We all perceive that trampolines are modern inventions but as we go back in time, we can see that there are people using various versions of it that looks a tad bit different than what they look like today. Even thousands of years ago, ancient people from Egypt, Iran, and China are using trampolines for ceremonial or religious celebrations as shown on hieroglyphs. This means that trampolines were valued even back then.
Inuit hunters in the past also use trampolines to get a bird’s eye view of their surroundings as well, making it easier to hunt for their prey. So how did modern trampolines come about?
- During the middle ages, people used a device named “The Leaps” which enables a person to be airborne for a short while. This device consists of a thin board that’s placed over two stands at both ends and jumping on it sends the person into the air which.
- The Leaps became popular over time because of its function and ease of use. Performers back then used it to add a little bit of taste into their act. As time goes by, The Leaps is then replaced with a springboard, which is a contraption that’s composed of a board that was fixed to the base with a hinge. The springboard lets performers to be catapulted into the air, which became useful in circuses to do acrobatic stunts.
- Springboards still existed to this date and are now called diving boards. Which is mainly used by divers and other aquatic performers to toss themselves into the water.
- This device, however, bared little resemblance to the trampoline. The closest thing, however, would have been an adaptation of the trapeze net by a fellow called du Trampolin. Du Trampolin then came with an idea to tweak it to create a new device. He took the net, reduced the size to create a propulsion-and-landing device and then the “trampoline” was born.
The First-Ever Trampoline
- However, the first trampoline was never documented back then. But there’s a person named George Nissen who made his own version of the equipment. Back in 1930, George Nissen is just a young little boy that watches a lot of trapeze shows where the performers do some breathtaking stunts. What amazes him is where the performers do a free fall into the safety net below the area which bounces them.
- He then came with an idea to create a device that would do the same thing. George was part of the school’s gymnastics team and is also an excellent swimmer and a diver as well. Inspired by the safety net that bounces the performers, he created a “bouncing rig” that does the same thing. What he did is he strapped a sheet of canvas to a steel frame to create the device. In 1934, Nissen partnered up with Larry Griswold to add more bounce into the deivce by implementing the coil springs. Nissen spent years to spread the news about his invention across the world.
Trampoline in the Olympics
- Back in 1948, trampoline became a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a competitive sport. Fast forward to 1954, the sport was recognized as an Amateur Athletic Union event. However, the sport took the world by storm in 1964 at the World Championships at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
- The International Trampolining Federation partnered with the International Gymnastics Federation to get the sport to be included in the Olympic games back in 1994. However, the deal took a while and a meeting was held in 1997 to further discuss about the said proposal. In 2000, trampolining is now officially part of the Olympic Games with its debut began in Sydney. George Nissen is the first one to buy a ticket for the Olympic Games where his face was filled with joy as he literally witnessed his dreams became a reality.
Trampolines in Our Generation
- Fast forward to our generation, trampolines became popular with a lot of trampoline parks opening up across the world. Various versions also existed that you can buy for your own. There are the backyard trampolines that fits the whole family, and there are the mini trampolines that are solely used for rebounding exercises. Trampolines are indeed a timeless classic that will continue to live on for the later generations to come.