11.8 years) were more explosive than the non-elite gymnasts (intermediate level)
indicating that jumping capabilities are crucial for gymnastics performance.
Further, French et al. (2004) suggested that the ability to develop improved levels of
muscular power was reflected by the potential to perform more advanced elements and
acrobatics. Powers & Howley (2007) reported an estimation of the used energy systems in
gymnastics. Gymnasts seem to have a predominant anaerobic energy system.
Disscusion and conclusion
Vertical jumps are used in plenty of sports. Their primary goal is usually to reach the
greatest possible height (Psycharakis, 2006). Other goals could also include rotation in acrobatic
somersaulting. Gymnasts’ jumping ability is often linked to successful performance (especially in
floor routines, balance beam and vault) and is sometimes considered an overall indicator of
gymnast’s proficiency. Gymnastics’ performance is largely defined by the ability to successfully
perform complex forward and backward rotating skills (Mkaouer et al., 2012). If a gymnast is not
successful doing an acrobatic jump, the problem could be either related to jumping capacity, the
specific technique and coordination of the movement, or both (Marina & Torrado, 2013).
Kums et al. (2005) concluded that young elite female rhythmic gymnasts demonstrated a
markedly greater ability to use the potentiating effect of stretch-shortening cycle to vertical
jumping performance compere to the control subjects during drop jumps, but not during counter-
movement jump. The rhythmic gymnasts produced greater mechanical power during repetitive
maximal jumping exercise, but fatigued faster than controls. Temfemo et al. (2009) compared
vertical jumping performances in boys and girls during growth. The maximum heights was
attained in a counter-movement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ). Height, LMV, and body mass
8
Jumping abilities in young female gymnasts
values were larger in boys than girls aged 14 years. Both groups had a similar body mass index
independently of age. The CMJ-SJ decreased with increasing age in both groups without
significant differences. Authors concluded that jumping performance increases during growth,
with gender differences manifesting from the age of 14 onwards due to much greater increase in
leg length and LMV in boys than in girls.
Jumping capabilities are crucial in gymnastics in all levels of competitions and in all
categories of gymnasts. There is a lack of investigations in the categories of the young gymnasts
that are already competing on the international level. These gymnasts are already selected as
talented in their countries and can be seen as future representatives of their countries at major
competitions. Monitoring and periodically testing is very important in order to achieve good
results, especially in young categories which are considered to be the period of the investment for
results in senior category.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank the Serbian Ministry of Education and Science for
financing the project Biomechanical Efficiency of the Elite Serbian Athletes, OI 179019. We
would also like to thank the international athletes who participated in this project and Gymnastics
Federation of Serbia for their support.
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