17.03.2021 - Jumping on a trampoline is tons of fun and safe when safety guidelines are adhered to. In addition to all the health benefits that it’s known for, rebounding makes you feel easy and relaxed. That’s probably because it engages your entire musculature at once.But have you ever wondered how far trampoline exercises extend? Put differently, is trampoline a sport? We figured out you’d ask this question. Lucky for you, we’ve dug around and found cool Olympic trampoline facts that might interest you!
History of Trampolining Sport
Trampolining may be considered among the latest entrants in the Olympic games. Trampoline first appeared in the Olympics in 2000 during the Millennium Olympic Games in Sydney.
Its late entrance into the Olympic program does not mean that it’s a new type of sport, though. Archaeological drawings show that the concept of trampolines existed in ancient Egypt, China, and Persia (modern-day Iran) thousands of years ago. It’s not clear how these rudimentary rebounding devices were used. But it’s evident that human beings have fancied the idea of being tossed in the air for time immemorial.
Recent research findings show evidence of a trampoline-like game in Alaska in the 1920s. This game was called Inuit and involved several people throwing a person into the air using walrus skin.
Differences between Olympic and Regular Trampolines
With the inclusion of trampoline Olympic sport among the most popular games in the sports industry, it's common to wonder whether Olympians use regular trampolines. The answer is no.
To a larger extent, trampolining sports trampolines and regular recreation trampolines are engineered with the same concept in mind. But as you can expect, the best trampoline for the Olympics is designed to withstand the game's intensity from scratch.
As you may have realized, rectangle trampoline is the most preferred shape in most gymnastics competitions. The significant reason why rectangular trampolines are used in competitions is their expressive bounce, which is much higher than their oval and round alternatives. Secondly, this shape provides an added advantage of maximizing space.
Besides the shape differences, here are other ways in which an Olympic trampoline differs from the rebounder in your backyard;
i) Size- while most large regular trampolines are in the range of 14ft-15ft, rectangular trampolines for Olympics and gymnastics are usually 10ft by 17ft.
ii) Price- if you're planning to purchase an Olympic trampoline for your practices, be ready to part with $4000-$5000. For the record, an Olympics trampoline mat alone may cost 2x (sometimes 3x) the price of the best regular trampolines.
iii) Usage- most Olympic trampolines are designed for indoor use. It's possible to use them outdoors. But this may lead to costly maintenance, such as painting the mat to protect it from UV damage.
iv) Height- on average, the best height that you can achieve on a typical backyard trampoline is 16 feet, which is around 5 meters. Conversely, it's easy for Olympic trampoline jumpers to reach heights of up to 33ft, which equates to around 10 meters. While the jumpers' expertise contributes to this height difference, the design of the trampolines plays the most prominent role.
v) Abrasive mat- you'll find Olympics trampoline jumping mat more abrasive compared to the polypropylene mat used in your trampoline. This design helps a lot in stability and maximizing bounce. It's recommendable to have a full-body covering and socks before hopping onto the mat.
vi) No safety net- Olympic and gymnastic trampolines are meant for experienced athletes. Therefore, it's not surprising that they don't have an enclosure despite the dizzying heights that the jumpers achieve. If anything, the bouncy nature of these trampolines make an enclosure practically useless since the jumpers would be jumping much higher. All in all, safety is still taken care of through heavy padding on top of the spring system. Additionally, thick padding is placed on the floor surrounding the trampoline to soften any accident.
The Birth of the Modern Day Trampoline
The present-day trampoline was invented in 1936 by two American inventors- George Nissen and Larry Griswold. Nissen also takes most of the credit for his contribution to the birth of Olympic trampolining. Early on, the trampoline was intended to make tumbling more fun. But it was not long before it took off as a popular exercise on its own.
As the trampoline grew in popularity, the two inventors started their first company to mass-produce these apparatus. All along, trampolines were used for recreational purposes and as a practice tool for gymnastics.
The first unofficial trampolining competition in the USA happened in 1947. The first official trampoline championships would take place seven years later, in 1954. The following year, 1955, trampolining was listed in the Pan-American Games, which further popularized it beyond the American borders.
The first open international trampolining competition was held in Germany in 1960. It attracted athletes from the USA, Switzerland, and Germany, with the Americans emerging as the winners.
Trampolining achieved its next major milestone in 1964 with the formation of the first Trampoline World Championships. This event took place in Royal Albert Hall in London and attracted global competitors from 12 countries. Dan Millman and Judy Wills, both from the USA, would emerge as the first world champions.
In the same year, Jeff Hennessey- a PE instructor at the University of Louisiana, would become the first USA Trampoline Team coach. Throughout his career, Jeff was voted to train the USA Trampoline Team a record 9 times. He is also famed for producing the most trampoline world champions than any other coach in history, including Leigh Hennessy, his daughter.
Trampoline’s Debut in the Olympic Games
During its infancy, George Nissen and Larry Griswold anticipated that the trampoline would one day be included as a separate entity in the Olympic Games. While their dream took a long time to come true, the opportunity came by chance in 1997 when top trampolining lobbyists and the Australian Olympic committee reached an agreement. A few weeks later, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to enlist trampolining as a sport on its own in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Not surprisingly, Jeff Nissen bought front row tickets for every session to see his 1936 invention take off on the global stage.