Have you ever been bouncing contentedly on a trampoline in a backyard or gymnasium, and wondered how it is that this simple platform can allow you to jump multiple feet into the air over and over again? Many people think that the elasticity they feel beneath their feet comes from the stretchy synthetic fabric of the trampoline mat that’s stretched between the rails of the frame, but this isn’t actually true at all. It’s important to understand a little bit about how the trampoline parts work, so that you can take care of the trampoline properly, and enjoy its mechanics for many years to come.
The jumping action of the trampoline is actually the result of a little bit of physics used cleverly to provide hours of endless fun. In case you’ve never seen a trampoline up close before, you should know that they are still made according to the original design, which was invented by a man named George Nissan way back in the 1930’s. Nissan noticed that trapeze artists who fell into the safety net below were able to use the tiny bit of elasticity in the ropes to rebound up onto their feet, and sometimes into the air for one last trick.
Nissan was determined to find a way to recreate this rebounding motion on a larger scale, so he created an iron frame and stretched a piece of canvas over it, attaching the fabric to the frame with metal springs. These large metal springs were actually energy storing devices. The coils of the spring represent potential energy, and when the weight of a person causes them to stretch, they release their energy as they return to their normal shape. When this energy is release, the depressed trampoline mat is thrust upward quickly, propelling the jumper high into the air. The harder you come down on the mat, the more force will be expelled to push you back into the air.
Although the trampoline is a simple machine, with only a few essential trampoline parts, it’s important to make sure that all of these features are in good working order. All you need is one spring to get bent, stretched, or rusted, and the whole elastic nature of the trampoline mat would be ruined. When trampolines are stored outside, the springs are in particular danger of becoming rusted, which diminishes their ability to store energy, and could cause the coils to snap instead of returning to their original position.