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Introduction to trampolining

Extracted from BG Handbook

The sport of trampolining is as old as man, a reflection of man’s desire to defy the ever-pervading presence of gravity.

A number of cultures have devised apparatus to send the athlete into the air, i.e. an outstretched animal skin being used to throw up, and safely receive, the descending performer. Circuses have used a number of devises to show off aerial and floor somersault activity.

The way the activity is now practised reflects the intrusion, delightful in this instance, of modern technology. Modern trampolining has only emerged in the last several decades from the prototype apparatus built by George Nissen, USA, in his garage in 1936. The Air Force, and later the Space Agencies were not slow to employ trampolines with their pilots and astronauts. Medical authorities and those working with handicapped persons have found many exciting benefits from being able to use a trampoline. At the recreational level, trampolining has an immediate appeal, especially for the young people.

Every era produces at least one step forward in the sophistication of trampoline equipment. The most modern ones are capable of projecting an athlete to such a height that the top stars can touch 10m-high ceilings and perform repetition somersaults with ease.

Competitive activity commenced in the USA at the conclusion of World War II. The activity spread to Europe in the 1950’s, inspired by visits from George Nissen, and display teams took the activity to all continents in the late 50’s and early 1960’s, when many national federations were formed. In 1958 the first “Nissen Cup” was held in Switzerland, under the organisation of Kurt Baechler, another pioneer of the sport, and which still continues today.

This breathtaking sport is now well known across the world, and gymnasts are able to execute astonishing somersaults at great height with a multitude of complex twists and turns. As well as being a sport in its own right, it is widely recognised as a training tool for many other sports such as gymnastics, diving, freestyle, skiing etc.

Trampolining is an Olympic Sport and featured in the 2000 Sydney Olympics to great acclaim.