Who invented the trampoline?

Trampolines have been serving people of different ages as a great source of fun and amusement over the years. Many trampolines, such as 14ft trampolines, have wide use all over the world, from being used as recreation equipment in private compounds to being used for competitive sports at the Olympics. Trampolines are popular far and wide. However, the question many ask is, “who invented the trampoline?” To learn about this and many more interesting facts, it is best to learn about the history of the trampoline. This article tells you all you need to know about the trampoline, its invention, and history. 

History of the trampoline

Let’s go to a time before the trampoline itself. A 16-year-old gymnast went to a circus show of Cedar Rapids in Iowa in 1930. The performances at this show included several aerial stunts. In one of the stunts, the group threw a member up and watched him land softly on a firm net. This show served as the source of inspiration for the then 16-year-old boy named George Nissen. 

George then went home and tried to create a piece of equipment that would allow the people to not only land softly but to continue bouncing. After many failures at home, George Nissen teamed up with his school gymnastics teacher, Larry Griswold to invent the trampoline in 1934. This was four years after the circus show.

The first model of the trampoline

The earliest design of the trampoline was a combination of inner tubes, iron and canvas. The inner tubes were the most important part of the trampoline because they gave the needed bounce.

This first design wasn’t initially called a trampoline but a “tumbling device.” George picked up the name “Trampoline” in Mexico when he went there for a performance. The name comes from “el trampoline”, which means “diving board” in Spanish. In time he adopted the name Trampoline for this newly invented device. 

The early years of the trampoline

Now that we know who invented the trampoline, let us talk about its early years after invention. George Nissen and Larry Griswold did all they could to promote the invention. In a bid to make it popular commercially, they started a Griswold-Nissen Trampoline and Tumbling Company. This company started in 1942 and was responsible for marketing the invention to others. Griswold soon left the business in pursuit of a personal career in diving and acrobatics. George continued with his dream of making the trampoline popular in various households. This led to something great a few years later. 

The trampoline and World War II

Now that we know the trampoline’s early history, the next phase of its history comes during the second world war. One might wonder how the invention could serve any purpose during the war. However, in the early years of marketing, George had spoken much about the contribution of trampoline to one’s health. The anaerobic and aerobic activities that could be performed on the trampoline. These benefits and many more were part of the reasons why the invention was useful during the war.

Trampolines were used to train military personnel, especially pilots. It was to help them learn how to keep or restore balance when in the air. The pilots would jump on the trampoline and perform different functions mid-air to train their spatial orientation. 

This later extended to the space program towards the end of world war II. The space program led to the invention of a game known as Spaceball. Spaceball requires that a team pass a ball through a hole while the other team prevents it. Both teams would play while on the trampoline.

The use of trampoline during world war II gave it much needed popularity. After the war, the use of trampoline for recreation gained much approval among the people.

The Trampoline and Lawsuits

By 1970, trampoline had become popular in the US. These led to the creation of “Jump Centres” around the country. It was a place where kids could jump around and have fun. However, due to unsupervised use of the trampoline by kids, various forms of injuries were sustained. A lawsuit by parents soon followed, which led to the company’s sale in the late 1970s.

The trampoline in the Olympics

Over the years, after its invention, the trampoline continued to gain prominence among recreation lovers. Many people all around started using it for fun and amusement. A new development came in the year 2000 when the trampoline became an Olympic event. The first time it appeared in the event. This was 66 years after its invention. 

Before that, in 1962, trampolining was recognised as an official sport by the International Gymnastics Federation. Also, there was a Trampoline World Championships in 1964. It also appeared at the Beijing Games in 2008. 

George Nissen and the famous kangaroo

Throughout the years of marketing, George used different methods to show the fun and health benefits of using trampolines as part of a training regimen. He used different photo ops to drive home the point. One famous photo op was his public bounce with a kangaroo. The kangaroo name was Victoria. He had secured the animal from an animal supply. His goal was to train the animal to learn how to jump and hop on the trampoline. After several trials, he finally got a photo that was worthy of being printed worldwide.

Conclusion

The history of who invented the trampoline is a straightforward account. You have learnt of the inspiration that led to the formation of the first type of trampoline. Nowadays, there are many different types of trampoline:

Kids Trampolines
8ft Trampolines
10ft Trampolines

You have also seen the different purposes that the trampoline has served over the years. The trampoline is indeed a wonderful piece of equipment to have both for personal use or gymnastics purposes. You can learn more about the trampoline, including its care and maintenance, from our other posts.