“spring free” trampolines

Friends just bought a backyard trampoline.

Straight off, as a gymnastics professional, I advise everyone against backyard trampolines. I am surprised they are still legal in Canada.

Kids should do trampoline only under the supervision of trained coaches on properly maintained equipment.

If you insist on putting a dangerous trampoline in your yard, consider a trampoline without springs. For example, the Spring Free SF90E.

sf90.jpg

As backyard tramps go, I am impressed. This company is focused on safety.

Eliminating the springs is a great innovation!

But I dispute the company’s claim that “SpringFree is the Safe Trampoline!”.

It’s a safer trampoline. But the reaction force from the elastic bed can still injure children.

UPDATE: Check the comments below:

“in two weeks my son severely fractured his ankle”.

53 comments ↓

#1 Harold on 08.14.06 at 6:47 pm

If you ring the Australian Office of SpringFree, they say the world’s ONLY SAFE TRAMPOLINE – this is of course complete rubbish.

#2 Doug Hill on 11.30.06 at 3:17 pm

Hi,
While I had nothing to do with the design of the SpringFree trampoline, I was associated with the development of this product in its genesis at the University of Canterbury, and should declare a possible conflict of interest in responding, as I continue to assist the company in its market development. The design objective was to remove all of the traditional “impact zones” that the status quo design exposed jumpers too. I’m not a soft tissue injury expert, so can’t really comment on that, other than to say the vast majority of trampoline induced injuries (to which the springfree design was responding) were statistically focused on the impact with the frame (padded or not – fractures still happened), impact with steel coil springs, and falling off onto hard surfaces.

More recent additions to old style trampolines now include frame padding and a range of different enclosure net designs. Impact testing confirms that so long as a manufacturer is prepared to invest in applying around 10-12 inches of high quality closed cell foam to the frame, with an appropriately maintainable fastening system, then traditional design trampolines can deliver the same impact absorption characteristics as those delivered by SpringFree’s patented soft edge system. The fact is that most old style trampoline purchasing decsions are made pretty much solely on price, so there is a built-in incentive for manufacturers to invest less in impact protective padding, not more. The result is easy to see in the market – the average thickness of foam is around 25mm and is of a quality that degrades rapidly with actual impact. Our test results suggest that a traditional designed trampoline with 25mm of protective frame padding represents an HIC (Head Injury Criteria) rating of ~1000, vs the SpringFree soft edge rating of ~77. The difference is a statistical likelihood of a fracture in 99% of cases where an impact with the padded frame occurs, vs less than 1% with the SpringFree edge system.

At this stage, statistical comparisons in the injury prevention effects of the safety nets used on tradtional trampolines (employing a padded steel pole skeleton construction) vs SpringFree’s fully deformable flexibile net system are in their early stages, however, again, padded steel appears to represent increased injury risk vs. a design that absorbs impact by deforming in all planes.

So, the SpringFree view is that the vast majority of trampoline generated injury data suggests that the SpringFree design has completely removed the “impact zones” implicated in the traditional design “equipment induced” injuries.

If that is true, then that means injury risk on the SpringFree is limited to the reaction forces mentioned, or mis-use activities. SpringFree is increasingly working with interest groups in the development of effective trampoline education tools that further minimise these risk.

I don’t expect you to publish this, but in response to Harold’s comment, I think it is fair to say that from an equipment induced injury perspective, SpringFree IS the world’s only safe backyard trampoline.

#3 Peter Garnsey on 01.11.07 at 12:48 pm

I am thinking of buying a Springfree for my daughter age 7, she is an aspiring gymnast and wants to learn tricks, what about the amount of bounce of a Springfree. I have seen a lot of web pages devoted to the Springfree with photos of people sitting on them, against the net, etc but am yet to see a photo of a child bouncing on them. What I am concerned about is that it is not bouncy, just an enclosed play area???

#4 coach Rick on 01.13.07 at 6:01 pm

I have worked with kids on this trampoline.

Forward and backward somersaulting is very doable.

That said, most gymnasts will tell you that the “spring free” system is “dead”.

I think it would be very beneficial for a light, 7-year-old child.

But when she is 13 or so, she would likely not bother using it for skills, only for “fun”.

Rick McCharles,
editor GymnasticsCoaching.com

#5 Dan on 01.07.08 at 1:57 pm

I am looking at purchasing the springfree trampoline for my young kids. They work out at Chow’s where Shawn Johnson practices, she’s amazing.
My question is will the bigger springfree offer more of a bounce than the smaller ones or is it the other way around.
Thanks

#6 coach Rick on 01.08.08 at 12:40 am

Good question, Dan.

Neither will be “springy” as they are spring free.

Best test both sizes with the weight of children and compare.

The larger one will be no more safe, so that is not a factor.

#7 Gymnastics Coaching » Blog Archive » Dr. Torg - all trampolines should be banned on 01.14.08 at 5:24 pm

[…] And until backyard trampolines are made illegal, I reluctantly recommend the safest tramp on the market: The “Springfree”. […]

#8 Ingrid on 01.22.08 at 12:45 pm

The comment in the originating mesage,

“It’s a safer trampoline. But the reaction force from the elastic bed can still injure children.” makes sense to me.

We purchased a spring free trampoline and within two weeks my son severely fractured his ankle. Unfortunatly we did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and let two people of unequal weight to jump at the same time. There were no collisions, but they were putting quite a bit of effort into their jumps, which I think has something to do with the fact that the tramp has a softer bounce, so you have to work it harder to achieve the same height you would expect from a regular tramp. I am no engineer, but I am guessing, when you work the bed of tramp harder, the reaction force or energy transfer behind each jump is greater. The reaction force behind one jumper “coming up” as the other was “going down” was enough to severly fracture and dislocate the lighter jumper’s ankle. So having learned it the hard way, I would like to reinforce to the readers of this message, do not become complacement by the manufacturers claims to have built a “safe trampoline” and neglet to follow all of the regular trampoline safety rules, especially, for this type of trampoline, the “one at time” rule. PS: of the several people I know, that own a trampoline, none enforce the “one at time” rule.

#9 Ann on 02.24.08 at 8:03 pm

Hi, I’ve been told the Large Circle Springfree SF90E is a lot firmer to bounce. And the Springfree Capsule SF60E has a lot more bounce, and is prefered by gymnastics???

#10 ryan on 03.31.08 at 8:46 pm

There is also a different type of springless trampoline for sale under the name airzone more traditional design but I have been told much more bounce

#11 coach Rick on 03.31.08 at 11:22 pm

Thanks Ann.

I checked out the Airzone:

http://www.airzonetrampolines.com/

Not really enough information on the website to render judgment.

I don’t like the technique described on this tip, though:

http://www.airzonetrampolines.com/trampolines/tips3.html

#12 truckerhucker on 05.06.09 at 7:18 am

Why the push for trampolines to be illegal in canada? I guess your the type of person that wants terrain parks to be taking out of skiing and kids shouldent have diving boards at pools and stuff
you safety natzi totally piss me off.

#13 Randy Field on 10.05.09 at 1:19 am

I had the opportunity to try a square 13' Springfree trampoline and an Alley Oop Double Bounce trampoline right next to each other in a showroom today. The Springfree seemed to have a slightly better bounce to both me (190 lbs) and my nearly seven-year-old son compared to the Alley Oop. So, in my mind, claims to the contrary are pure hogwash and are blatantly biased. Neither one seemed to offer dramatically more safety than the other as both seemed to have subtle, but obvious-to-me, drawbacks leading me to conclude that if it's fun, it's dangerous. I'm no expert, but I'm very well educated and have read many claims, but have seen little objective information out there.

#14 rickmcchar38891 on 10.05.09 at 1:56 am

I like your conclusion. "If it's fun, it's dangerous …"

Lot of truth to that.

#15 Jake on 10.14.09 at 4:21 pm

I would see it is great innovation that eliminate springs, but I still feel worried about the “finger cut”, so base on it, I prefer the “cloth spring”, like this http://www.lifespantrampolines.com.au/Spring-free-trampolines.html, anyway, different people have different choice.

#16 Doctor Rogina on 11.02.09 at 1:54 am

Hello, I am Doctor Rogina. I am a GP and have been one for almost 17 years now. I have seen many kids who have broken their arms or legs, jumping on trampolines. The first thing I ask them is, “Was it spring free?”
About 80% reply no, and I, being a mother of two, have bought my children a spring free trampoline, as I think it is safer than the traditional kinds. Please, do not take my advice as an advertising helping hand in any way, but I highly recommend the spring free trampolines. They have no springs to poke up through the bouncy mat, and a safety enclosure that kids can have both fun jumping against and less chance of an injury. My oldest child’s friend’s sister bounced too high on a springy trampoline and as a result she fell off and hit her head on concrete. She was in hospital for almost 6 months trying to get over the injury and become herself again. PLEASE do not buy the traditional springy trampolines, you could save a life.

#17 Olivia on 12.25.09 at 10:04 am

Hi, i was wondering, not for safty purposes, but i am going to buy a trampoline. I was wondering if the spring free one was better for just bouncing with friends? This is just going to be for fun. I want the bouncyest trampoline there is, so is the spring free one a good choice?

#18 coach Rick on 12.25.09 at 12:33 pm

No, the Springfree is less bouncy. One of the reasons it is slightly safer.

#19 DMowatt on 04.04.10 at 3:01 am

Dr Rogina, you give the medical profession a bad name……of course 80% reply no, it should of course be higher as the ratio of trad to springfree tramps must be about 98:2. The vast majority of serious injuries are from coming off tramps, collisions and whiplash type bed reaction injuries. Do some proper science if you are going to recommend one over the other.

#20 momto4 on 06.08.10 at 5:46 pm

I have owned the spring free tramp for 3 years now and guess what……NO BROKEN BONES. But I will tell you my friends kid broke her arm last week playing in her back yard. With that said nothing is safe 100%. Kids are kids and will get hurt. If your kid can break his ankle just jumping then thats talent and if he can do it jumping on a trampoline then he can do it jumping on the ground with a skipping rope. Heres an idea by your kids a bubble to live in if this trampoline is your life’s biggest worries

#21 Jumping Jack on 08.13.10 at 9:38 pm

I am not expert in gymnastics or tumbling but my friend has a trampoline in his backyard and I go over and jump on it all the time. It is not a spring free… its a normal one. To be safe on ANY trampoline you NEED to have an outer net, spring covered (friend has an extra thick covering 2″ thick), poles covered (friend has the same type of padding for the spring over the poles) and ONLY ONE PERSON AT A TIME ON THE TRAMPOLINE! Once you add even one extra person on the tramp (even if they are not jumping) the % chance of someone getting hurt sky rockets. If you go out and buy extra padding for the hard spots and spring the chances of you getting hurt go way down. Trampolines are very safe people. If you follow these the “one person at a time” rule and add the extra padding you are extremely safe. The only way to hurt yourself is if YOU or your child does something stupid.

And if you are a control freak and think that a trampoline should be outlawed then teach your kids to play a nice game of chess…

#22 Nil Einne on 10.11.10 at 1:22 pm

Doctor Rogina: As a doctor, I hope I don’t need to tell you that the fact 80% of people with trampoline injuries you see aren’t springfree ones is fairly meaningless. If for example 95% of your potential patients have non spring free trampolines and 5% have springfree ones this doesn’t say much for the safety of springfree trampolines. Of course even if you did have such statistics, you’ve still failed to consider confounding factors. For example, perhaps on average a parent who buys a springfree trampoline is more safety concious so supervises and sets better rules for their children then the average for a parent who buys a non spring free trampoline. Or perhaps parents who buy a springfree trampolines think they are safe so conversely don’t bother to properly supervise and set proper rules for their children.

#23 Blake Stephens on 11.29.10 at 12:38 pm

In response to comment by Randy Field.
“I had the opportunity to try a square 13′ Springfree trampoline and an Alley Oop Double Bounce”

Saying that a square trampoline bounces better than a round one is recognized anywhere in the industry. So when you compared the 13′ Square Springfree to Alleyoop round trampoline I am not surprised that the square had a better bounce. When you mention the Square Springfree only has a “slightly better bounce” than a traditional trampoline with springs it shows how poor the bounce is on a Springfree. A square trampoline with springs will have significantly more bounce than a standard round trampoline so If comparing apple to apples a Square traditional trampoline will outperform a Square springfree anyday.

#24 Alex on 06.06.11 at 9:07 pm

Ok, so my family just bought one of these trampolines, and it comes tomorrow. I freestyle ski (in the terrain park and off of jumps) and I was wondering if these trampolines are bouncy enough to practice inverts and double inverts.

#25 coach Rick on 06.07.11 at 1:34 am

They are not very ‘springy’, actually. You’ll need to try it.

#26 Claire on 07.04.11 at 12:01 am

I am 13 and I am trying to convince my parents to buy me a trampoline. They are all about safety and they arent really into the whole backyard trampoline thing. I just want to know if a springfree trampoline is safe enough for me and my family to play on. Im not interested in dong stunts or anything too dangerous, but as I said, my parents are worried about us getting hurt. I just need to know if the springfree trampoline is a quality and safe option.

#27 coach Rick on 07.04.11 at 12:04 am

It’s the safest of dangerous options. Better would be for you to go practice at a club. You’d learn 1000 times faster, as well.

#28 Patricia on 12.10.11 at 9:47 pm

Question for coach Rick
we are going to buy a springfree and are tossing up between the 2nd largest and largest trampoline (the jumbo) they have. Would you recommend one over the other for gymnastics training?
Many thanks

#29 coach Rick on 12.10.11 at 10:30 pm

I have no preference. Both are quite “dead” = safe.

Therefore, I’d go for the least expensive.

#30 Patricia on 12.10.11 at 11:02 pm

if two of them were to be jumping on it 2yr and 3yr old – would it be safer for them to be on the larger one? many thanks for your help!

#31 coach Rick on 12.11.11 at 5:12 am

We never allow more than one gymnast at a time. But it certainly does happen, in the wild.

#32 Tim on 02.27.12 at 6:22 pm

I am 45 and my kids are from 4 to 13 (5 of them ) and we have had an sf90 since 2006. My kids and I can do flips in the air landing on our feet both backwards and forwards. I am 100 kilograms.

It is the best (as far as reduced risk is concerned) tramp on the market. I first leant about it when I saw some new friends with one which they bought for their blind daughter and their blind daughter loved it, it was so safe.

I am sure you can get bouncier tramps and that is great but in terms of bounce the higher you go, the greater the risk etc. Most people who I have spoken to try and justify not buying one based on the price but they use all sorts of other excuses about pads etc on other tramps, but at the end of the day the springfree is on average twice the price of another desent sprung trampoline with net etc, the real differnce is that even those sprung tramps do not have the required level of padding thickness and quality and the rigid net pole is a great risk itself.

I let all my kids on at once (with me included but obviously I am very careful with my bounce etc) and sure sometimes there is a collision which causes some crying etc but no broken bits yet.

Anyway if you can show me a better value safety tramp then please link me to it cause I have not seen or tried a better one yet. I paid 1400 odd dollars back in 06 and it is by FAR THE BEST FUN TIME VALUE FOR MONEY i HAVE EVER SPENT FOR THE KIDS. Hurt my wallet at the time but its the best.

#33 Ted on 03.09.12 at 2:35 pm

I remember stealing someone’s bounce (who was better than me) when I was a kid and that was one of the best feelings I have ever had. I don’t know how I survived my childhood compared to the expected safety of today, I.e. racing (skiing, biking) with no helmet. At least they won’t give us a ticket for having more than one person on the trampoline yet :). I understand the coach, but fun and physical literacy can be gained from uncontroled play too. I defeinately do not like thinking my kids are in a bubble, but the trampolines themselves almost look like a bubble these days. Anyways, they seem safe enough to me, as compared to walking down the street. As for the bounce, it sounds like they still work but a little more effort is involved – which is a win win in the sense that its safer and more of a work-out. My kids will still play chess but they will still launch themselves off rediculously large jumps. If we do not allow our kids to figure this stuff out for themselves, then Canada will eventually have a poorer showing in the olympics. Perhaps safety has to do with “smarts” as opposed to following precise procedural rules like robots. Risks are tolerable if you are prepared both physically and mentally, teach your kids.

#34 Freeskier on 03.24.12 at 5:51 pm

Spring free tramps have no bounce at all. i am a freeskier and they are not good for practicing. This is my opinion.

#35 JM on 04.25.12 at 3:18 pm

http://www.trampolinesafety.com/springfree-sf90e

Shows that SpringFree causes rotation, and knee damage. For those of us with bad knees to begin with, this could be a disaster. They rate AlleyOop Double Bounce much safer.

#36 Trampoline on 04.28.12 at 1:45 am

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#37 skivt on 07.23.12 at 9:55 am

Why is everyone saying springfree tramps aren’t as bouncy? I have personally owned the large square springfree and a white bed olympic trampoline and my springfree is almost as bouncy as the olympic and much safer. The bounce on the springfree is much softer and is very different from the traditional trampoline and I find it easier on my knees and back.
I recently saw a video on youtube of someone cutting a carrot between the rods. I tried this with my 220 pound dad jumping onto the edge and emerged without broken or missing fingers.
I am a freestyle skier and the springfree is byfar my favorite to practice on.

#38 Ellie on 01.21.13 at 8:46 am

I’ve had a proper trampoline in my backyard for over 10 years. My daughter has jumped in the rain, the ice and the snow; not one single broken bone or cut.

As soon as we got the spring free on my daughter slipped and fractured her knee. Ended her trampolining career. I’d advise you stick with what you know.

If you’ve never had a spring trampoline go spring free. If not then stick with what you’re used to. Sometimes the change can be too great and totally throw people off.

#39 trampoline on 03.23.13 at 1:23 pm

How many people can bounce on the trampoline at the same time?

#40 Alenalalala on 04.27.13 at 4:07 pm

I am looking into getting a trampoline, and I want a safe one as well, nut this “spring free” trampoline looks safe, nut everyone is saying that you have to put much effort to bounce. I want one I will be able to train on for Gymnastycs/cheer. I want something bouncy. Also, I have heard that square tramps are much bouncier, is this true? And can you direct me to a safe (with a net) and bouncy trampoline, good for gymnastics and cheer stunts?

#41 coach Rick on 04.27.13 at 7:41 pm

Yeesh.

That’s a tough ask.

All backyard tramps are quite “dead”, Spring Free perhaps the deadest.

Best bet would be to train at a gymnastics or trampoline club.

#42 Jenni on 06.24.13 at 6:31 am

I’m sorry, you lost me at “Straight off, as a gymnastics professional, I advise everyone against backyard trampolines. ” Would you also advise we cut down all the trees in our yard, lest our children sustain an injury by climbing them? The highest risk to the health of our children is denying fun, free, unscheduled physical activity – just take a look at the rising global rates of child obesity… So, thank you, but I shall insist on a dangerous trampoline in my backyard. I will investigate spring-free.

#43 HuBinator on 10.30.13 at 9:10 am

I have had a Springfree for a year, and have been very pleased with it. We done everything wrong, too – that is, put a few people on it, put people on of different weights, put bouncy balls in at the same time, water balloons, etc., and have had no problems. The only annoying thing is that the net keeps slipping off at the top, so it needs clips or something for each pole – send any suggestions…

#44 Dana on 03.23.14 at 7:57 pm

As you mentioned, no trampoline is 100% safe but Springfree has done a great job in improving the safety standards of a traditional trampoline. I advise anyone to pay the extra money (as they are quite expensive in comparison) for a Springfree because it truly is worth the investment. I’m also looking into Vuly Trampolines, but don’t know much about them yet.

#45 Grant on 04.07.14 at 3:53 pm

My son nearly broke his nose slipping while climbing on the school play structure. Any stats on play structure injuries and perhaps we should dismantle these? I sure hope my Springfree trampoline doesn’t cause injuries, but I’m also hoping the kid’s downhill skiiing, snow boarding, water skiing, tubing, hockey, exploring outside at the lake, diving, gymnastics also don’t cause injury. My sister needed knee surgery becuase of her competitive gymnastics. I think all we can do is put some decent supervision in place then hope for the best as parents.

#46 Lou on 04.25.14 at 12:21 am

We are going to get a spring free on Saturday for our family. I have read and watched everything I possibly could find on the net and still believe the safest tramp is the spring free and their staff I have called twice just to ask questions….super amazing staff!
My dilemma is 8×13 or 13×13 square or oval?
If anyone could give input…please let me know. We are a family of 4 my kids are 2 and 4 and like I said before this is a family trampoline. What shape would be best suited?

#47 Michelle on 05.20.14 at 4:59 pm

I think it all depends on your backyard space. We are considering the large oval 8 x 13. I am also decong between spring free and alley oop. I think 2 best on market.

#48 John D on 06.14.14 at 1:17 am

Wondering if Coach Rick still prefers the Springfree line over the AlleyOop Variable Bounce line in terms of overall safety quotient…?

Thanks.

#49 coach Rick on 06.14.14 at 5:51 am

I’m against all backyard trampolines. Instead spend that same money to send kids to a club with trampolines and trampoline coaches.

#50 John on 07.01.14 at 8:09 pm

Most of the reviews of the Springfree trampoline you read here will tell you that the kids loved it and it was fun and safe etc. This is all true and you don’t need to read that again. So, I’ll tell you about things you don’t see in the other reviews. Things I wish I knew about.

Yes, it is built well with good solid steel frame and robust welds, all powder coated. It has to be solid to withstand the huge torque placed on it by the torsion rods. Once assembled the trampoline is rigid and light enough that I can move it to move the lawn underneath it by myself. The fiberglass rods are all covered with protective sleeves to prevent you from getting those nasty fibers in your skin (be careful to not touch the bare rods).

Now to set the record straight on a few things:

Because of its unconventional design it does not feel like a conventional trampoline. The edges to not move down when you jump near them (the rod ends move in). Consequently the spring constant (bouncyness) is not the same everywhere on the bed, unlike a conventional trampoline. Also, since the edges don’t move down, the bed tilts significantly near the edges and only reacts vertically in the center. Some marketing hype claims that there is more “usable area” in the spring free design, but that really depends on how much horizontal deflection you can put up with. Certainly 10 to 20 cm from the edges is “unusable” in my book.

Is it bouncy? The springfree site shows Olympic trampolinists jumping as high as their own height on a springfree trampoline. To some this might seem pretty high, but consider that athletes at this level typically jump 3 or 4 times this high, you get an accurate measure of the bounce compared to a “real” trampoline. This could be good or bad based on your perspective. Certainly I would not recommend the full bounce of a “real” trampoline for novices – they would hurt themselves for sure. But if you are used to a competitive or “real” you will be disappointed. It takes a lot of work to get any significant height, and the large amount of damping means that it is very hard or impossible to string several moves together (e.g. a 10 move routine).

As far as safety goes, it seems pretty safe. There is one site that shows people breaking carrots between the torsion rods. I could not come close to doing this jumping as hard as I could near the edge, but I only weigh 165 lbs. I don’t think this is a serious problem. One thing that is not mentioned is that around the edge the rods fit into plastic bushings, and this forms a hard region around the edge of the trampoline that you can hurt yourself on. Note that the safety net bows in significantly so you won’t be standing too near the edge usually.
There are some sites/reviews that claims there is an unacceptable twisting action in this design. Yes, there is a twisting action but it is not that bad on my model. I find the bed/ tilt as I move away from the center far more annoying and probably more likely to cause joint damage.

In conclusion, yes the kids love it, yes it is well made, safe and fun, but knowing what I know now, I would have purchased a conventional design instead. But I do use the trampoline myself, and I don’t think many other parents are using their trampolines very seriously.

I am a gymnast, coach and physicist.

#51 coach Rick on 07.02.14 at 7:29 am

THANKS John. Appreciate the feedback.

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Every trampoline owner and user should know the skills and safety information presented on our video. No prudent person would buy scuba or rock climbing gear without investing in basic instruction. Make this same safety investment for your trampoline. A home trampoline is not a toy. It should best be used with informed respect.

#53 TrampolinePuss on 12.13.14 at 6:46 am

If buying a trampoline then just make sure that you buy one with enclosure net included.

Most accidents happen solely because there is no enclosure and people fell off a trampoline. Pretty stupid…

Also, if children are jumping they can not be left on trampoline without supervision as trampolines are not a kindergarten.

And regarding smaller children and toddlers there are quite safe trampolines designed solely for them and with minimum possibility of injury.

Check some reviews of trampolines for kids

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