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What We Learned About the US Tumbling and Trampoline Association

When our nine-year-old daughter asked us for a trampoline for her birthday, my husband and I thought nothing of it. A month later, the trampoline was just another part of our backyard alongside the grill and an above ground swimming pool.

To our surprise, our daughter maintained a strong interest in the trampoline long past the time she would usually grow bored with a new toy and move on to something else. When I heard about the US Tumbling and Trampoline Association through my girlfriend, I was surprised to learn that such an organization existed. But after a bit of research…we became immersed in the world of trampoline enthusiasts.

About the U.S.T.A.

Like any other American pastime, trampoline-based tumbling comes with numerous professional standards for general safety as well as competition. The U.S.T.A. was founded in 1971 by Larry Griswold and George Nissen with an original base of 200 members. Since that time, the organization has grown to an impressive 6,000 members around the country with nine tumbling divisions and six trampoline divisions.

The organization provides oversight and competitive standards for all tumblers and trampoline athletes. In 1997, the U.S.T.A. began offering generous scholarships to tumbling and trampoline athletes who participate in the many different competitions hosted around the country.

The U.S.T.A. divides its competitions into three major subgroups, including tumbling, trampoline and the double-mini trampoline. Each group is then further divided according to the participant’s skill level.
The trampoline division is divided into the categories of beginner, novice, intermediate, sub-advanced, advanced, elite and synchronized. The tumbling divisions are identical with the exclusion of a synchronized division, and the double mini-trampoline group is divided into the beginner, novice, intermediate, sub-advanced and advanced divisions.

Each division is allowed to compete in competition to demonstrate skills on a variety of level. When we signed our daughter up for the beginner division in the trampoline group, we found a thriving community of local organizers and teachers who were more than willing to help new students gain the skills they need to compete in this fun and exciting sport.

Rules and Regulations

One of the aspects of the U.S.T.A. that we found most impressive was their thorough handbooks of safety rules and regulations for each division. Like any sport, tumbling and trampoline sports require a great deal of focus and careful use of equipment to minimize the risk of injury.

In fact, the U.S.T.A. has in-depth rules regarding how many people can use a trampoline at once as well as proper technique and form to use while jumping. The tumbling division utilizes the trampoline as well as mats and other equipment, so it is important for athletes to be familiar with the proper safety measures that should be taken when using each one.

When my daughter first began using our backyard trampoline, safety was only a passing concern. After all, trampolines are used by thousands of kids across America. We just assumed that as long as she didn’t do risky stunts without supervision, we were playing it safe.

Her induction into the world of formal trampoline competitions through the U.S.T.A. made us realize that was far from the case. In fact, the U.S.T.A. has a lot to say about recreational trampoline use that most people who casually use a trampoline do not realize.

According to the U.S.T.A., both competitive trampoline athletes and those who use backyard trampolines for recreation and exercise should perform with no fewer than four spotters. A spotter is someone who is trained to stand beside the trampoline and provide assistance should the athlete need it.
Even athletes with proper technique can find themselves in need of a spotter, but it is especially important for younger athletes to have a spotter. Under no circumstances should children use a backyard trampoline without supervision, according to the U.S.T.A.. Accidents can happen suddenly and even adults should always use a recreational trampoline with another person watching so they can call for help in an emergency.

Community and Standards

Our experience with the U.S.T.A. has been a positive one thanks to the thriving community of positive support and athleticism. We learned that trampoline can be a challenging and rewarding sport when practiced responsibly. Finding a teacher through the U.S.T.A. who is willing to teach proper trampoline safety and technique can make all the difference when it comes to turning this fun hobby into a promising athletic activity.

Rick Mason