By: Abby Berg

Essential Question:
How do gymnasts use science when they are vaulting?

While vaulting, you may wonder how gymnasts are able to get so high in the air...
It takes fast speed, a lot of momentum, Newton's third law of motion: With every action there is and equal and opposite reaction, and many other forces. But there are also things that make this very difficult, like inertia.

external image LuHuangJimMcIsaacGETTY52247716.JPGYou start off a vault by sprinting as fast as you can down the runway. Your speed is the key to the whole vault. The faster you go, the more force you will have against the springboard. This will also launch you much higher into the air. As your speed increases, so does your momentum. The faster you go, the more momentum you will have when you jump onto the springboard. Your momentum determines how hard you will hit the springboard. When your hands or feet (depending on what type of vault you are doing) hits the springboard, the action/reaction force takes place. The springs under the springboard contract when you hit it at full force, then jolts you back up into the air. Another action/reaction force takes place when your hands hit the vault. There is so much force from your body hitting the springboard that you need to have good control over your arms when they reach the vault. Your shoulder muscles push your body back up into the air, which brings you to the ending of your vault. It is very difficult to try and "stick" your landing, because inertia is taking place. Your body has so much force on it when you are landing, yet you want to try and stop it all at one time. This is very difficult to do because of inertia. Inertia wants your body to keep going but you want to try and stop, without moving your feet. If you can beat the force of inertia, your vault will be great. As you can see, while vaulting there are a lot of forces acting upon you. You are trying to get as high in the air as possible, but the force of gravity is always pulling you down. This is why it is so important to get your speed very fast and your height off the springboard really high... because then you have more time in the air to complete your trick.

Gymnasts make vaulting look so easy, but now that you know all of the science that goes into it, you can see that it is actually very difficult.
Click the link below to see a great vault.

Bibliography: Gymnastics Gymnastics Vaulting- World of Sports Science Cheng Fei 2005 Worlds First Vault