The Physics of Simone Biles

by Emme DeMilt

As most of us know the unbeatable Simone Biles is one of the best gymnasts in the world. But how does she do her gravity-defying skills? Is she actually defying gravity? The answer is no. Just because her skills seem to defy gravity, the real reason behind it is science and physics.

Biles signature move is “The Biles”. This skill includes a position while flipping called a layout. In a layout, you have to maintain a completely straight outstretched position. This flip is very unstable and uses a lot of muscle. Simone Biles has a lot of muscle, and because of that has an outstanding layout position. And not only is it amazing enough that she can do one layout she does two in a row with a half twist. To make it even more outstanding she lands this without being able to see the ground. A blind-landing. There is another variation of it with a laborious full twist. She is pushing the edges of physics every time she does this tumbling pass. The layout in the earlier 1950s was something only men could do. Women’s gymnastics was a team sport that looked like something you would do in an elderly yoga class. But since then the layout has had many variations added to it. From rotations to even a second flip. As difficult as the layouts may come Bile’s can perfect them with physics and logic.

Let’s go back to the double layout half twist tumbling that Biles does. Her powerful jump out of the back handspring powers the layouts and twist. The short and strong Biles can jump high with lots of momentum and power because of strength and height. The small space of the floor makes it hard to run fast. But on longer spring floors, if gymnasts get enough power, they can do triple flips and layouts. The surface needs to be VERY long as of right now though.  But back to Biles. Her flip is rotating very fast. So the hardest part is the twist. When she bends her arm in breaks the symmetry of her body for the twist. In recent years, gymnasts have done double layouts with double twists. This move may work its way into the Olympics.

But what is the next move? Maybe if gymnasts start spinning sooner there could be multiple flips. And even with the physical limits being pushed to the edge for one tumbling pass, routines can get even harder. The unbeatable Simone Biles could eventually become beatable with harder skills. Could you be the next Biles?

Categories: Sports

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