Trampoline History Facts: Bouncing Through The Ages

Almost everyone has a trampoline in their backyard here in the USA. It is starting to become a very popular sports equipment to have fun, pass time or even exercise. Whether indoor or outdoor, trampolines truly are amazing pieces of equipment to let out stress and relax and enjoy passing time.

Now wouldn’t anyone be curious about the origin of the trampoline? We mean, someone has got to ask, where did it come from? Who got the first idea?

We mean, just look at that simple mechanism. All it has is just a platform connected to springs and you bounce on the rubbery surface. Where did this simple yet unique idea come from?

Well, that’s what we are going to talk about in this blog. Let’s look at some trampoline history facts and find some information about the fascinating origin of the trampoline.

Amazing Trampoline History Facts

Let’s look at some historical facts of trampolines to understand better about their invention.

Fact # 1 The inventors of the modern trampoline were from the same university.

The inventors of the modern trampoline were George Nissen and Larry Griswold. They were both at the University of Iowa in 1936 when they first built the trampoline. George Nissen was a gymnastics and diving competitor and Larry Griswold was a tumbler. You can see how these two shared their idea of building such and equipment.

Fact # 2 The word ‘Trampoline’ came from a Spanish word that means something else.

George Nissen heard a word called “trampolin” while he was on a demonstration tour in Mexico in 1930. The word means ‘diving board’ and he used the words’ anglicized form which was ‘trampoline’ for the trademark.

Fact # 3 The first trampoline company was in Iowa.

The first trampoline manufacturing company was built in 1942 by both the inventors of it. It was named the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company which was situated in IOWA. 

Fact # 4 Trampolines were actually trademarked as Rebound Tumbler.

Trampolines were actually called and trademarked as rebounding tumblers or rebound tumblers. And the sport was called rebound tumbling.

Fact # 5 They got their inspiration from Trapeze artists.

The inventors of the trampoline got the idea from trapeze artists. Not really the trapeze platforms, but the safety nets they use in their shows, like the ones used in the circus. Those nets are used for protection from falls, but Nissen and Griswold took that idea as inspiration for the modern trampoline.

The prototype of the first trampoline was made using tire rubber from the tire inner tubes and scrap steel to build the frame. We are not sure about this one though.

Fact # 6 The first animal on a trampoline was a Kangaroo.

The first animal to ever step on a trampoline was a Kangaroo. George Nissen came up with the idea for promoting their new apparatus by taking a picture with a live kangaroo. Nissen brought a live kangaroo and got it to stand on one side of the trampoline while he jumped on the other side of the trampoline.

This made them bounce and thus the historical picture of a kangaroo on a trampoline was taken in New York.

Fact # 7 The first game on a trampoline was “Spaceball”.

At the early stages of the modern trampoline, there were many areas where the trampoline was being used by more than just one person. At that time there was a game that was played with two persons at each team for two. It required a different setup of the trampoline where there were walls on two sides and a middle wall through which a ball would be projected.

This game was called “Spaceball”. It was one of the first trampoline games.

Fact # 8 The trampolines were mainly used to train astronauts.

During World War II the trampoline was brought to train pilots and navigators at the U.S. Navy Flight School. The aim was to give them an experience of different aerial orientations in flights. After WWII, this training program was used to train American and Soviet astronauts.

Fact # 9 The first trampoline world championships were held in 1964.

It was organized by Ted Blake in 1964 in London. The first World Trampoline Champions were Dan Millman and Judy Wills Cline who were both Americans.

Fact # 10 Trampolining as a sport has been part of the Olympics since 2000.

Trampolining as a competitive sport has been part of the Olympic Gymnastics since the year 2000.

The trampoline has evolved into a whole different thing since its creation. It was meant to be for sports, but now it has much more uses. For some, it is a part of their life.

Trampoline History Facts
Source: Wikipedia
Inuit blanket toss in Wainwright, Alaska (1922-1923) during Amundsen’s Maud Expedition

Who Invented the Trampoline and When?

The trampoline was invented by George Nissen and Larry Griswold in 1936. They were both at the University of Iowa on the gymnastics team. George Nissen was a gymnast and a competitive diver and Larry Griswold was a tumbler for the gymnast team.

It was the trapeze artists that inspired them to get the idea for the prototype. The nets below the trapeze artists gave Nissen the idea of a bouncing platform which then became the modern trampoline.

Trapeze artists in circuses or other shows use horizontal bars to swing and jump from one bar to another. They perform many acrobatic tricks to impress their audience. 

However, the thing that Nissen noticed about their shows is that they use a net below them to protect themselves. This net catches them and saves them from devastating falls in case they lose grip. However, this net is also bouncy and creates a rebound effect when someone jumps on it.

This is where Nissen got the idea to design and create a trampoline.

What was the First Trampoline Made out of?

The first trampoline was made out of angle iron, canvas bed, and coiled springs. Some say they used scrap metal and tire inner tubes which are rubbery and soft. Nissen and Griswold stretched the canvas with grommets inserted on each side to an angle iron frame.

This created a stretchy and bouncy platform. That was how the first prototype of a trampoline was made.

George Nissen even came up with the name of trampoline in an interesting way. In 1930, when he was in Mexico, he heard the word “trampolin” which meant diving board in Spanish. Nissen used that same word as the real name for his invention. He used the anglicized version of the word which has an added ‘e’. 

Trampoline Olympics History

Ever since its invention and the start of the Trampoline World Championships in 1964, Trampolining has become a very popular sport. It was in 2000 when Trampolining became an Olympic sport.

The first event it was on was the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The program featured both men and women. Ever since then, multiple world records had been set on the trampolining history as an Olympic sport.

China has been a dominating force in the Olympic Trampolining sports section. They were successful enough to create world-class trampolining champions who would go on and win a gold medal for the country. In the year 2007, China set an amazing record by winning the Men’s World Championship. Later China won the Gold medal in Olympics Men and Women’s division.

Following up that year, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing China won a Bronze medal. This only showed their incredible potential in sports which is still being carried on to this day. China is still a dominating force in this sport.

Ever since then many other countries have tried to beat their record and take first place. In the 2016 Olympics at Rio, a British female named Bryony Page won the first-ever Silver Medal for her country.

Trampolining in the Olympics has truly evolved to a bigger sport than what Nissen imagined when he first started the Trampoline World Championships. 

Amazing Trampoline World Records

Let’s look at the amazing world records made with trampolines throughout history. These world records were recorded by the Guinness World Records.

  1. The record for the most non-stop somersaults on a trampoline was 3333 in total. It was set by Brian Hudson from the UK on 18th September 2003.
  2. The record for the longest marathon trampolining was done by a team from Ashby De La Zouch and District Round Table in the UK. It took 25 hours and 30 minutes and it was done from 27 October to 28 October 2017.
  3. The record for the most people bouncing on multiple trampolines at a time was 376. There were exactly 376 trampolines and 376 participants who all jumped at the same time at Marina Bay in Singapore. This was performed on 8th Aug 2017.
  4. The highest jump on a trampoline to ever record was set by Sean Kennedy and his team. The jump was 22.1 feet high performed on 8th April 2014.

There are more interesting trampoline world records out there. We don’t want to spoil all the fun here. We recommend you check them out yourself.

Who Made the First Trampoline Park?

George Nissen, the inventor of the trampoline, was the guy who made Trampoline Park in the year 1960. In the early 1960s, he noticed that trampolines were being used mostly as recreational equipment. That is when he got the idea to open a trampoline park where everyone could get access to a trampoline.

George Nissen always loved his invention. He never thought of the trampoline to be recreational equipment, but he didn’t dislike the idea either. In fact, it skyrocketed the sales of trampolines. That’s when a trend popped up in the U.S.A. where houses started having trampolines in their backyards.

FAQs

How did the trampoline get its name?

George Nissen was the inventor of the trampoline and he was the one who named this equipment. He named the trampoline from the Spanish word “trampolin” which means “a diving board”. George Nissen just added the “e” at the end of the word.

What is the history of trampolines?

The history of trampolines started when the first modern trampoline was built in 1934 at the University of IOWA. It was mainly used as a training tool for astronauts.

What was the first animal to jump on a trampoline?

The first animal to be on a trampoline was a Kangaroo and it didn’t really jump on the trampoline. In 1960 George Nissen got a Kangaroo, from Long Island, to stand on one side of the trampoline and then he bounced on the other side.

What animals made the trampoline popular?

The animal that made the trampoline popular was a Kangaroo. It was made possible thanks to George Nissen’s idea of taking a picture of a Kangaroo with him jumping on opposite sides of the trampoline. The picture was named “tame”.

Why are trampolines bouncy?

Trampolines are bouncy because of their springs. The trampoline springs hold kinetic energy and release them when you jump, pushing you up. The trampoline mat is just a soft surface to land your feet on. It stretches to transfer your kinetic force to the springs and then the springs push it back.

Conclusion

The facts about trampolines are truly amazing. Just imagine a guy got the idea to build an awesome jumping platform that would help athletes, astronauts, and general people all around the world at the age of just 16.

How cool is that? And don’t forget all the other amazing things that took place after it was invented. Just think of all the world records and sports events that were possible to take place. Think of all the amazing flips and crazy acrobatic skills people have developed from this amazing equipment.

And don’t forget all the hard work and creative effort that were put into its marketing. The first picture that they George Nissen took with the Kangaroo was a record holder itself. Truly the trampoline’s journey through the past to the present was epic. We hope our trampoline history facts have satisfied your thirst to know more about trampolines.