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Trampoline Parks: It’s not all fun and games!

By Bradley D. Kuhlman and Jamie A. Rodriguez

History of Trampolines and Trampoline Parks

In 1934 George Nissen, a young aspiring gymnast, diver, and talented inventor constructed the first bouncing apparatus out of tent canvas, a steel frame, and old automobile tubing. Nissen had some initial success selling what he dubbed the “trampoline” by performing tumbling shows at school assemblies and selling the trampoline to school tumbling teams. At the start of World War II, schools quickly lost interest in such purchases, and Nissen looked for other markets to sell his product. Nissen found success in selling his device as a training device for parachutists and pilots for use in the war. After World War II, trampoline sales transitioned for use in collegiate gymnastics and circuses.[1]

In 1959, the first trampoline park was constructed—an outdoor jumping center in San Diego, California. The popularity of trampoline parks instantly soared, and with it came reports of serious injury and even death. By the early 1960s, trampoline parks quickly evaporated due to the high rate of injuries and resulting difficulties obtaining insurance.[2] The use of trampolines in gymnastics continued under the strict rules and guidelines of the USAG (USA Gymnastics) as a training device.

The Rebirth of Trampoline Parks

The rebirth of trampoline parks began in approximately 2004, when Rick Platt and his son Jeff Platt opened the first Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Las Vegas, Nevada.[3] Shortly after, the trampoline industry again exploded.[4] Not surprisingly, so did reports of serious injuries and deaths.[5]

Currently, there are over 800 trampoline parks operating in the United States, and over 1,000 parks internationally.[6] Major players in the current trampoline park industry are Get Air, Big Air, Urban Air, Sky Zone, Hang Time, Altitude, Circus Trix, Launch, Bounce!, Defy Extreme Air Sports, Rockin’ Jump, and Flying Squirrel. Most parks feature multiple attractions such as ropes courses, zip lines, battle beams, trampolines, and ball pits.

With a booming trampoline park industry and rising rates of injuries, franchise owners soon joined forces to develop industry standards for trampoline parks through the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). The drafting of ASTM F2970 began in 2011. Soon after, in 2012, the same franchise owners formed The International Association of Trampoline Parks, referred to as the IATP.

The IATP, ASTM F2970, and Industry Standards for Trampoline Parks

The IATP  is an industry trade association made up of trampoline park owners and operators,  aspiring trampoline park owners and operators, as well as industry professionals.[7] It is based out of Boca Raton, Florida, and its general counsel is Wayne Pierce.[8] The IATP purports to offer services and educational resources for its members relating to risk management, marketing, and increasing revenues.[9] The IATP has developed a portal through which its members can submit anonymous injury reports. The IATP also has a set of developed industry standards that its members can commit to following, and trampoline parks often publicize their membership in IATP on websites to show customers their commitment to safety.

The IATP and ASTM standards represent an attempt from the trampoline park industry to appear to prioritize safety in trampoline parks.[10] In reality, these standards are set by a majority of franchise owners with another goal in mind: providing legal cover in the common event that a patron is seriously injured or dies, and legal action is brought against the franchise owner. Safety experts on standards committees are often outnumbered and outvoted by industry members who prioritize profit over safety.[11] In addition, franchise owners proudly pledge to follow standards set forth by the IATP and ASTM on their websites, but in many cases do not follow such standards. Adherence to such standards is not mandated, and many industry members simply do not follow them, despite what they pledge on their websites.[12] The IATP has previously pledged to implement a third-party inspection protocol by September 2020 but has yet to actually do so.[13] IATP and ASTM standards remain completely voluntary.

Created in 2013, the stated purpose of ASTM F2970 is to delineate requirements regarding the design, manufacture, installation, operation, maintenance, inspection, and major modification of commercial or institutional trampoline courts with the primary purpose of amusement, or recreation.[14] It does not address backyard or recreational trampolines. ASTM F2970 has been modified 20 times, and more modifications are being debated currently.

ASTM F2970.7.10.2 currently mandates that trampoline beds commonly referred to as string beds, aussie beds, canvas web beds, hot beds, or competition beds shall not be permitted in the design of a trampoline court.[15] In discussion of this standard, members of IATP were informed of the extreme dangers associated with an untrained or inexperienced jumper’s use of competition beds.[16] Additionally, IATP members were informed and advised that a higher safety standard should be set forth for such trampolines,  as they do not perform in the same manner as other trampolines a jumper may be accustomed to. However, such competition beds are frequently placed in trampoline parks as attractions intended to be used by untrained and inexperienced jumpers without proper warning of such risks. This is only one example of how trampoline park owners and operators knowingly and willfully expose their patrons (who are often children) to defective, dangerous, and hazardous trampolines. In other cases, ASTM standards regarding minimum age requirements, space between jumpers, and size separation are also ignored.[17]

In Europe, the BSI (British Standard Institution) has developed PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 5000 for construction of indoor trampoline parks.[18] PAS 5000 was sponsored by and written in conjunction with the IATP in 2017.[19] PAS 5000 specifies requirements for the construction of indoor trampoline parks that are made up of interconnected trampolines being used for non-competitive leisure activities, as well as day to day park operating and maintenance requirements.[20] In direct conflict with ASTM F2970 which prohibits use of such trampolines, PAS 5000 discusses and advises trampoline park manufacturers, installers, and operators on the installation and use of performance trampolines as an attraction in an indoor trampoline park.[21]

Where is the CPSC?

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has created federally mandated regulations for  recreational trampolines used in backyards of residential homes. However, despite alarming rates of injuries,  the CPSC has declined to create any federal regulations that apply to trampoline parks. Instead, the CPSC website simply acknowledges that the industry will continue to regulate itself through IATP’s voluntary standards.[22] While some states have made attempts at mandating regulations for these parks, they remain largely unregulated. Many recommendations have been made to the CPSC to ban use of trampoline parks for all children younger than six years old, not allowing any flips, and removing confidentiality agreements to allow for injuries to be more accurately reported.

Incident Data

In September 2019, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CSPC presented data to IATP showing data for documented injuries at trampoline parks. The data showed significant increases in documented injuries each year. In 2018, estimated emergency room visits increased by 70% from 2016. There were 3 cases of severe neck injuries reported. Males accounted for 54% of hospital visits. Other information obtained by CPSC included 4 deaths and 3 severe neck injuries not included in the NEISS data for trampoline parks.

A recent study released in 2022 indicates that there are nearly 100,000 pediatric emergency visits associated with trampolines in the US each year.[23] Additionally, a survey of hospital admission data concluded that trampoline related injuries lead to more hospitalizations than any other sport.[24] These alarming rates of injury have not declined despite the implication of industry safety standards.[25]

Evidence also indicates injuries sustained at trampoline parks are more severe and frequent than home trampolines, and continue to rise.[26] An Australian study comparing home trampoline injuries to trampoline park injuries found that children with trampoline park injuries were more likely to be hospitalized, their injuries were more likely to require surgery, and the injuries were more likely to result in some form of persistent pain or physical disability.[27] Experts attribute this rise in injury frequency and severity to many factors; including the increasing popularity of trampoline parks, the common “patchwork” design of connected trampolines, higher tensile strength trampolines, and other conditions that place jumpers at risk such as close proximity to other jumpers, lack of supervision, and lack of legislated safety regulations.[28]

The Trampoline & Adventure Advisory Group, or TAAG, was established in 2020 by industry members Robert Ito, Michael Jacki, and Suzanne Jewell.[29] The non-profit organization’s purpose is to consult with the industry on best practices to incorporate in trampoline parks to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries in trampoline parks.[30] TAAG has established two versions of its own risk management manual.[31] The manual itself focuses on advising a trampoline park operator and its employees in the daily management and operation of a trampoline park.[32] The manual heavily focuses on warnings to give to patrons, waivers, proper supervision of patrons, common legal theories involved in lawsuits brought against trampoline parks, and creation of an emergency plan in the event of a patron injury.[33] While the manual itself constitutes some effort to improve safety within trampoline parks, the focus continues to be on mitigation of risk for the trampoline park from a legal standpoint, rather than actual concern for patrons who remain unaware and exposed to such dangers.[34] In reality, the manual is merely another set of non-mandated suggestions that any trampoline park operator can easily disregard in favor of convenience and revenue.

Pursuing Lawsuits Against Trampoline Parks

Depending on the specific injury and safety issue applicable to your case, a number of claims can be brought against trampoline parks. Insurance for these claims is usually minimal, and not nearly enough to cover severe or catastrophic injuries such as death or quadriplegia. Legal theories involved in trampoline park cases include negligence, product liability, premises liability, failure to warn, and inadequate supervision claims. These claims can be brought against many parties, including the local franchise owner, franchisor, landlord, installer and/or designer of the attraction, and the manufacturer, which can help trigger insurance coverage under as many parties’ policies as possible.

Plaintiffs’ experts in trampoline park cases include: Donald McPherson, Marc Rabinoff, Peter Pidcoe, Edward Nyman Ph.D., George Gerald and George Myer. Defense experts include Robert Ito, Michael Jacki, Alan Black, Troy Richardson, Richard Zinneker, Jared Krupa, William Bussone, and Wayne and Suzanne Jewell. Additionally, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) has established a trampoline subgroup to provide resources to Plaintiffs’ attorneys, headed by members Joseph Gates of Arkansas, and Michael Denton of Oklahoma.

Applicable defenses to trampoline park cases are usually related to signed waivers or assumption of risk clauses, forced arbitration, and indemnity clauses. While most, if not all, trampoline parks require waivers signed prior to a jumper’s participation, these waivers do not warn patrons of the extreme hazards and hidden dangers inherent to trampoline parks. No skill assessment is performed, no progressive learning or training is required or completed, and no mature and knowledgeable supervision is present.[35] Patrons are permitted to perform maneuvers known in the industry to be extremely dangerous to the untrained- flipping, double jumping, lateral jumping, multiple persons on a trampoline, no minimum age, jumping on angled trampolines, jumping on performance trampolines, and mixing of all ages and sizes of patrons. [36]

Common Attractions at Trampoline Parks

In the race for each trampoline park to offer the newest, most thrilling attractions, concern for patron safety is often last priority. Trampoline parks continue to create new attractions with little to no regard for their young patrons’ health.

Linked “Court-Style” Trampolines: Most trampoline parks incorporate a court-style trampoline like the one displayed below. This design is problematic for multiple reasons. First, the design encourages jumpers to break a long-standing trampoline standard to perform only up and down vertical jumping on a trampoline, and instead hop to other trampolines laterally. While in theory, a properly trained gymnast could safety perform this maneuver by only jumping from the center of one trampoline to another, it is unlikely that young or untrained jumpers will incorporate this technique into their jumping without adequate knowledge and training to do so.[37]

This design also increases the risk of  “double jumping.” Double jumping occurs when one jumper is impacted by the rebound effect of the trampoline caused by another jumper’s force upon the trampoline. These trampolines are often interconnected with one another, and thus another jumper’s energy generated could affect the stiffness or force upon another jumper located in the same trampoline court.[38] As multiple jumpers are often present in these courts, there are multiple forces being put upon one trampoline, increasing risk of injury to all jumpers. Injuries resulting from double bouncing are often severe fractures of the leg.[39] This risk is escalated further as jumpers are mismatched in size, with smaller children dangerously exposed to the rebound effects of much larger jumpers.

Battle Beam: The Battle Beam attraction features a large beam mounted above a foam pit. The intention of the battle beam is to have two patrons balance their weight on either side of the beam, while armed with a foam log to use to push the other patron off of the beam, in the form of a “joust.” Foam pits are often too shallow to provide adequate protection for falling patrons, who have reported numerous head and neck injuries as a result.[40] Additionally, patrons could again find themselves “mismatched” in size of their opponent who is pushing them off of the beam, which increases the risk of injury. Patrons who have been knocked off the beam are falling because they have lost their balance—they are unable to properly dismount the beam in accordance with proper gymnastic techniques and may enter the shallow foam pit head first, or risk hitting the beam itself as they fall into the foam pit.

Foam Pits: Many parks feature foam pits alongside trampoline beds, wherein patrons are encouraged to “get air” or practice their “most daring stunts safely.”[41] Numerous documented injuries indicate patrons cannot do so without risk of serious injury. Foam pits are simply too shallow to offer adequate protection. Additionally, by encouraging patrons to try their “most daring stunts” on such attractions, the trampoline parks are inviting patrons to attempt stunts for which they are untrained, which creates even higher risk of injury.

The Pro Zone: As previously indicated, the Pro Zone features a competition bed.Use of these beds in trampoline parks has been prohibited altogether by ASTM F2970. Patrons are not adequately informed of the extreme recoil power of trampoline beds, and experts have pleaded with the trampoline park industry to discontinue use of these beds due to the extreme dangers associated with untrained jumpers’ use of these beds. [42] This attraction typically includes some type of sign that indicates this attraction is recommended for “slightly older or experienced jumpers.”[43] However, children are completely unaware what skills are considered advanced maneuvers, and lack the knowledge or ability to make an appropriate judgment regarding which trampolines and moves are appropriate for their own skillset. This attraction also includes and encourages wall trampoline jumping, which increases risk for patrons to jump in an out of control manner, rather than typical up and down lateral jumping.

Dodge Ball: Dodge Ball Courts feature the same problematic linked design discussed above, which increases risk of double jumping and horizontal jumping, both of which are dangerous for patrons. Additionally, many Dodgeball Courts do not properly regulate the size differentials of patrons involved in dodgeball.[44] Parents and young children are allowed to play on these courts together, despite evidence that mixing sizes of jumpers significantly increases risk of injury for the smaller jumpers.[45] These Dodgeball courts are often crowded as well, increasing risk even further. Mixing trampoline jumping activities with dodgeball increases the risk that patrons will not jump in control, as they are not only jumping on a trampoline, but also attempting to catch, dodge, or throw dodge balls. These activities make it more difficult for patrons to be aware of other jumpers around them.

As trampoline parks continue the “race to the bottom” to incorporate new and extreme attractions, patrons will continue to bear the cost of the trampoline park industry’s dangerous decisions. The trampoline park industry has revealed its approach when it comes to safety by blatantly disregarding expert recommendations. Until the CPSC or state legislatures step in to hold these trampoline parks accountable, the industry will remain uncontrolled and dangerous.

[1] Jeanette DeWyze, The Man and The Kangaroo: George Nissen on the rebound, San Diego Reader, August 13, 1998, at 1, 44–46.

[2] Id.

[3]  CircusTrix Pounces on Operator of Trampoline Parks, Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2018.

[4] Id.

[5] Nunez C, Eslick GD, Elliott EJ. Trampoline centre injuries in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Inj Prev. 2022 Jun 13:injuryprev-2022-044530. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2022-044530. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35697515.

[6] Id.




[10] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants

[11] Id.

[12] Nunez C, Eslick GD, Elliott EJ. Trampoline centre injuries in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Inj Prev. 2022 Jun 13:injuryprev-2022-044530. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2022-044530. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35697515

[13] IATP Response to CBS Report, April 1, 2019, as published in Amusement Today.

[14] ASTM International Designation F2970-20.

[15] Id.

[16] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants

[17] Id.

[18] The British Standards Institution 2017, PAS 5000: Specification for the construction and operation of a fixed indoor trampoline park.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Id.


[23] Nunez C, Eslick GD, Elliott EJ. Trampoline centre injuries in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Inj Prev. 2022 Jun 13:injuryprev-2022-044530. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2022-044530. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35697515; See also Williams BA, Harwood K, Markiewitz N, et al. Seasonal variability and age-related risk in youth trampoline inuries. Pediatr Int 2021;63:1230-5.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Nunez C, Eslick GD, Elliott EJ. Trampoline centre injuries in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Inj Prev. 2022 Jun 13:injuryprev-2022-044530. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2022-044530. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35697515; See also Williams BA, Harwood K, Markiewitz N, et al. Seasonal variability and age-related risk in youth trampoline inuries. Pediatr Int 2021;63:1230-5.

[28] Id.

[29] Trampoline and Adventure Safety and Risk Management Handbook, 2021 Edition, Trampoline & Adventures Advisory Group.

[30] Id.

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] Id.

[34] Id.

[35] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants

[36] Id.

[37] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants

[38] Id.

[39] Jason Knowles & Ann Pistone, Doctors, experts warn of serious injuries to kids at trampoline parks, ABC 13 Eyewitness News, February 28, 2019.


[40] Campbell, A. (2019, September 11). Richmond trampoline park facing another lawsuit. Richmond News; See also Ray Stern, Man in Skypark Trampoline Mishap Dies; Online Debate on Safety Continues, Phoenix New Times, February 7, 2012.


[42] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants


[44] Marc A. Rabinoff, Ed.D, Rabinoff Consulting Services, Inc., Sport and Fitness Liability Consultants

[45] Id.

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