Motor Control

Document Type



The goal of a handstand, a fundamental skill in gymnastics, is to maintain a balanced stance by controlling center of mass (COM) position. Successful handstands predominantly use wrist torque to control the COM in the anterior-posterior (AP) plane. The aim of this study was to determine the underlying motor control mechanisms necessary to maintain a strong handstand stance through analysis of joint angle and COM position variability. Full body 3D kinematic data were collected on three competitive level gymnasts during 30 s floor handstands. Variability of joint angles were consistently higher than the center of mass, demonstrating that joints self-organize in a motor control strategy to produce torques in order to control the COM. Using multiple linear regression analysis, it was found that shoulder flexion/extension variability was the largest contributor to controlling the COM in both the medio-lateral (ML) and AP planes.