A Quick History of Trampolines

If you are a human being, or maybe even a family pet, there’s a fair chance that you’ve had a blast jumping on a trampoline at some point in your life. They are just too fun to pass up an opportunity. Have you ever wondered how your parents, grand parents, or even your ancestors enjoyed this wonderful contraption? Us too! Here at Rebounderz in Grand Rapids, trampolines are what we do! That is why we dug into some history regarding the creation and use of the trampoline.

Inuit Origins

While they do not technically use a trampoline, the Inuit spring whaling festival Nalukataq does include a trampoline like activity. In short, they use a walrus skin as a blanket held up by community members to launch festival goers into the air. The main event of Nalukataq may have little to do with this activity, but it sure is a fun precursor to the trampoline we know and love.

Circus Precursor

Another precursor to the trampoline comes from the circus in the form of safety nets for acrobats. It is the same concept; a person bounces on a taut fabric surface. Even in the early 1900s, bouncing beds, a small trampoline like device covered in bed sheets, were being used in circuses as part of comedy performances.

The First Trampolines

Credit for building the first trampoline goes to George Nissen and Larry Griswold in the year of 1936. They were in the fields of gymnastics and tumbling respectively, and purportedly got their idea from watching trapeze artists using a tight net. According to Nissen, the name “trampoline” is derived from the Spanish word “trampolin”, which refers to a diving board. Before the trademark for trampoline was lost, and became a generic trademark, trampolines were referred to as “rebound tumblers”.

In Flight Training

When World War II started, the US Navy began using the trampoline as a training device for pilots and navigators to help them practice concentrating in different spatial orientations. Even Soviet and American astronauts have used trampolines in their training.

Trampolines and Sports

Nowadays, trampoline can either be competitive or recreational. A lot of credit for bringing trampoline into mainstream sports goes to Jeff Hennessy, who coached at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Hennessy has produced a higher number of world champions than any other coach in the sport, including his daughter Leigh Hennessy, both of whom are included in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Since the year 2000, trampolining has been a sport in the Olympic Games. With advances in trampoline technology, many athletes are able to bounce as high as 33 feet in the air while performing an impressive array of twists and somersaults.

Trampolines have made it into more sports than just trampolining, they are also part of a new soprt called Slamball, which mashes aspects of basketball and volleyball.


If all of this talk of trampolines has you itching to try one yourself, come by our trampoline park in Grand Rapids, MI. We have the best quality trampolines available to use at an affordable price. Give us a call today to learn more!

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