So What is the Big Deal About Trampoline Wall? by Greg Roe
Well you need to look at it from a Trampolinist’s point of view. When you normally walk down the street you will naturally see the world the ‘right side up’ but what if everything was flipped by 90 degrees? What if all of a sudden the sky was right in front of you and the ground was behind you? It would be quite unnerving and this is what professional Trampoline Wall athletes master over their years of training.
Creator: Matt Beard Photography Copyright: Matt Beard Photography Information extracted from IPTC Photo Metadata.
But where did this unique show originate? Let's go back to our trampoline roots for a minute. When gymnast George Nissen first developed the commercial trampoline in the 1940's he thought the trampoline would take over the world. And today you could arguably say it has!! With hundreds of thousands of backyard trampolines, Olympic training centres and trampoline parks now exploding, his vision did give birth to an entirely new industry.
The invention was a hit, so George and some friends took their show on the road, travelling across the US and around the globe, George then came up with the concept for a fun new game/sport by taking a large trampoline and folding up the ends in a sloped upward angle. . . and he called it SPACEBALL!! Could this the precursor to Trampoline Wall? There certainly seems to be some similarities, however many trampoline and circus athletes from around the world took it to a whole new level when they began to bounce off their backs to 'climb' the more solid Wall we all know today, bouncing up and over and through holes in the wall.
Now back to today..... Having played on the Wall many times over my years I can tell you that it is easy to get lost. Unless you have trained normally by bouncing up and down and then switched to the Wall, it may be tough to understand how disorienting it can be. Many athletes forget how use to the ‘lay of the land’ they are until you flip them 90 degrees. The reality is that most athletes use visuals to tell themselves where they are. The brain is wired up during their training process to see the environment a certain way at a certain angle and by throwing yourself off by using a Wall you really test your previously built up circuits.
Once when I was doing Back Full off the Wall I literally "got lost" simply because I was use to associating proper twist timing with the ground and with 360 degrees of rotation from the ground. When I used the Wall I was on my back and ended up only doing 3/4 of a flip with my full twist which is not normal for any trampolinist. My brain matches a full 360 degree of twist with a 360 degree flip and I do both rotations at the same time, matching them nicely over and over again. It was a startling experience and it showed me exactly how programmed my tricks really were with a ‘right side up’ environment. For anyone who is looking to fill in their 3-D ‘map’ which we discuss in our extensive training program try playing with wall tricks. Normally gyms will not have any walls near the trampoline and that is for good reason. You do not want to fly off the trampoline and smash into a nice hard wall.
However, you can make a Wall with blocks or mats and have athletes learn the basics. I taught my athletes to do Wall before they could even do a Back Flip. This is because I want them to get use to orienting themselves in unfamiliar orientations that will help them realize the nuances of spatial awareness. It is one thing to fill in your 3-D ‘map’ when the world is ‘right side up’ but as soon as its even off by a bit, it can really change the game for the athlete.
Young athletes need to explore as much as possible before getting into the straight and narrow set of competition skills so I highly recommend you add in Trampoline Wall into your training at the younger levels and not wait until the athletes are older and ‘more advanced.’ If you wait until later, you are actually just delaying the process of being able to map out the orientation of a 90o change in the landscape. When you introduce TrampoWall to athletes before they get solidified in a ‘right side up’ world you are increasing their chances of being able to navigate the new territory without getting lost.
Taking a ‘right side up’ skill that has been solidified for 5 years of ‘right side up’ training and then throwing it off by 90 degrees can really throw off the athlete more than you think so build up skills on a Wall as you build up skills the ‘right side up’ for overall better aerial awareness in your entire career as well as adding in a new spice to training to keep it fun and get away from the same repeated training program.
If you want to learn about how the modern Trampoline Wall show was developed by Cirque du Soleil check out our Freestyle podcast, THE ROE SHOW, with Boris Verkhovsky, Director, Design and Performance Development, Cirque du Soleil and creator of many Cirque shows around the world HERE. It was a very informative and interesting interview that showed the behind the scenes of Cirque and some of the acts they have helped to create.
For more information on Cirque du Soleil please visit https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/about-us/our-shows
For more information on the NEW GRT Training Program, that was written with both athletes and coaches in mind, please CLICK HERE. We offer both written materials and corresponding videos, from beginner to Olympic Level, including freestyle and traditional approaches. It is a complete training program that goes through every progression, step-by-step or degree-by-degree (as I say) and includes Anatomy, Physiology, Biomechanics, Theory and so much more!!