Before attempting any more difficult moves it is important that you first know how to stop safely. You stop by bending your knees as you touch down on the trampoline. Things to watch out for are:
- not bending them enough which will cause you to rebound again – we want the trampoline (and you), to both stop moving at your first attempt; not after several ever-decreasing rebounds;
- leaning forwards or backwards as you ‘land’ might make you fall over or, worse, ‘ping’ off the side!
Once you understand how to stop you can learn how to bounce higher safe in the knowledge that you can stop if necessary.
Phases of Jumping
Key to good bouncing is establishing a rhythm with the trampoline – it helps to have an understanding of the ‘phases’ of a bounce – each bounce is in 4 parts from:
- take-off to the ‘TOP’ of your bounce;
- TOP to when you touch the trampoline again (first contact);
- ‘first contact’ to when the trampoline bed is as low as it will go (full depression);
- ‘full depression’ to take-off point (or last contact).
How to establish the rhythm
The most critical period for accurate bouncing is the time between ‘first contact’ and ‘last contact’ since it is here that you most need to establish a good rhythm. Starting with low controlled bounces we push our toes down into the bed at the same time as gently ‘sculling’ with our arms moving in small circles from our side forwards and round in a small circle and then back to our side again as we come back to first contact – as the bounces become higher it is important that you ‘reach up’ into your bounce as high and straight as possible (but still keeping the idea of moving the arms in ‘circles’ up and round – never behind) by doing the following:
- Bringing your arms up the front from the point of full depression*;
- Trying to push your toes deeper into the trampoline immediately before take-off;
- Keeping your toes pointed and your arms stretched (like the picture above right) until TOP;
- Bringing your arms back down the side;
- At all times keeping your upper-body & head as still as possible.
* there is one ‘special’ jump called an arm-set where this is not true. This jump is used to prepare for the beginning of a routine or skill and results in your arms being fully extended above the head by full depression.
So we should see the following occurring:
Every move you do should be starting off the same way with:
- arms (and fingers) as straight as possible,
- swinging from the side of your legs in front of you to high above your head, and
- then back round to the side to the side of your legs as you approach the trampoline again.
Whether performing ‘shape’ bounces (tuck, pike & straddle), twists or moves involving some degree of somersault (seat drop, front drop or more) the same basic principle applies – lift your arms towards the ‘TOP’ before making the shape or move. This would ideally be in the form of an arm-set the operation of which is slightly too complex to explain at this stage. It can, however, be done more simply by leaving them up on the jump immediately preceding the skill you plan to execute.
When we were toddlers there was a point at which we learned to jump about. I can’t prove this but I suspect that on one or more occasions we did so with flat feet until we learned that the landing jarred. From that point on your trampolining career could have been ruined because you now KNOW that you land ‘on your toes’ to absorb the impact. To be any good at trampolining we have to UNLEARN this.
It is important that you point your toes at all times APART from when landing on your feet. The most efficient bounces will land with your feet ‘flat’ keeping them that way until the bed starts rising. As the rise accelerates press your toes deeper into the bed (keeping legs straight) to drive yourself higher. You then keep them pointed until just before you land again.