History of Trampolining

A brief history of Trampolining, both worldwide and in Australia.


The manufactured trampoline, as we know it today, was created by two men, George Nissen and Larry Griswold, allegedly in George's garage. One day in 1935, with the help of the wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, Nissen and Griswold bolted together an iron frame. A piece of canvas, in which they had inserted grommets along each side, was then attached to the frame by using springs. This was the first trampoline. Nissen called it a Trampoline after hearing "El trampolin" (Spanish for diving board), on a performance tour in Mexico around this time, and registered the term as a trademark. In 1942, Griswold and Nissen decided to formalise their small operation of making trampolines. They created the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and history was made....

Over to the UK.... In 1949, Ted Blake organised to purchase a second hand Nissen trampoline for Loxford School in Ilford, Essex, from an Aqua Show in Bournemouth. This became the favourite piece of equipment at the school, and they were invited to do a demonstration at the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1956 Ted Blake became Managing Director of a branch of the Nissen Trampoline Company which was set up in England to cope with the British and European markets.

And so on to Europe.... In 1957 Kurt Baechler of Switzerland, who was working in California at the time, flew to Cedar Rapids, signed for Nissen, and together with Frank LaDue worked out a basic introduction to trampolining. They then took the sport to schools in Germany and Switzerland, and set up the Swiss Headquarters of the Nissen Trampoline Corp. in Kurt's home town of Gumligen, Switzerland. In 1958, after a trampoline competition in Zurich, the first international Nissen Cup was held in the town of Wasen, during the month of August.
The very first Open Trampoline Competition in the UK was at a water carnival organised by the Ilford Diving Club in 1957. The winner on this occasion was an Ilford diver by the name of Mick Forge. It could be said that Mick was the first ever British trampoline champion. The first ever televised British Championships were in 1958, and the First (UK) National Trampoline Championships was held at Stanmore Park, Middlesex, UK in 1959. The first World Championships were held in London in 1964. It was Bob Bollinger of Rockford, Illinois who revolutionized judging of trampolining, introducing a system that is still being used today (with only a few modifications) separating the difficulty from the evaluation of the execution.

Soon after the first World Championships in 1964, the inaugural meeting of prominent trampolinists was held in Frankfurt to explore the formation of an International Trampoline Federation. In 1965 in Twickenham, the Federation was formally recognised as the International Governing Body for the sport. By 1969 the first European Championship was held in Paris and Paul Luxon of London was the winner at the age of 18. The ladies winner was Ute Czech from Germany. From that time onwards, European and World Championships have taken place in alternate years - the European in the odd and the World in the even. In 1990, Ron Froehlich (USA) takes over the Presidency. In 1998, the I.O.C. accepted the F.I.T. as a federation. The F.I.T. then underwent fundamental changes. Its structures were dissolved and as of January 1, 1999, Trampoline became a F.I.G. (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) discipline. Horst Kunze (GER) retained the Chair of the Technical Committee. And then in 2000 Trampoline became "Olympic" in Sydney, Australia.
Tumbling's competitive roots go back even further than that of Trampolining. It was even an Olympic Sport in 1932 when F. Wolfe, USA, was the winner. It was in 1976 that the FIT introduced Tumbling to its disciplines.
The third FIT discipline is Double-Mini Trampolining, which has only emerged as a branch of Trampolining since the mid 1970's. Double Mini-Trampoline competition was added in 1978. The first double-mini trampoline began as two individual mini-tramps, separated by a small table covered by a mat. Later, a one-piece unit was developed by Bob Bollinger and is used today as the official equipment for that event.
References: "Trampolining A Complete Handbook" by Dennis E Horne, 1968
"The History of Trampolining" by Rob Walker, 2000
"Larry Griswold ....The Diving Fool" by Lani Lokendahle, World Acrobatics Society Newsletter, August 1997
"How Trampoline & Mini Trampoline Came to Europe" by Peter River, FIT News, April 1994


We've all heard how trampolining started in the USA, UK and Europe, but what about Australia....?

Trampolining in Australia started in the late 50s, with a few ex-gymnasts seeing trampolines and trampolining in magazines etc from the USA and UK. This resulted in a couple of trampolines being made here in Australia, one in NSW, and one in Victoria. These trampolines were about 20 feet long, made of 3 inch pipe and were fixed frame ones which were bolted together. Consequently, they had to be taken apart and re-assembled each time they were used. They had the traditional shock cord instead of springs, using just one length that was threaded round the whole trampoline. In the early days the beds were made of canvas, but in the late 50s this was changed to the now familiar woven string bed. A couple of web beds were imported from the US by Allan Ploughman who was the Nissen agent for Australia, but these were rather expensive.
The NSW Association was formed in 1960, with Fred Austin being one of the founding members. The first State Championships of any kind in Australia were held at the YMCA in Pitt St, Sydney NSW in 1961, where Fred competed at the tender age of 29, and Bob Young was placed first. Victoria also held a competition later that year, but it was more of an interclub. Victoria held their first State Championships in 1962. Bob Young placed first at the 1962 NSW Championships. Soon after, Bob went to Gosford to coach Gymnastics and Trampoline at the Gosford Boys and Girls Club. In 1963 he returned to Sydney to start his own business and get married. Fred Austin took over from Bob at Gosford and spent many happy and productive years teaching there. Bob also taught Gymnastics and Trampolining at the Taren Point Boys and Girls club in Sydney and at various YMCA and Police Boys clubs up until the age of 40 when he had to retire from teaching due to a bout of ill health. Gymnastics and Trampolining where a major part of Bob Young's life and it was at the YMCA tumbling and Trampolining classes that he met his wife who helped run the classes at some of the coaching venues over the years.

References: Phone interview with Fred Austin 9 Nov 2003, and emails from Bob Young 24 Aug 2012

* If you have any more information about the history of trampolining in Australia, please email me as I'd love to flesh out this section! *

World Championship Results

Year & PlaceIndividual - MaleIndividual - Female
1964 London, Great BritainDanny Millman (USA)Judy Wills Cline (USA)
1965 London, Great BritainGary Erwin (USA)Judy Wills Cline (USA)
1966 Lafayette LA, USAWayne Miller (USA)Judy Wills Cline (USA)
1967 London, Great BritainDavid Jacobs (USA)Judy Wills Cline (USA)
1968 Amersfoort, NetherlandsDavid Jacobs (USA)Judy Wills Cline (USA)
1970 Bern, SwitzerlandWayne Miller (USA)Renee Ramson (USA)
1972 Stuttgart, GermanyPaul Luxon (GBR)Alexandra Nicholson (USA)
1974 Johannesburg, South AfricaRichard Tison (FRA)Alexandra Nicholson (USA)
1976 Tulsa OK, USAEugeni Janes (URS) & Richard Tison (FRA)Svetlana Levina (URS)
1978 Newcastle, AustraliaEugeni Janes (URS)Tatiana Anisimova (URS)
1980 Brig, SwitzerlandStewart Matthews (GBR)Ruth Keller (SWI)
1982 Bozeman MO, USACarl Furrer (GBR)Ruth Keller (SWI)
1984 Osaka, JapanLionel Pioline (FRA)Susan Shotton (GBR)
1986 Paris, FranceLionel Pioline (FRA)Tatiana Lushina (URS)
1988 Birmingham AL, USAVadim Krasnochapka (URS)Rusudan Khoperia (URS)
1990 Essen, GermanyAlexander Moskalenko (RUS)Elena Merkulova (RUS)
1992 Auckland, New ZealandAlexander Moskalenko (RUS)Elena Merkulova (RUS)
1994 Porto, PortugalAlexander Moskalenko (RUS)Irina Karavaeva (RUS)
1996 Vancouver, CanadaDimitri Poliarush (BLR)Tatiana Kovaleva (RUS)
1998 Sydney, AustraliaGerman Knytshev (RUS)Irina Karavaeva (RUS)
1999 Sun City, South AfricaAlexander Moskalenko (RUS)Irina Karavaeva (RUS)
2001 Odense, DenmarkAlexander Moskalenko (RUS)Anna Dogonadze-Lilkendey (GER)
2003 Hannover, GermanyHenrik Stehlik (GER)Karen Cockburn (CAN)
2005 Eindhoven, NetherlandsAlexander Rusako (RUS)Irina Karavaeva (RUS)
2007 Quebec, CanadaYe Shuai (CHN)Irina Karavaeva (RUS)
2009 St Petersburg, RussiaDong Dong (CHN)Huang Shanshan (CHN)
2010 Metz, FranceDong Dong (CHN)Li Dan (CHN)
2011 Birmingham, UKLu Chunlong (CHN)He Wenna (CHN)
2013 Sofia, Bulgaria

George Nissen
My Hero!
The man who started it all:
George Nissen
(Photo taken Sydney 2000)

Bob on Tramp 1962
Bob on the Tramp after the competition in 1962. Taken in the YMCA Gym in Pitt St Sydney.

Bob Tramp Gosford
Bob playing around one night after work at the Gosford Boys and Girls Club 1963

Joy Bob and Isabell
Bob (top) Bob's wife Joy (left) 1962

YMCA Gymnastics team c1962
YMCA Gymnastics team circa 1962. Fred Austin is 2nd from the left, Bob third from the left.

Bob YMCA reference
Letter from YMCA confirming both of Bob's wins (1961 and 1962).