With Home Trampoline Injuries on the Increase, Should Physical Education Programs Teach Trampoline Skills and Safety?

Article excerpt

From 1990 to 1998 I directed a children's gymnastics program. One of our four stations was the trampoline. Over this period we had no significant injuries. We had only some minor skin burns and a couple of sore necks from incorrectly performed front drops. Our lack of serious injuries may have been partly due to good luck; however, the key aspect was "layered" safety. The trampoline was firmly placed in a corner of the gymnasium, thus providing built-in safety walls for two sides of the trampoline. Against one of these walls (the shorter side of the trampoline) we erected a thick crash pad as a potential buffer. On the floor we always had three "spotters" with arms up like circling albatrosses (one at the short end, two along the long side) to serve as safety catchers.

I wish that I could claim that with those ingredients alone we created an accident-free activity. That is not the case. We had to go one step further and ban "high risk" aerial stunts. Front and back somersaults were as far as we went! Home trampoline injuries are increasing and physical education programs need to teach performers to maximize the safety of what will always be a potentially dangerous activity.

- Scott A. G. M. Crawford, professor, College of Education and Professional Studies, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920.

Physical education in the schools reaches every child from five through seventeen. It is the responsibility of physical educators and administrators to include as many recreation and play activities in the physical education curriculum as possible. Curricula should focus on skills, and more importantly, the safety precautions and procedures for trampolines and every other leisure pursuit. If it is not done in the physical education programs, who else will do it? Remember, one of the seven cardinal principles of education is still to teach activities for the worthy use of leisure time.

- Arthur H. Mittelstaedt Jr., executive director of the Recreation Safety Institute, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779.

Injuries are on the rise with the use of trampolines. However, one must first understand that this injury increase is the result of the round backyard trampoline. The sale of these units has spiraled into the hundreds-of-thousands. As a result, it would be impossible to protect every home owner who purchases this type of trampoline.

While instruction in supervision, skills, and safety would reduce the number of accidents and injuries, the results would be minimal at best. The idea of training all of the consumers of these trampolines staggers the imagination. Some method needs to be put into place to reduce this source of injuries. It is my opinion that the answer is to eliminate round backyard trampolines.

- Jeff T. Hennessy, Baton Rouge, LA 70817.

Trampoline play at home is typically unstructured and thus incomparable to trampoline skills and supervised learning activities in a physical education setting. Acquiring these gross motor skills in a properly supervised setting develops kinesthetic sense and coordination, confidence (fear management), teamwork, trust, and safety.

It would be absurd to ban all physical education classes that require movement because they involve risk! If we ban activities that can cause injury, we couldn't move!

We can and should reduce the risks associated with the trampoline. This can be done by storing trampolines in a secure place, jumping only when an instructor is present, jumping low and under control, prohibiting horseplay, allowing only one student to jump on each trampoline, and prohibiting jumping during verbal instruction and demonstrations.

We can further reduce the risks by training students to be good spotters and coaches. Spotters are taught to cover all open ends of the trampoline. When using trampolines, students have two duties: protect the jumper from injury and provide effective feedback. …