The History of Trampolines

Today, trampolines are a must-have piece of backyard gear for families to enjoy. They are carefully designed to provide the best bounce possible while remaining safe for kids and adults alike. 

With that being said, trampolines haven't always been the sophisticated play equipment we know today. The history of trampolines goes back several centuries. 

Throughout the history of man, trampolines have evolved in purpose and design to become the backyard staple we are familiar with.

George Nissen

Humble Beginnings

The earliest form of trampolines dates back to ancient China and Egypt. Ancient artwork depicts trampoline-like devices used for celebrations and hunting. 

The device would allow people to get high to see more of their surroundings. This method was also used by the Inuit people in Alaska. They would create large sheets out of walrus skin that numerous people would hold onto. They'd use them to launch a single person high into the air to spot potential food sources.

While there is no circumstantial proof, it's generally believed that the modern trampoline was developed by an artist who believed that the safety nets used by trapeze artists could be utilized to thrust performers into the air. 

This lead to the design of a safety net that was suspended by support poles. This artist's name was Du Trampolin, hence the design's namesake.

Modern Trampolines

The true history of the modern trampoline begins in the 1930s. The familiar design was created by two gymnasts, George Nissen and Larry Griswold. These two gymnasts met at the University of Iowa as part of the gymnastics team. 

They began designing the trampoline after noticing the benefits of the suspended safety nets of trapeze artists. They believed that such a device would help with gymnastics training.

The two built a trampoline out of iron, canvas, and rubber springs. The completed prototype was constructed in the basement of a local YMCA. It required hours of threading to complete. 

After completion, the trampoline was moved upstairs. It garnered a lot of attention from curious kids that wanted to bounce. They soon realized that their new invention was destined for greatness. The Griswold-Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling Company was started in 1942 and the rest is history.

Training Tools

Not long after their introduction to the world, trampolines were noted for their versatility. The United States Navy flight school began using them during World War II to train pilots. 

The bouncing sensation trained pilots to stay focused during flips, turns, and moments of disorientation. It was then used by NASA to prepare astronauts for varying body positions in the conditions of space.

Throughout the history of trampolines, the device was used for athletic purposes. From gymnastics to basketball, many coaches utilized the rebounding tool to improve performance. Eventually, trampolines would have a permanent place in the Olympic Games as a gymnastic sport.

Since their infancy, trampolines have provided a number of benefits in terms of training and recreation. They've changed drastically in design over the years with milestone inventions, such as the enclosure net and composite rod system. What once was a tool solely for training and sport is now a versatile and safe device anyone can use.