Central European Journal of Sport Sciences and Medicine (Jan 2014)

Short communication: directing Cheerleader’s Gaze Influences Motor Behaviour in Somersaults

  • Thomas Heinen,
  • Hannah Vollmer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7


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Eye, head, and body movements are thought to be functionally coupled in the performance of complex skills, such as somersaults with and without twists (Davlin et al. 2001; von Laßberg et al. 2014). Directing the gaze to specific locations in the environment during the takeoff phase in somersaults could influence takeoff kinematics and, as a consequence, the subsequent flight phase. The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between gaze direction during takeoff and the corresponding movement kinematics when performing backward somersaults in cheerleading. N = 11 cheerleaders performed standing backward somersaults in three experimental conditions (straight gaze direction, elevated gaze direction, depressed gaze direction). Results revealed that cheerleaders exhibited a larger hip angle during takeoff and longer flight duration of the somersaults when their gaze was elevated during the takeoff phase, thereby supporting the notion that a functional coupling seems to operate between gaze behaviour and motor behaviour in cheerleading. In daily practice, cheerleaders could try to focus their gaze on a point on the wall in front of them during the takeoff phase in somersaults in order to facilitate the development of a functional coupling between gaze behavior and motor behavior.