Which Trampoline to Buy? Tips from a Previous Gymnast

by SusanM

A previous competitive trampoline sportsperson compares what's safe and what's not in trampolines.

Many people who write about trampolines may have owned one. But this does not provide them with the knowledge to help you buy the best trampoline for your child.

My experience is different. I spent many years being trained by professional and national level trampoline coaches for competitions.

I was taught not only about acrobatics but also safety. This gives me a different level of insight about what is safe and what is not. Because even though a trampoline is made smaller for kids compared to a competition sized trampoline many of the dangers still remain.

Are Backyard Trampolines Safe?

Trampolines are great exercise. The muscles, bones and lungs all get a healthy workout. To make it even better - jumping on a trampoline is just fun. It's the closest you can get to flying without having wings.

But when you are buying a trampoline you need to think safety first. This is because trampolines are not toys. They are professional sporting equipment (from gymnastics). This means there are dangers you need to be aware of, especially if you are buying one for your child.

The three main dangers you or your child may meet on a trampoline are:

1. Hitting something (or someone) hard

2. Falling off the trampoline

3. Trying tricks (or professional skills) without being taught by a coach how to do it safely

The last danger can be stopped by keeping an eye on your child or by finding a coach if you must do acrobatics. The other two dangers can be stopped (or decreased) by buying the right trampoline.

Trampoline Buying Tips

A few tips to start you off on your trampoline journey.

1. Be careful with second-hand trampolines.

It might be cheaper but the trampoline you buy needs to have specific safety features. Many older trampolines do not have these. An older trampoline might also have problems with wear and tear that makes it unsafe even if it has the safety features. So if you are buying second-hand be very careful.

2. Buy the best you can afford.

You don't want to put yourself into a big amount of debt when you buy a trampoline. But you don't want to cut corners either. The best idea is to buy the best trampoline of the type that is in your price range. This means it's better to buy the top mini trampoline than a so-so full trampoline.

Picture: Springfree Trampoline

Does it Have a Net?

If you are buying a trampoline a good net is a must. (These can also be called an enclosure.) 

A good net is one has no hard posts for you or your child to hit. A good net is also one that is strong enough to stop you or your child from hitting any hard posts that are on it.

Competitive trampolines don't have these but we train in a safety belt to make sure we don't have a major injury during training. A safety net will do the same thing at home for you or your kids. It will help stop injuries. So when buying a trampoline always make sure it has a good net.

Will a good net stop every injury. No. Just like a helmet won't stop a grazed knee when a child falls from a bike. But it will decrease how bad the accident is and make them far less common. This makes you or your child safer. But it's still important you keep an eye on your child when they are jumping.

Picture: FunTek Trampoline

Notice there is no Safety Net
Olympic Trampoline
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What to Avoid

What NOT to buy

This is a competition trampoline. It looks very similar to what I trained on.

This is a professional piece of sporting equipment. It is not meant for children to play and jump on. It is also not meant for adults that have not had any training.

You will notice it does not have a safety net. This is fine for a fully trained gymnast but this is very unsafe for anyone else. So if you see a trampoline like this without a net it is not good for you or your child. Even when it is a high quality Olympic trampoline like this one.

A Quick Peek into Competitive Trampolining

Have you ever seen competitive trampolining? Do you know what it looks like?

This video will give you a good idea. This is the Men's Trampoline Final - Singapore 2010 Youth Games. You will notice there is no net around the trampoline. These are Olympic standard sportsmen. They don't need the net. They use a harness or belt during training instead.

How Safe are Trampolines with Nets?

What is the problem with trampoline nets?

 

Trampolines with nets often have hard poles holding the net in place. If the net is not well made you or your child can still bang into the metal pole. If you or your child hit their head they might end up with a bad injury. So as well as looking at if it has a net look at how the net works. Does it stop you or your child from hitting hard surfaces?

One example of this problem are trampolines that have a net so they look safe. But they have such tiny mats that your child has no space to jump in. This puts the metal poles very close to your child and means they may get hurt.

So look for a trampoline that has a good amount of space for you or your child to jump in. Also look for a trampoline that has a net that won't have you or your child at risk of hitting metal poles.

Picture: Springfree Trampoline

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What to Avoid

More net than trampoline

This type of trampoline with net is the sort I feel are just too small.

This is a claustrophobic trampoline. The steel tubing is too close to the jumper and there are too many hard things close by to hit. The net almost seems to make the trampoline more rather than less dangerous.

If you can only afford to buy a trampoline with a net that looks like this I think you would be better to buy a high quality mini trampoline.

Important Safety Tip

Jewelry and Watches

Make a rule that kids do not jump wearing jewelry or watches. Something like a necklace can hit a child in the eye while jumping. A watch (if there is glass in it) can break and shatter glass onto the mat. So it's safer to take these off.

What is the Safest Trampoline on the Market?

This is the safest you can buy

When I look at trampolines as a trained sportswoman it's easy to pick Springfree trampolines as the safest.

I've featured the oval trampoline but the shape of the Springfree trampoline does not matter at all.

They come in a range of sizes and shapes which is good for different sized yards.

But these trampolines no.1 because they will stop you or your child from getting a head injury or broken bone.

Are Springfree Trampolines Worth the Money?

YES! These trampolines are better because:

1. They are 100% free of springs.

The springs on a trampoline can be dangerous. Anyone who has caught their hair or fingers in them will know this. But if your child hits their head on the springs it can cause a bad head injury (springs are hard). They are also a part of the trampoline that is overlooked by the other trampoline makers when making a safe trampoline for kids. Springfree is the only trampoline that stops this problem by using something safer than springs.

2. A hidden frame.

This means kids can't hit themselves on the hard trampoline frame.

3. The net is safer than the ones on other trampolines

The net is made to cushion a child if they fall and returning them safely to the mat. They also can't hit hard poles if they fall into the net.

The make a safer trampoline that will help stop you rushing your child to the hospital to check for a broken bone or a head injury.

Springfree Review from a Safety Expert

Independent safety expert from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reviews the Springfree Trampoline design in comparison to traditional spring trampolines

The Next Best Option for Your Kids

If a Springfree Trampoline is out of your price range this is my no.2 for safety. This has a net that stops you or your child whacking a head on a hard post.

"The enclosure net protects against falling off the trampoline but also from coming into contact with the padded arches and springs." (From Funtek)

This removes the danger that is the problem with many of the other trampolines with nets being sold.

Important Safety Tip

Only one child should jump on a trampoline at the same time.

This is because your child can get a bad injury if they bang into the other jumper, especially if their heads knock together.

Having someone else jumping at the same time also increases the risk of your child loosing their balance, landing badly on the trampoline mat and breaking a bone. This is because having two two jumpers changes the way the trampoline mat (the bit you bounce on) acts. It becomes more unpredictable which can throw you off balance. Competitive trampolinists do "doubles" but this is a very advanced skill. A beginner would never be allowed to do any doubles training. So even though your kids may not like the idea it's much safer if you have a one at a time rule.

Picture: Springfree Trampoline

More Things to Bounce On

You still need to think "safety" when you buy a mini trampoline for your kids
Updated: 09/11/2012, SusanM
 
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