With the current state of the world and parents looking for ways to keep their kids busy at home there has been a surge in trampoline sales. I’ve had friends have trouble finding them in stock! While trampolines are sooooo much fun for kids they also come with a long list of safety concerns. Did you know that the risk of injury is so high that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home? Today I am going to share what I have learned about trampolines, as a gymnast, a gymnastics coach, and as a parent with a backyard trampoline. I am in no way claiming to be an expert and I let my kids break some of the rules, so I plan to keep it real here 😉 You can find other articles with more technical info if that’s what you are looking for, these are simply suggestions and things to watch for.
First off, below is a list of some common injuries and things to watch out for on a trampoline.
• One jumper collides with another
• Contact with springs
• Falling off a trampoline
• Falling on the trampoline
• Trying a trick before you are professionally trained
• Collision with trampoline safety net poles
Below I will give details on ways to help avoid these situations.
Choosing the Right Trampoline-
Most trampolines you purchase new should be up to date with safety. You want the springs covered, and you want a safety net. The stronger the safety net the better. We bought a Sky Zone trampoline and its awesome. The kids can literally bounce off the net like wrestlers and I have no fear of it coming down on them. If you have an older kid who is a gymnast you might consider a rectangle trampoline, but for the average kid in the backyard a circle works great.
Be sure to follow the manual to set up your trampoline correctly. Also, be sure it is on strong level ground.
Regularly check your trampoline springs to make sure not are coming loose and check the bed for tears. I would also recommend taking it down in the winter if you live in a cold weather state. Although as a kid I sometimes left mine up year-round and it was fun. You just do not want to leave heavy snow on it as it will loosen the springs and take away bounce over time.
Safe way on and off-
Have a ladder or a safe platform for children to get on and off. No one should be jumping off.
Always check under trampoline before bouncing –
Nothing should ever be under your trampoline. Especially people! So always make sure it is clear under the trampoline before jumping.
Wear appropriate clothing –
Like any sporting activity wear appropriate clothing. Avoid loose clothing and anything with drawstrings. Also, if your child has long hair, pull it back into a pony tail.
Do not bring any hard objects on the trampoline (including jewelry)-
Never bring anything hard on the trampoline. It could hurt your trampoline and it could hurt you. Remove objects from pockets and remove jewelry before jumping.
Follow weight guidelines –
This likely will not be a problem with kids but make sure you are aware of the weight limit for the trampoline and follow it. You do not want to be that parent who ends up on Americas Funniest Home Videos 😉
One child at a time-
This is by far the hardest rule to enforce. I would be lying if I said I didn’t let my two kids jump together. There are ways to encourage against it though. Playing games like add on (each kid takes a turn and adds another jump to the end of the sequence) or copycat (taking turns copycatting each other’s jump sequence) are great ways to encourage kids to take turns. Have one sit cross legged off to the side while one kid takes a turn. If they are too young for games you can have them take turns trying “challenges” (ex. Tuck jump, straight jump, tuck jump, butt bounce.) You can also encourage kids to stay on their own side of the trampoline if you have two jumpers (more than two gets pretty crazy – I plan to try to keep kids limited to two at a time personally, but we’ll see.). Mostly just do what you can to try to get them to avoid collisions!
Jump in the center –
The center is the best and bounciest place to jump. Anytime you are not bouncing in the middle physics is working to send you in multiple directions. Try to encourage jumping in the center. When kids know it is the bounciest place, it makes them want the middle, which can help getting them to take turns!
Teach your children how to stop-
This is especially important. Most trampolines say no children until age six. This is because by age six most kids have more control of their bodies. My four-year-old bounces pretty well on our trampoline, but I do try to have him practice his control as often as I can get him to! It is easy! All they need to do is bend their knees! This will help them if their bouncing starts getting crazy, or if another bouncer double bounces them, or if they are about to collide! I have my kids practice by playing a game where they bounce until I yell freeze! Simple, and fun! =)
Learn to fall safely-
Falling safely is a great thing to learn and it will come in handy in other sports and situations as well. The tuck and roll is the best technique. Have them stand with bent knees and a rounded back. Then have them roll backwards keeping their arms in front and chin to chest. This helps teach them not to throw their arms behind them when falling (which can be killer on the elbows) and teaches them to avoid whiplash. When falling forward a half turn into the tuck and roll is best, but this is difficult for younger children.
Discourage Flips unless child is professionally trained-
Every post I read about trampolines said no flips. I say if your child can do a flip on the ground, they can definitely do it on a trampoline. Just know the risks. When doing front flips keep the knees apart to avoid your face colliding with your knees, and no back flips unless you are trained to do so. For a gymnast, a backyard trampoline is heaven, so definitely let them flip! (remember these are just my opinions 😉)
Supervise trampoline use at all times –
Do not let your kids on the trampoline if you are not AT LEAST within ear shot. You should be close so that if something does go wrong you see the injury happen and you know how serious it is and what you are treating. It’s hard for children to explain what happened to them when they are scared and hurt, so try to avoid having to ask questions to a hurt kid by being there and being present watching them.
Be very careful on a wet trampoline –
Also, every post I read said no jumping on a wet trampoline. But, I mean, jumping with the hose on the trampoline is a super fun summer activity. So, if you are going to let your kids on a wet trampoline, know the risks, and make sure the kids know it is going to be slippery.
There are a lot of risks that come with owning a backyard trampoline, but there are also a lot of benefits. By having a backyard trampoline, you can help your child develop skills to keep them safe on the other trampolines they are bound to end up jumping on when you cannot be there to help enforce safety. They will learn body control, spatial awareness, and confidence jumping and playing in your backyard. It is also simply great exercise! I hope these tips give you some ideas to enforce safety in a fun way in your backyard. If your kids love trampolines, they might be interested in learning to slackline as well! Check out my post on “Beginners Guide to Slacklining with Kids” for more fun backyard ideas! =)
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