There’s some confusion among newcomers to the world of tumbling: Some of them aren’t sure about the difference between an air track and a trampoline. They wonder whether it’s the same thing, and what types of skills they can practice using them.
Let’s set the record straight: An air track is not the same as a trampoline. We’ll explain both devices in this article, showing you their differences and similarities.
The reason air tracks and trampolines are sometimes used interchangeably is that both trampolining and tumbling are gymnastic disciplines.
What Is Trampoline Gymnastics?
Trampoline gymnastics is an Olympic sport where gymnasts bounce on a trampoline and perform acrobatic tricks. It’s also called trampolining, and it consists of several activities, including tumbling.
Trapeze artists who performed their art bouncing on a safety net inspired the well-known gymnast and inventor, George Nissen, to create the first trampoline back in the 1930s. Very soon, trampolines became popular entertainment devices, as well as part of many schools’ gym equipment.
What Is Tumbling?
Tumbling involves different skills such as running, jumping, skipping, somersaulting, twisting, flipping on hands and feet, and it basically looks like this: An athlete moves along a tumbling mat, doing a series of acrobatic and gymnast moves, showing off their skill level.
The beauty of tumbling is in constant competition with oneself, trying to perfect challenging tricks and having amazing fun in the process.
Tumbling is performed on the floor or traditional tumbling mat, but with the appearance of air tracks, it got a new dimension – it became much more fun and much safer for use.
Air Tracks vs. Trampolines – Which Equipment to Choose?
Air tracks are inflatable gym mats that vary in length, but are usually at least 3 meters long. They are quickly inflated with an air pump and can be used on any flat surface, indoors or outdoors.
Air tracks’ increasing popularity is due to their bounciness, and the fact that practicing challenging moves is safer on air tracks than on the floor or regular padded mats.
Trampolines look much different from air tracks. They are made of tight fabric that is stretched between a steel frame using cords or springs.
Though both air tracks and trampolines can be used for improving agility, balance and strength, trampolines provide a more subdued bounce and cannot be used for doing tumbling tricks in succession.
Air tracks are also a more flexible piece of equipment, because you can move them around and take anywhere for practice, while trampolines are heavier and not easily movable due to the steel construction.
Finally, air tracks provide more safety because gymnasts’ can get injured on the trampoline’s metal frame or springs.
We encourage all enthusiastic athletes to use trampolines and air tracks for entertainment and for practicing acrobatics – they really enhance the experience and give you extra confidence to do the tricks right.
If you prefer one over the other, that’s totally fine. Just enjoy today’s day and age that gave us these wonderful devices to fly.