Trampolining is a breathtaking sport in which athletes perform a series of twisting somersaults and acrobatic skills at great height. As well as being a popular Olympic sport in its own right, trampolining 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. So if you're curious about this sport, here's a little background and a few fun facts.
History of Trampolining
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. However, others claim it gets its name from the Spanish word for diving board: el trampolin.
In the mid-1930s, George Nissen, an American gymnast and inventor, and Larry Griswold, his coach, 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 are made from a metal frame that supports a spring bed, which is made from woven nylon and is just 1/4-inch thick. It's supported by 118 to 126 steel springs and measures 16 feet, 6 inches, by 9 feet, 6 inches.
Read more: How to Choose a Trampoline
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 consecutive skills, of which eight are judged, and an optional sequence with 10 different skills, all of which are judged. Both routines are judged and the scores are added together to give an overall score.
Health 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., including more than 100,000 emergency room visits, as a result of recreational trampolining.
It's advisable to participate in trampolining only under qualified supervision and to not attempt somersaults or other aerial skills without the guidance of a qualified coach.
In organized competition, there are strict guidelines surrounding safety of trampolining. Large mats, referred to as the "safety platform," are required to be placed on both sides of the trampoline and on the floor, 6 feet, 6 inches, from the trampoline.
- British Olympic Association: Trampolining
- International Gymnastics Federation: Trampolining
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Trampolining Safety
- Rebound-Aerobics: NASA Report About Exercise on Rebounder Mini Trampolines
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Trampoline Safety
- NBC Olympics Trampoline 101: Equipment
- NBC Olympics: Trampoline 101: Competition format
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Orthopaedic surgeons warn parents and young children about the dangers of trampolines
- Olympics.org: Trampoline Equipment and History