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A trampoline is a device consisting of a piece of taut, strong fabric stretched between a steel frame using many coiled springs. People bounce on trampolines for recreational and competitive purposes.
The fabric that users bounce on (commonly known as the "bounce mat" or "trampoline bed") is not elastic itself; the elasticity is provided by the springs that connect it to the frame, which store potential energy.
The frame of a competitive trampoline is made of steel and can be made to fold up for transportation to competition venues. The trampoline bed is rectangular 4.28 by 2.14 metres (14 ft 1 in × 7 ft 0 in) in size fitted into the 5.05 by 2.91 metres (17 ft × 10 ft) frame  with around 110 steel springs (the actual number may vary by manufacturer). The bed is made of a strong fabric, although this is not itself elastic; the elasticity is provided only by the springs. The fabric can be woven from webbing, which is the most commonly used material. However, in the 2007 World Championships held in Quebec City, a Ross bed (or two-string bed), woven from individual thin strings, was used. This type of bed gives a little extra height to the rebound.
Using a trampoline can be dangerous. Organized clubs and gyms usually have large safety end-decks with foam pads at each end, and spotters are placed alongside the trampoline to try to break the fall of any athlete who loses control and falls. In 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were 100,000 hospital emergency room visits for trampoline injuries.
Due to the much larger numbers involved and lesser safety standards, the majority of injuries occur on privately owned home trampolines or in commercial trampoline facilities rather than organized gyms.
CBC Television's Marketplace discovered that the trampoline park industry is unregulated in Canada, with different standards for padding and foam pit depth, self-inspections and repairs, and not being required to report injuries. It was also noted that there were generally too few staff to enforce rules, and that promotional advertisements often showed participants engaging in somersaults even though this was extremely dangerous without proper training. All trampoline parks rely upon liability waivers, where signee assumes the risk of the activity including when injuries result from the establishment's own negligence or poorly maintained equipment, rather than beefing up safety standards and supervision.
Bouncing off a trampoline can result in a fall of 3–4 metres (10–13 ft) from the peak of a bounce to the ground or a fall into the suspension springs and frame. There has been an increase in the number of home trampolines in recent years and a corresponding increase in the number of injuries reported. Some medical organizations have suggested that the devices be banned from home use.
Authorities recommend that only one person should be allowed to jump at a time to avoid collisions and people being catapulted in an unexpected direction or higher than they expect. One of the most common sources of injury is when multiple users are bouncing on the trampoline at one time. More often than not, this situation leads to users bouncing into one another and thus becoming injured; many suffer broken bones as a result of landing badly after knocking into another user.
Recreational trampolines for home use are less sturdily constructed than competitive ones and their springs are weaker. They may be of various shapes, though most are circular, octagonal or rectangular. The fabric is usually a waterproof canvas or woven polypropylene material. As with competitive trampolines, recreational trampolines are usually made using coiled steel springs to provide the rebounding force, but spring-free trampolines also exist.
Trampoline activity has been used by science teachers to illustrate Newton's Three Laws of Motion, as well as the "elastic collision."
In co-operation with the University of Bremen and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the machtWissen.de Corporation from Bremen, Germany developed the weightlessness demonstrator "Gravity Jumper" based on a trampoline. Due to the acceleration during the jump, an acceleration force takes effect in addition to the usual gravitational force. Both forces add up and the person on the trampoline seems to become heavier. As soon as the jumper leaves the trampoline, he is under a free fall condition, which means that the jumper seems weightless and does not feel the acceleration due to gravity. Every person receives a three-axis acceleration sensor, fastened to them with a belt. The sensor transmits the data of the flight path to a monitor; a monitor shows the course of the acceleration, including the weightless phase. The interplay of acceleration due to the trampoline and weightlessness becomes apparent.
The first Trampoline World Championships were organised by Ted Blake of Nissen, and held in London in 1964. The first World Champions were both American, Dan Millman and Judy Wills Cline. Cline went on to dominate and become the most highly decorated trampoline champion of all time.
One of the earliest pioneers of trampoline as a competitive sport was Jeff Hennessy, a coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Hennessy also coached the United States trampoline team, producing more world champions than any other person. Among his world champions was his daughter, Leigh Hennessy. Both Jeff and Leigh Hennessy are in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
The competitive gymnastic sport of trampolining has been part of the Olympic Games since 2000. On a modern competitive trampoline, a skilled athlete can bounce to a height of up to 10 metres (33 ft), performing multiple somersaults and twists. Trampolines also feature in the competitive sport of Slamball, a variant of basketball, and Bossaball, a variant of volleyball.