Gymnastics is on Extremely difficult sport, and not extreme for Olympic athletes like five-time (so far) medalist Simon Bills. Physics is also quite challenging. Let’s feel something simple, like flip.
Women’s gymnastics All four events will have some version of the flip: floor, bar, vault and beam. It is one of the two types of rotation that make up the middle of an exercise. Physically, a flip is a head-to-foot rotation about an imaginary axis that runs from a gymnast’s hips. For the second type of rotation, imagine a turn, an axis that runs from their head to their feet.
Maybe it’s just easier to see them. These two animations were created in Python. (You can see the code here and here.)
A gym can actually do both of these types of rotations at the same time – which makes the game very interesting to watch. In physics, we would call this type of movement “rigid body rotation.” But, frankly, humans are not rigid, so the math to describe a rotation like this can be quite complex. For breeding sake, let’s limit our discussion to just flips.
There are three types of flips. There is a layout in which the gymnast keeps his body in an upright position. There is a pike, in which they turn at a 90-degree angle to the hips. Finally, there is a tuck, knees pulling towards the chest.
What is the difference in terms of physics?
Moment of rotation and inertia
If you want to understand the physics of rotation, you need to consider the moment of inertia. I know it’s a weird-sounding word. Let’s start with the example associated with boats. (Yes, boat.)
Suppose you are standing on a dock next to a small one that is floating there right now, and it is not bound, what happens if you put your foot on the boat and push it? Yes, the boat moves away – but it does something else. So the boat Speed It moves away. This change in speed is an acceleration.