The question often arises as to whether trampolines and tumble tramps are good learning device and progressions for regular gymnasts. Some coaches and gymnasts feel that since it is so much easier to learn skills on apparatus that provides more air-time that it is of little or even negative value.
Additional air-time provides gymnasts the opportunity to learn the skill faster and with less chance of crashing the landing. The additional air-time has the effect of allowing more conscious thought directed muscle movement to have time to occur. As the skill is learned and becomes implanted in the brain, less air-time is needed. This refining and implanting of the skill will take place automatically with repetition.
Enough Air-Time to Learn and Do Skill Correctly
The imprinting process, which occurs over time, is aided initially by the extra air-time, because it allows the skill to be performed correctly so it can be burned in the brain correctly. Attempting to learn skills on the floor first could lead to incorrect initial performance techniques designed to keep from crashing. These incorrect patterns could be burned in the brain and be difficult habit patterns to break later.
Skill Refinement Time
Additional air-time allows for skill refinement to more easily take place. Trying out new skill techniques is difficult on floor when it is easy to run out of air.
Trampolines Give Safe Softer Landings
Repeated crashing of skills create a negative psychological attitude, in addition to being a danger of injury. Trampoline and the tumble tramp are softer landing surfaces and will give. They are, therefore, safer to learn on at all times, but especially during the initial learning process.
Do It Here – Do It Anywhere
In essence, a skill learned is a skill learned. The difference between performing a skill on the competition floor and the trampoline or tumble tramp boils down to time in the air. You must complete the skill more quickly on the regular floor mat.
More Repetitions in Less Time
Trampoline, in particular, allows increased repetitions of skills to be performed in shorter periods of time. Skill repetition can be useful in the learning process and to improve consistency.
Ten Double Backs in a Minute
For example, how many double backs can be practiced in a one minute period on the floor? The energy level required to do the skill alone will limit it to at most probably two in one minute and more likely one a minute would be a great result. On trampoline, a gymnast could do 10 – 12 double backs on tramp in a minute and not be tired or winded in the least.
Consistency, Air Awareness and Kinesthetic Awareness
Five to ten times more skills per minute on a trampoline for advanced tumbling skills is not unheard of. This is a tremendous training opportunity. Increased skill consistency, air awareness and kinesthetic awareness all will increase with the increased repetitions.
Practice Longer without Over-stressing the Body
Finally, the softer surface landing can allow longer practice periods with less wear and tear on the body. There are not going to be any repetitive stress injuries on the trampoline surface like you may very well get on the regular floor if the tumbling practice is too ambitious.
Tramp Now, Floor Later
There is no doubt that mastering the skills thoroughly on the competition floor surface is a necessary part of the competitive preparation process. It is just not the only way or even the best way in the early stages of learning the skill or when the goal is to increase consistency and air awareness through maximum possible repetitions of the skill.