Factors discriminating gymnasts by competitive level
Vandorpe, B × Vandendriessche, J Vaeyens, R Pion, J Lefevre, Johan Philippaerts, R Lenoir, M #
International Journal of Sports Medicine vol:32 issue:8 pages:591-7
This study examined the relationship between the performance level as evaluated by expert coaches and the results on a multidimensional test battery in female gymnastics. 4 coaches assigned 168 female gymnasts aged 6-8 years into 2 groups (Elite-level potential, n=103 and Sub-elite-level potential, n=65) based upon their technical evaluation of the gymnastics abilities on the 4 apparatus. Moreover, anthropometric, physical and coordinative characteristics were assessed. ANOVA with age as fixed factor revealed that results on all aforementioned characteristics, except body fat%, sit-and-reach, rope climbing and a motor coordination test, significantly improved with increasing age. MANCOVA with competitive level as fixed factor and age and maturity as covariates indicated that all gymnasts portrayed a similar athletic built (Wilks' lambda=0.95, F=2.20, p=0.071), but the elite-level potential gymnasts outperformed the less gifted gymnasts on all physical (Wilks' lambda=0.65, F=8.00, p<0.001) and coordinative variables (Wilks' lambda=0.79, F=22.10, p<0.001). Discriminant analysis revealed motor coordination to be the most important factor in discriminating between young female elite and sub-elite gymnasts. A test battery measuring multidimensional performance characteristics is valuable in addition to the coaches' technical judgment in the search of young gifted female gymnasts.