There’s a lot of fun – and profit – in trampoline parks these days. When owners and operators say their joints are jumping, they really mean it! If the mood is to remain buoyant however, a significant amount of time must be spent on devising and enforcing safety protocols. Nothing is more of a downer than when injuries occur as a result of unsafe jumping practices. The following four facilities share their top safety tips.
Double jumping is frowned upon at facilities across the board and it’s certainly a no-no at Off The Wall Trampoline Fun Center in Coconut Creek, Fla. “Double bouncing is when injuries occur. Patrons not only crash into each other but can literally catapult someone off and hurt them pretty badly,” said General Manager Steve Chusid. The 35,500-square-foot Fun Center devotes over 5,000 square feet to open jump space, not to mention trampoline-centric dodge ball and slam dunk courts too. Horseplay is not tolerated anywhere and strict attention is paid to separating patrons by size, i.e. their height and weight. Ultimately, rule enforcement is the job of trampoline court monitors and at Off The Wall, these individuals receive ongoing training. There are written materials for them to review, videos to watch, tests and quizzes to take. “We want to make sure the people we hire know what they’re doing before getting out on the court to monitor patrons,” said Chusid.
Brothers Ron and Jerry Raymond launched their flagship Sky High Sports in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2006. Today, the duo lays claim to 15 locations across six states including California, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas. They didn’t reach that point without making safety their number one priority. This includes adhering to safety protocols set forth by two governing boards – the IATP (International Association of Trampoline Parks) and the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). “When consumers pick a park to go to, before they even start jumping, we like them to know we care about safety and so therefore we are members of the IATP and we do follow ASTM safety guidelines. Then, patrons have already set that expectation. They’ve already taken the first step towards safe jumping,” said Jerry. Next, he advises patrons to master the basics of trampoline jumping before trying more extreme moves. “How to stop your bounce by bending your knees, for example. How to stay in the center of the trampoline for better balance. Those kinds of things. Because when somebody first gets there, they’re like a kid in a candy store, their eyes get really wide and they go ‘Oh, my gosh! I can’t wait.’ They want to get out there and do all kinds of crazy stuff,” he added. The potential for injury is real. Therefore, it’s especially important for first-timers to read posted rules and to just start with basic bouncing before moving on to something on the next level.
New-hires at Sky High Sports undergo an intensive four-day training program. “They watch training safety videos and read through all of our safety documentation,” said Jerry. “Then they go out and work with the trainer on the court to observe what goes on and what they need to do in response to those things. They also take a test at the end before they’re allowed to go out and work on their own.” Part of their training involves shadowing a current employee for two days before they’re actually left on their own. The company looks for perceptive and customer-service oriented individuals. “Their job is to be visible and watch over things like a lifeguard. We want them to be aware and in the moment but they also have to interact with the customers and enforce the rules in a friendly way.”
The wall-to-wall trampolines at Altitude Trampoline Park in Wilmington, Del., translate to thousands of square feet of bouncing fun, making it easier to enforce the no double jumping rule that prevails. “We prefer one person per trampoline. It’s so people don’t double bounce and get locked up as far as body-to-body contact or just to avoid the misbalance of having two people on at the same time,” said Ryan Paden, one of the managers at the facility. Safety socks are a must as well. Think of the kind patients wear while in hospital, he said. “The grip on the bottom makes sure that the trampolines are a lot easier to jump on than just having regular socks that have you slipping around everywhere.” Altitude Trampoline Park offers them for two dollars a pair and they’re completely reusable. “You can go home and wash them and the grip will come right back as if you just opened the packet again new,” Paden added.
Monthly training is the norm for employees at the Delaware facility. “We do a meeting every month just to catch up and keep informed on what is going on in the company and in the industry overall,” Paden said. Another way Altitude promotes safety is by encouraging staff to interact with parents of participating children and customers in general during their shifts. Staff are instructed to be approachable while they’re walking around, steadily watching and being alert to how kids are jumping, making sure nobody is climbing up on the pads or other off-limit areas. In this manner, safety becomes a joint effort.
The Wairhouse Trampoline Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers a safety tip to patrons that on the surface appears so obvious, it would hardly seem worth mentioning. But it is and they do – namely, they advise patrons to bend their knees! “It becomes a challenge for some people sometimes. They don’t remember to let their knees and their hips kind of go with the flow while on a trampoline,” said General Manager Wes Langham. “But people do it anytime they step down from something or if they stumble and catch themselves. The body reacts a certain way. But for some reason, some people kind of go against the grain when jumping on a trampoline.” The logic behind knee bending is impact absorption and shock distribution. “The body is made to flex at certain points and restricting that while on a trampoline can lead to injury. Picture a person walking without bending their knees and then drop that person 10 feet,” Langham added.
Training for staff at Wairhouse Trampoline Park is three-pronged. They receive first-aid training and procedural training as well as practice in worst-case scenarios. In the latter case, staff and by proxy, patrons benefit greatly from a special association the facility is fortunate enough to have. “The entire South Salt Lake Fire Department has actually been out here and continues to come out for on-the-spot training and practice,” said Langham. This is helpful since Wairhouse has a few unique features not found at other trampoline parks. For example, they have an extreme net course which is a suspended obstacle course surrounded in net and with only one entry and one exit. “But we’ve had the Fire Department come out and devise a rescue strategy for worst-case scenario injury on basically all points,” Langham concluded.