Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Sports Biomechanics and Motor Control Research Group

Centre for Gymnastics Research

The Centre for Gymnastics Research aims to gain an understanding of the techniques used in gymnastics skills from a perspective of sports biomechanics and motor control research. Such investigations can explain, for example, how a twist may be introduced into a somersault after takeoff, can quantify the contributions of various twisting techniques to actual performances, and can determine the extent to which twisting somersaults can be controlled by means of in-flight corrections.

The articles accessible from this site via the university repository span research on gymnastics that has been undertaken at Loughborough University in collaboration with British Gymnastics since 1980. While the research questions are formulated from a scientific viewpoint, many of the results have direct application to the coaching and performance of gymnastics movements. Such applications are incorporated into the coach education programme of British Gymnastics and the International Gymnastics Federation.

While data on competitive performances provides essential information underpinning the research, many of the research questions can only be answered using computer simulation models. Over the past 30 years such models have been developed by PhD students to answer questions on twisting somersaults, swinging on rings, swinging on high bar, uneven bars and parallel bars, vaulting and tumbling. Many of these have involved optimisation studies which, more recently, have incorporated requirements of performance consistency which take into account the variability inherent within human performance. This has lead to insights into the motor control of skilled performance.

Specific areas

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Research sponsors include:

British Gymnastics
Loughborough University
International Olympic Committee Medical Commission
The Sports Council
Science and Engineering Research Council
Sport Canada

The Centre for Gymnastics Research is physically located within The EIS National Gymnastics Performance and Research Centre at Loughborough University.

The Director of the Centre for Gymnastics Research is Dr Michael Hiley.

BSC Honours Sport and Exercise Science Degree (Gymnastics)

A Gymnastics Pathway within the BSc Honours Sport and Exercise Science degree has been introduced within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough University as of October 2008.  This degree pathway provides an appropriate scientific background underpinning the sports science of gymnastics together with a number of modules focused specifically on aspects of gymnastics.  These include a researchproject on gymnastics and a taught module on the applications of gymnastics research to coaching.  Students registered on this pathway will have an opportunity to advance their coaching qualifications in parallel with the degree.  This will result in graduates who are also qualified coaches and will benefit the future development of gymnastics in the UK.

Students with a gymnastics background who are interested in taking the BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences (Gymnastics) degree at Loughborough University should contact Dr Michael Hiley  by emailing M.J.Hiley@lboro.ac.uk