Have you thought about purchasing a Garden Trampoline for your little sprogget? Here’s a few things to consider before you do, as well as British Gymnastics’ Safety Statement on the matter…
My favourite point on this subject which I think sums it all up is this:
Having a trampoline in the garden can be looked upon in the same way as a swimming pool, it can be great fun, but there is a need for training and rules. No parent would dream of buying a swimming pool and allowing their children unrestricted or unsupervised access or not teach them to swim before allowing them in.
But that’s not to deter you from purchasing one – these days trampolines for gardens are very affordable and can offer hours of fun for years to come. They even come with a their own ‘Safety Features’ (I’ll go into the pro’s & con’s of those). The main things to consider in my opinion are that these trampolines are very different from any found in a leisure centre, school or Trampoline Gymnastics Club and those differences are what can lead to significantly more injuries. That said there are a few things that you should definitely have thought about before you tell wee Katie that she’s getting a trampoline for in time for Summer Holidays…
- Clear the Area
- Consider the Height
- Skills and Levels of Skill
- Netting or Not?
Set out the conditions for your child and his/her friends to use the trampoline. This should include 1 person on the trampoline at a time, no jewellery and strictly no somersaults – EVER! Speaking from experience (because what trampolinist wouldn’t try something when presented with a trampoline?) These trampolines are very different with significantly reduced power to them and the risk of landing on your head, even when you’ve done somersaults hundreds of time on a 6×4, 4×4 and even a 1/2 inch bed is just too high.
Clear the Area
It seems like an obvious one, but this is something to be aware of every time the trampoline is used, not just when you’re initially setting it up – has Johnny left his scooter lying in the grass a few feet away? You don’t want to land on that by mistake whether you’re coming off the trampoline intentionally or not! Incidentally grass is one of the safer things to land on in your garden, so keep this nice and cushy around the trampoline and don’t put your lovely new decking too close to the Trampoline – solid surfaces to not allow kids to bounce back up again if they fall.
Consider the height
Older kids will (obviously) bounce higher, and this means that they have further to fall – so is there a way to reduce this by setting the trampoline in the ground? It’s quite common practice in some countries for trampolines to be built this way rather than up on stilts and personally I think this is an excellent way to make it much safer, regardless of the cost implications of removing 1m depth of soil the size of a trampoline. Incidentally, this also means that grown-ups are safer too – especially the tall, less athletic ones that think it’s cool to have a go… They’re most likely to cause injury to themselves – none of us are as young as we used to be, and we definitely don’t bounce as well as kids! :-S
Skills and Levels of Skill
In terms of what skills can safely be performed on a trampoline at home I would advise as a general rule of thumb, not to attempt anything more than what is taught in the Level 1 Syllabus – that is seat drops, hands and knees, front landings, back landings, shape jumps and twists. As BG says: There are many safe and impressive skills that don’t involve turning upside down. Different skills and combinations of skills can offer great variety as well as small soft-play items to mix things up a little. A soft beanbag or two can be good fun, though balls are not recommended a soft or lights plastic one could be suitable under appropriate supervision.
Netting or Not?
So far I’ve not once mentioned netting that can often be bought separately as an additional level of safety, or sometimes comes with circular trampolines as standard. British Gymnastics doesn’t offer guidelines on this matter, but in my opinion these can be more of a hazard. The idea behind the net is a good one- it stops children from falling off, which is what we do as coaches if a child is coming towards the edge of the trampoline. The net is providing safety similar to that of a coach, and therefore all worries about hazards around the trampoline can be laid to rest surely? Or can they? Having seen many houses where people have trampolines, I can describe the frankly dangerous state of disrepair most of these are often left in. Being out in all weathers these nets can fray and develop holes, especially in the moment when they are most needed and put to the test – a new hazard should a foot or hand be caught in one. These nets will also often come loose or detached from one of the surrounding poles, meaning part of the net begins to hang over the trampoline bounce area – again, a new slip and trip hazard. Finally, if your child has grown and is now able to bounce above the height of the net, it is no longer offering any safety to your child at all.
To counter my obviously strong opinion on the matter, I will endeavour to point out the safety that the net does offer for young children. Being light and not always steady on their feet, the net is a great object to steady a younger child bouncing on the trampoline who wanders too close to the edge. The nature of the enclosure also provides the perfect obstacle to avoid un-supervised trampoline activity- especially if your child is too young to climb onto the trampoline themselves without help.
I hope that’s given you food for thought. Ultimately the safest and best way to enjoy Trampoline Gymnastics is to participate in Trampoline as a sport – it’s a lot more fun than jumping up and down in a garden! If you want you can read more about these things from an official source: British Gymnastics has an official Garden Trampoline Safety statement on the subject. That’s all from me for now, Happy Bouncing! 😉