From Academic Kids

For an alternative meaning, see Trampoline (computers) or Trampoline_(multihulls).
For more information on the gymastic sport, see Trampolining.

A trampoline is a gymnastic and recreational device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched over a steel frame using many coiled springs as anchors.

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A youth at the peak of his jump on a home trampoline.



Walrus skins

It has been said that the first type of trampolining was done by the Eskimos who used to toss each other up into the air on a Walrus skin something like the sheet used by firemen to catch people jumping out of the windows of houses which were on fire.

There also is some evidence of people in England being tossed up into the air by a number of people holding a blanket. These may or may not be the true origins of the sport of trampolining but it is certain that in the early years of the 20th century there were stage acts which used a "bouncing bed" on the stage to amuse audiences. The bouncing bed was in reality a form of small trampoline covered by bedclothes on which the acrobats performed mostly comedy routines.

Trapeze artistes

The trampoline itself, according to circus lore, was supposedly first developed by an artiste called Du Trampolin who saw the possibility of using the trapeze safety net as a form of propulsion and landing device and experimented with different systems of suspension, eventually reducing the net to a practical size for separate performance. While there were trampoline like devices used for shows and in the circus, the story of Du Trampolin is probably a myth and no documentary evidence has been found to support this.

The first purpose built modern trampoline was built by George Nissen and Larry Griswold around 1934. Nissen was a gymnastics and diving competitor and Griswold was a tumbler on the gymnastics team, both at the University of Iowa, USA. They had observed trapeze artists using a tight net to add entertainment value to their performance and experimented by stretching a piece of canvas, in which they had inserted grommets along each side, to an angle iron frame by means of coiled springs. It was initially used to train tumblers but soon became popular in its own right. The name comes from the Spanish trampolín meaning a diving board. George Nissen heard the word on a demonstration tour in Mexico in the late 1930s and decided to use an anglicized form as the trademark for the apparatus.

In 1942 Griswold and Nissen created the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company, and begun making trampolines commercially in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

World War II

During World War II, the United States Navy Flight School developed the use of the trampoline in its training of pilots and navigators, giving them concentrated practice in orientation such as had never been possible before. After the war, the development of the space flight programme again brought the trampoline into use to help train both American and Soviet Astronauts, giving them experience of variable body positions in flight.

A competitive gymnastic sport of trampolining has been developed and it has been part of the Olympic Games since 2000. On a competitive trampoline a user can bounce to a height of up to ten metres. Trampolines feature in the competitive sport of trampolining as well as in Slamball, a variant of basketball.

Trampoline Construction

There are two types of trampoline, recreational and competitive. Recreational trampolines are less sturdily constructed and their springs are usually less strong. They may be of various shapes, though the most usual are circular, octagonal or rectangular. The fabric is usually a waterproof canvas material.

The frame of a competitive trampoline is made of steel and can be made to fold up for transportation to competition venues. The trampoline is rectangular 14 feet by 7 feet in size. The bed is made of a strong fabric. The fabric can be woven from individual thin strings as in a Ross bed or from webbing. The fabric bed is not elastic itself, the elasticity is provided only by the springs.


Bouncing off a trampoline can result in a fall of three or four metres from the peak of a bounce to the ground or a fall into the suspension springs and frame. The first major safety change was adding pads to cover the springs, frame and any open spaces between the frame and cloth platform. While trampolines in gyms are usually surrounded by thick pads and spotters, who are instructed to face the jumper and be ready to prevent falls, injuries still occur but these are rare. On private home trampolines, serious accidents continue to occur with regrettable frequency. Most home trampolines are surrounded only by hard earth and young jumpers are often not supervised.

Recently kits have been sold for home trampolines that form a net wall around the trampoline and prevent users from bouncing over the edge. Some consider that these nets do not offer any significant improvement in safety as jumpers can be entangled or stopped from landing on their feet by impacting the net.

During competitions, spotters are placed at each corner of the trampoline, they are expected to try and break the fall of any athlete who falls off the side of the trampoline. The ends of a competitive trampoline are fitted with padded end decks as this is the most likely place for an athlete to land if they come off the bed.

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