Trampolining is a breathtaking sport where athletes perform a series of multiple twisting somersaults and acrobatic skills at great height. As well as being a popular Olympic sport in its own right, it is a tool regularly used by gymnasts, divers and skiers to improve aerial techniques. Over the past decade, it has also become one of the most popular backyard activities and is a fun way to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.
The trampoline supposedly gets its name from a circus acrobat, Du Trampolin, who realized that trapeze safety nets could be used independently for rebound in stunts in the 1800s. But others claim it gets its name from the Spanish word for diving board: el trampolin. In the 1930s, George Nissen, an American gymnast and inventor, produced a trampoline similar to the one still used today. Post-World War II, during the 1940s trampolining became a competitive sport in America, later spreading to Europe. The first World Championships were held in London in 1964, and trampolining was first recognized as an Olympic sport at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Trampolines can vary in structure from the recreational backyard trampoline to Olympic standard competitive apparatus. Recreational trampolines used at home are generally circular and less sturdy than competitive apparatus. The mat is made from waterproof woven polypropylene to withstand being kept outdoors. Competitive trampolines have to be certified by the International Gymnastics Federation and meet the Apparatus Norms set out in the Code of Points. They measure approximately 14 feet by 7 feet in size and the web, whose size can vary from 6mm x 6mm to 25mm x 25mm, is made from strong woven canvas attached to approximately 120 springs and suspended from a steel frame.
Since the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, trampolining has been an Olympic sport. At the Olympics, trampolinists compete in the individual event. At other competitions, athletes can also compete as pairs in the synchronized event. At the Olympics, men and women perform a compulsory routine consisting of 10 elements and an optional sequence with 10 different skills. Both routines are judged and the scores are added together to give an overall score.
Benefits of Trampolining
As well as being fun, bouncing on a trampoline has many health and well-being benefits. Regular bouncing on a trampoline can increase your body's ability to burn calories and speeds up your metabolic rate. A study by NASA found that 10 minutes of trampoline exercise is a better cardiovascular workout than 33 minutes of running. The increased endorphins produced while bouncing also help combat depression, anxiety and stress.
In recent years, there has been researched carried out on the safety of using trampolines at home. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are nearly 300,000 trampoline-related injuries every year in the U.S. as a result of recreational trampolining. It is advisable to participate in trampolining only under qualified supervision and to not attempt somersaults or other areal skills without the guidance of a qualified coach. In organized competition, there are strict guidelines surrounding safety of trampolining. The British Olympic Association states that to ensure safety of competitors, "large and thick mats are situated on both sides of the trampoline and also on the floor, two meters around it."