Spatial orientation skills of gymnasts have been investigated in the past, but their navigation skills have not
been well described. For instance, little is known on their performance on triangle completion in the absence of vision.
The question is whether gymnasts require less attention than non-gymnasts in executing this task. The aims were to study
the impact of dual-task on triangle completion performance and reaction time, and to compare this effect in young adults
with or without a gymnastic background. Participants were blindfolded and guided along the first two legs of a 5x5 m
right angle triangle and then, independently turned and walked towards the origin of this triangle. After they had stopped,
their foot position was marked on the floor and angular deviation and linear distance traveled were measured. In the dualtask,
reaction time was gathered during the independent walk with participants responding verbally ‘top’ as fast as
possible after a sound signal. Gymnasts were found to have smaller angular deviation and longer linear distance traveled
than non-gymnasts. Both groups showed longer reaction time in dual-task compared to baseline in sitting and this increase
was similar for both groups. The results suggest that gymnastics training improves the perception and control of direction.
However, it does not modify perception of linear displacement, nor the attention required to execute the triangle
completion task. In dual-task, other cognitive tasks requiring working memory might have had a larger impact on both
navigation errors and cognitive task performance.