A trampoline is essentially a gymnastic and recreational equipment made of a steel frame with a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched over it using coiled springs as anchors. The attached fabric or strong canvas sheet is used for tumbling. Innovative trampolines are made of dense net, stretched elastically on a frame of varied shapes. Durable materials like tarpaulin are often used as an alternative to nets.
Trampoline inherited its name from the Spanish "trampolín" meaning a diving board. Trampolines were first used by the Eskimos who used to toss one another up into the air on walrus skins. The first modern trampoline was built by Larry Griswold and George Nissen in 1934. They later established the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling Company in 1942 and began making trampolines commercially in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The United States Navy Flight School used trampolines in its training of pilots and navigators during World War II by allowing pilots to practice their orientation. Trampolines were also used in the space flight programme to help train astronauts in experiencing various body positions in flight.
Since the year 2000 trampolining was introduced to the Olympic Games as a competitive gymnastic sports. In competitive trampolining the user is allowed to bounce as high as ten metres.
Trampolines are of two types, recreational and competitive. Recreational trampolines are generally circular, octagonal or rectangular shaped, and the materials used such as the springs and the bed fabric are not as sturdy as that of competitive trampolines. On the other hand, competitive trampolines are made of stronger and less-elastic fabric, with the trampoline's elasticity provided only by the springs. The frames of competitive trampolines are made of steel that can be folded up for easy transportation to competition venues.
Some of the popular and essential trampoline accessories include covers, safety nets, ladders, anchors, tents, trampoline bounce boards, trampoline enclosure locks and spring tools. Trampoline weather covers protect the frame pads, material and stitching on the mat of the trampoline against UV rays. Trampoline accessories such as nets, also known as trampoline enclosures, are constructed with zinc tubes and a tough polyethylene net to add extra safety to the trampoline. With the growing popularity of trampolining, more and more trampoline accessories are available at reasonable prices.
Trampolines can be used for entertainment. They are also used for diverse activities such as physical education, competitive gymnastics, diving training etc. In recent times, trampolining has become a popular sport among children, as they never seem to lose their enthusiasm for trampolining.