AAP study differentiates between structured trampoline programs and backyard trampolines
posted on 09/24/2012

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 24, 2012 – The American Academy of Pediatrics today released a policy statement, "Trampoline safety in childhood and adolescence." Although the piece focused mostly on the dangers of backyard trampolines, the paper separated backyard/recreational trampolines and activities from trampolines used in structured training programs. The statement's conclusion stated, "Pediatricians should only endorse use of trampolines as part of a structured training program with appropriate coaching, supervision and safety measures in place."

"In a supervised environment like a gymnastics club, trampoline activity has incredible benefits for kids, whether training for a sport or getting fit," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "USA Gymnastics club programs are designed to follow the highest in both safety and equipment standards in the development and training of an athlete. The differences between a backyard trampoline and trampoline training at a gymnastics club are vast, and we applaud the AAP for recognizing those differences as noted in today's policy statement."

Dr. George Drew, an emergency room doctor, was a consultant on developing the AAP policy and also serves as a national trampoline coach and team physician for USA Gymnastics. He is board certified in emergency medicine and is with Valley Emergency Physicians in South Bend, Ind., which is affiliated with Indiana University School of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame.

"The authors were careful to separate competitive trampoline and structured training programs from the injuries seen in backyard trampoline use and jump/trampoline parks," said Drew, who is a past competitive trampolinist. "As a consultant to the study, I was pleased they took the time to carefully examine the safety differences between backyard trampolines and a structured program. Every single safety recommendation made by authors is already in place at any reputable program in our sport."

Some of the benefits of trampoline activity include: low-impact cardiovascular training; working the muscles of the entire body at one time; building spatial awareness; and cross training for many sports, such as gymnastics, BMX biking, skate and snow boarding, water skiing, wake boarding, snow skiing, trick skiing, and diving. Trampoline is also an effective and easy way for overweight individuals to get in shape and enjoy an athletic activity from the beginning.

In gymnastics clubs, coaches use a variety of teaching tools – a bungee system, rope/belt harness, pit training, etc. – and follow the accepted skill progression, which means an athlete does not do a skill until he/she has mastered the appropriate progression of easier and preliminary skills.

"This is not the first time that AAP has examined trampoline use in their patient population," said Drew. "This is the third official policy statement since 1971, but it is really the first time the authors and organization have recognized the differences between backyard trampolines and structured training programs. One of the key points in the statement is, 'Given the significant differences between the recreational and the structured training settings, extrapolation of data from the recreational setting to a formal training program is not appropriate.' This is an indication of the thorough examination done by the authors, and the recognition that the trampoline is a piece of gymnastics equipment that was not intended to become a backyard toy."

The use of trampolines requires appropriate and careful supervision, competent instruction, and proper equipment and safety measures, in an environment where these requirements can be met. USA Gymnastics only endorses the use of trampolines in properly supervised, progression-oriented programs directed by USA Gymnastics professional members.

Trampoline joined the Olympic program in 2000, and the United States has qualified an athlete at every Games. In 2008 and 2012, the USA qualified both a man and a woman for the Olympic Games, and in 2012, Savannah Vinsant became the first U.S. gymnast to advance to the finals. The modern trampoline was patented by George Nissen in 1945 as a training tool for gymnastics, acrobats and military aviators. It grew into a competitive sport in the 1960s and 1970s.