Central European Journal of Sport Sciences and Medicine (2014-01-01)

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

  • Thomas Heinen,
  • Hannah Vollmer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7

Abstract

Read online

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.

Keywords