elite female gymnasts are small

Zhang.jpegZhang Nan, China, 147.5cm (4.8ft), 38kg (83.8lb)

Small, light athletes have a huge advantage in acrobatic sports.

This is wonderful for those kids. (They certainly aren’t getting selected for basketball at school.)

Some female World and Olympic competitors weigh as little as 70-80 pounds (31-36kg). These young women are tiny, though the average height and weight must be increasing as difficulty becomes more important relative to artistry.

A study focusing on talent selection included these points of interest:

  • Girls who are naturally small in structure and slim have a greater chance of being a good performer.

  • Although bigger gymnasts also had stronger legs, this did not help them to outperform the smaller more agile gymnasts. Hence it may be that a small structure is a better predictor to good performance than being strong.

  • Gymnasts who had a high strength to weight ratio also produced high levels of performance. Therefore, strength is only a relevant predictor of good performance if it is considered closely with body mass. This was particularly obvious in skills where there was less technique involved. The results indicate that as the skill became more technical (ie the back salto) girls with good technique could outperform those with a high strength : weight ratio.

  • …a gymnast twists she needs her body to be as narrow as possible to permit speedy (twisting).

  • Talent Identification in Elite Gymnasts: Why Body Size is so Important – Joanne Richards – Western Australian Institute of Sport Gymnastics

    Published by

    Rick Mc

    Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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