History of Trampolines – Invention and Developments Since

History of Trampolines – Invention and Developments Since

This post has detailed info on the history of trampolines, interesting historical facts beginning with its invention – including the person who invented the trampolines.

Trampoline sport started in Iowa and is now a sport in the Olympics! That is the historical development of the trampoline over the last few decades.

A Trampoline is tumbling equipment that has an elevated and resilient webbed bed or a canvas sheet that springs in a metal frame support.

There is no hard proof of the start of the use of “bouncing devices.” Many scholars agree, however, that ancient Egypt and China populations used bouncing devices that resemble modern-day trampolines. 

The materials used for the bouncing devices and the use of the trampoline-like devices are unknown. Scholars speculate, however, that people used the bouncing devices at large civic or sporting events to have a better view over the heads of crowds of people.

The Inuits of Alaska first introduced trampolining games in the 1920s. The Inuits used walrus skins to bounce on and throw dancers into the air during the spring celebration of the whale harvest.

Evidence also shows that European populations tossed each other into the air by several persons holding a blanket.

Also, several acrobats used a “bouncing bed” on the stages in the early years of the 20th century to amuse audiences during comedy routines. In 2020, the safety of trampolines is a key consideration every parent should take when purchasing a trampoline for kids.

How the first trampoline looked like

The first trampoline invented was a stretched piece of canvas fixed to a rectangular iron frame with coiled springs under it.

Image of the first trampoline

Trampoline Inventors – George Nissen and Larry Griswold (1930s)

George Nissen, with the assistance of his coach Larry Griswold, invented the modern trampoline in 1936. It is, however, important to note that developments to this invention began in 1934. Often, when asked for specifics who invent trampolines, we confer that honor to George Nissen who was a teenage gymnast when he found out about the beauty of the bouncing equipment.

George Nissen was a teenage gymnast when trapeze artists bouncing off a safety net inspired him to invent a trampoline.

Nissen was born in  Blairstone, Iowa, as the youngest of four kids to a Danish Immigrant that ran a grocery shop.

Nissen became a gymnast and a dive in highschool, which contributed to his visit to the circus. Nissen became curious if the bouncing net the crowns used could improve his gymnastics training.

Nissen and his coach Larry Griswoods, known as “The Diving Fool”,  built the first trampoline prototype in 1934 using canvas and junkyard while in Iowa university. Nissen and Griswoods tested the prototype in the school’s swimming pool, which became a favorite for his schoolmates.

Nissen and his two friends formed a team “Three Leonardos” and  toured the United States and Mexico performing what they called “rebound tumbling.”

Nissen changed the rebounding sport from “rebound tumbling” to “trampoline” after hearing the Spanish word “trampoline.” Nissen trademarked the name “trampoline.”

Nissen opened the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling Co. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that manufactured and sold gymnastics equipment.

Later, Nissen served in the US Navy, where they trained pilots on how to orient in the air using the trampoline.

Nissen heavily promoted the trampoline by organizing competitions shortly after the war.

Nissen bounces on the trampoline with a Kangaroo in New York City (1960) to popularise the sport

Nissen also marketed his trampoline by jumping on it from the top of an Egyptian pyramid in the 1970s. 

George Nissen Jumps on a Trampoline Around Egyptian Pyramids.

Nissen introduced the trampoline to 40 countries after World War Two.

George Nissen died of Pneumonia in San Diego, California, at the age of 96. Nissen is survived by his wife, Annie (a former Dutch acrobat), two daughters, and a grandson.

Larry Griswold died in 1996.

Trampoline History Facts

Trampolines have a rich history that most people do not know. 

We highlight some mind-blowing historical facts below.

  1. The first modern trampoline was made out of the inner tubing of tires and pieces of scrapped steel. George Nissen used the exact trampoline for his gymnastic act in the Iowa Hawkeye Circus show.
  2. Trampolines and World War II

The U.S Navy Flight School developed a trampoline during WWII, which the navy used to train pilots and navigators, specifically the significant flips and turns during flights, and to eliminate the fear of heights.

Also, the US navy used trampolines to strengthen their muscles, improve the control of the body, and to help them gain the best balance possible.

  1. The highest ever-recorded trampoline bounce launched a man 22 feet in the air. 

Three brothers, Sean, Eric, and T.J. Kennedy, built the bounciest trampoline in the world and hold the Guinness World record for the highest trampoline bounce.

  1. The World’s largest trampoline is a connection of several trampolines.

The world’s largest trampoline is called Flip Out, located in Glasgow. Flip Out measures 63,000 square feet.

  1. Most recorded trampoline backflips in a single minute are 49.

Lucas Laurent set the record in 2017.

  1. Trampolining became an Olympic Sporting event in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. 

The IOC Executive Board agreed to include trampolining gymnastics in the Olympics in their 1997 meeting.

  1. Trampolines and NASA

NASA has continued to use trampolines to prepare its astronauts for space. Scientists discovered that rebounding on a trampoline is 68% more effective in preparing proper breathing exercises and strengthening the muscles compared to working a treadmill.

Also, the trampoline prepares astronauts for the feeling of being weightless and loss of gravity, preparing them for space missions.

History of Trampoline in the Olympics 

Trampolining or trampolining gymnastics is a competitive sporting activity where athletes perform acrobatics while bouncing on a trampoline.

The IOC Executive Board meeting at Lausanne, 1997, agreed to include the trampoline on the Olympic program.

The first trampolining gymnastics at the Olympics were at the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, 200. The trampoline Olympic sport included one men’s and one women’s event. Today, competitions include individual, synchronized, double mini, and tumbling events.

Popular trampolining competitions include simple jumps such as the straight, pike, tuck, and straddle positions and complex competitions such as forward and backward somersaults and twists.

Each routine includes a combination of 10 contacts, where the trampoline combines varying rotations, twists, and shapes. Each take-off and landing can employ either the feet, seat, front, and back positions.

Scoring of the trampolining gymnastic sport is based on the difficulty and the total seconds spent in the air. In contrast, bad forms and horizontal displacements from the center of the trampoline lead to the deduction of points.

How many people do trampolining? 

Many people engage in trampolining today, either in professional competitions or a fun activity. For example, gymnasts from the USA, France, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Bulgaria, Denmark, China, and Portugal participate in the trampoline gymnastics event at the Olympics. Also, all fun parks hardly miss trampolines, both for children and adults; there are more than 600 trampoline parks in the United States today. SkyZone Trampoline Park, Urban Air Trampoline Park, Altitude Trampoline Park, and Get Air Trampoline Park own 68% of the trampoline parks in the country.  Besides, most homes have trampolines in their homes. Approximately, the trampoline industry sells about 500, 000 units yearly; many companies have come to produce innovations.

Images of Different trampolines – sizes 

Today, different types of trampolines vary in designs and use.

  • Round Trampolines

Round trampolines are the most common types of trampolines. The round trampolines come in three average sizes, which are ;

  • 8-10 Ft Round Trampolines. They are perfect for small backyards
  • 12 Ft Round Trampolines, referred to as medium sized trampolines
  • 14 Ft Round Trampolines or more, which are ideal for older users.

Round trampolines are ideal because they have low risks of injury; they keep users at the center, which prevents them from falling off. Most circular trampolines have enclosures. You can read more about trampoline injury statistics.

  • Rectangular Trampolines

Rectangular trampolines are used mostly by professional gymnastics.

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