The gymnastic discipline of trampoline comes from the circuses of the 1930s, where stretched out safety nets became makeshift trampolines that allowed performers to fly through the air. George Nissen and Larry Griswold once watched this aerial display which inspired them to build the first trampoline around 1934 at the University of Iowa. They eventually began producing and selling these trampolines. From this the sport of trampoline took off.
To Bounce or Not to Bounce
Trampoline, as a sport, began with competitions held at schools in the United States and Europe. These events had no specific rules or criteria. Some routines were incredibly long, and if the performer fell off, he just got right back on jumping and competing his routine.
Today, the sport is now a refined discipline, and, since the 1950’s, competitive trampoline events have followed a 10-bounce routine which gives athletes 10 bounces to perform daring aerial tricks. The first World Trampoline Championships were in 1964 in London, and Canada sent its first trampoline team to the Championships in 1972. In 2000, the trampoline became an Olympic event, which goes to show just how incredible the feeling of flight can be. Since then, Canada has won a medal in Women’s Trampoline at every single Olympic Games, including the only gold medal Canada won at the Olympics in London in 2012.
From Height to Speed
Head Over Heels
Speed, rhythm, power, and even more speed. Tumbling is a fast-paced and complex display where a gymnast executes a series of acrobatic bounds in succession from hands to feet, feet to hands, or even feet to feet. Tumbling became a World Championship event in the 1880s. Back then, the mat was thinner and made up a 25 metre long track. Tumbling routines involved 8 fluid elements without any change in rhythm. This discipline was only an Olympic event once in 1932, but World Championships are still held annually.
Putting the "Power" in Power Tumbling
As time went on, the mats or track used for tumbling became thicker and eventually springs were added, evolving the sport into power tumbling. This evolution now added a new component to a routine: the end skill. Normally the end skill involves an impressive skill such as a double or triple back somersault. The track is now 26 metres long, but the routine still has 8 elements. There is a long list of tumbling moves that an athlete can perform which includes cartwheels, round offs, back handsprings, layouts, tucks, hurdlers, and fulls. Blink and you’ll miss it.
In terms of gymnastics training, trampoline and tumbling are often combined to create a program known as T&T. Athletes in these programs master aerial control, speed and power to perform on both the trampoline, double-mini and the rod floor. The combination of these three apparatus’ offers gymnasts the opportunity to develop their strength, flexibility, power, speed, courage and body control.
A single athlete performs multiple somersaults, twists and turns at a height of up to 8 metres. The trampoline used is 5.05 metres long, 2.91 metres wide, 1.155 metres high and is only 6 millimetres thick. The routines are judged by body position, and the degree of rotation and twists executed. Do you have the aerial skills needed for a daredevil bounce?
The tumble track is now 26 metres long, the the routine still has 8 elements. There is a long list of tumbling moves that an athlete can perform which includes cartwheels, round offs, back handsprings, layouts, tucks and fulls. Blink and you’ll miss it.
Two gymnasts mirror a routine while performing on 2 separate trampolines. Competitors are judged on how well they stay synchronized with each other. If either of the competitors performs a different skill, or even the same skill but in a different position, the routine stops and they receive a score for the portion of the routine that they have performed.
Double Mini Trampoline:
A gymnast performs 2 skills on a small trampoline before landing on a mat to stick the perfect landing. The best gymnasts can execute double and even triple somersaults with twists added in for a gravity-defying display. During a competition, no skill can be repeated. The trampoline might be mini, but the excitement definitely isn’t.