The term special needs is a term used by the British Trampoline Federation to cover those trampolinists who need extra attention while bouncing, and for whom something more than basic coaching skills are required. The reason for this may be a physical or mental disability, or it may be a problem with communication. In the context of coaching a person on a trampoline, an inability to speak English would be a "special need".

The BTF has a special training course, leading to additional coaching qualifications in this area.

In the Gillingham Jumpers we are seriously interested in this aspect of the sport, and have three coaches who are qualified under the BTF scheme.

One of the major drawbacks in this area is that the coach:pupil ratio is much lower with a special needs group, and the numbers that can be involved in this area are still small. We are, however, currently running sessions for people with both mental and physical disabilities; one of these groups includes three blind children, who are benefiting from the use of the trampoline to provide a safe environment where they can use their energies to the full, free from the inhibitions which they usually have on the ground.

 

In the notes supplied by the BTF as part of the Special Needs training course, a list of the benefits of trampolining is provided. This list includes:

strengthening of limbs

numeracy

patience

communication

co-ordination

independence

self confidence

balance

muscle tone

reaction speed

self image

eye contact

sense of achievement

stamina

spatial awareness

body awareness

social awareness

consideration of others

trust in coach

colour recognition

height / depth perception

fun and enjoyment


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It is an impressive list, and obviously every pupil will benefit in different areas to a greater or lesser extent.

Looking simply at the physiological benefits, which will be achieved even by a very low level of skill in bouncing, the training notes identified the following beneficial effects of trampolining:

  • An aerobic effect on the body, improving the intake of oxygen, to the benefit of the heart and lungs.
  • An effect on muscles, increasing the muscles' capacity for work.
  • An effect on joints, strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, and improving movement (and reducing the risk of developing some forms of arthritis).
  • An effect on circulation - of particular value in instances where there is an interruption of the normal circulatory system, such as trauma.
  • An effect of the internal organs. Even in seemingly passive activities on the trampoline, the effect of movement and the slightly increased G-force will be affecting the internal organs. This activity will be stimulating areas such as digestion and bowels, and will over a period enhance their efficiency.

During the later phases of Bounce 2000, we will, as a club, be looking to increase our involvement even further in this area, and intend to extend our links with other organisations in the district which are involved in the care and treatment of people with special needs.