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      26.11.2003 18:02
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      Trampolining is a sport that has been gaining popularity in recent years as people have begun to realise that though it looks fun, it requires dedication and hard work to achieve the dizzy heights (sorry) of those at the top (sorry again) of the sport. I'm learning how to coach it, and getting complete beginners able to stand up on a trampoline, and maybe bounce up and down a bit, is harder than you'd imagine. 19 year old male students, it seems, are utter cats. But very fun to watch. However one of the best things about trampolining is the rate at which you can progress, and within a few months it is possible to get someone who has never tramped before up to competition level. That's what this op is going to talk about - tramping comps, with special emphasis on the university variety, since these are the ones that have me straddling for Manchester up and down the country on a weekly basis at the moment. To enter a university competition, you need to be invited by the hosts. Not you personally, mind, just your club. But, because these things are invite-only, misbehave on the day and you won't be asked back the next year. Invitations come usually between 6 months (the organised / far away clubs) and 6 weeks (the spur of the moment / disorganised ones) before the date, and will include routines, programmes, costs, social details and so on, all of which I'll talk about in a minute. The club captains usually receive the info and pass this on to the members who then decide if they're free and want to go. The club then send off one long application form, listing everyone's details, and a few weeks later they get confirmation that they have been accepted, or a message saying that the comp is full so they won't be able to go. Competitions can last anything from a few hours to 3 or 4 days. The one I did the weekend before last was down in Warwick and ran from Friday night until Saturday afternoon. Leeds on Saturday will take place in the afternoon only, and ours, the week after that, runs from Friday teatime until the early hours of Sunday morning. Dublin, at Easter next year, is a good few days, which is fine by us given the distance involved. The biggest competitions have hundreds of entrants, the smallest maybe 50. In my first comp I came 2nd out of 10 people, but in the last one I did I was 3rd out of 52 - it all depends on the date, the location, the availability of sports halls and the willingness of the staff in charge to organise. Competitors are split into various classes based on ability and, if there are enough, sex. So, a typical competition might have Novice, Intermediate Ladies, Intermediate Men, Advanced Ladies, Advanced Men and Elite. Depending on the number of judges and the facilities on offer, these classes might run at the same time, on a number of trampolines up and down the room, or they might take place one after another. Each competitor has to do 2 routines - one of which (the set) is, erm, set by the competition organisers, and sent out with the invitation, the other (the vol) is made up by the competitor themselves, though they can just do the set again if they want. Competitors are given / deducted marks for the style with which they perform the moves, the amount they move around the trampoline and the height at which they do them - you can bounce low and gain the same marks as bouncing high, but if you start the routine high up and end off low down for the last few moves, you get penalised. Generally a competition will start with a warm up for everyone to get used to the beds (trampolines) they'll be using. Then the classes warm up (everyone in Novice, one after another, for example) then there's a controlled warm up for each person individually, then they compete. Usually person 2 will compete, person 4 will warm up, person 3 will compete, person 5 will warm up, person 4 will compete and so on. It sounds complicated, but the marshals know what they're doing so you just have to listen out for your name as they call you to warm up, and then hang around for a few minutes until it's your turn to compete. If there are two beds on offer for your class you can chose which one to bounce on based on personal preference, and as you always need spotters in trampolining (people standing at the sides to catch you / push you back on if you fall), you can ask people from your club to come and do it, or accept anyone who is waiting nearby to have their turn. Usually, after all the set routines, it starts again and everyone does their vols. Marks for each routine are given out of 10 (though 8+ is considered good) and for the vol a tariff is added on to this - each person can touch the bed 10 times (so seat drop to feet is 2 times, even though it's only one move) and moves have tariffs based on their difficulty - you get nothing for a tuck jump, for example, but any turns, and body rather than feet landings get marks, so back drop half twist to feet comes in at 0.1 + 0.2 = 0.3. There is a maximum tariff for each category - usually 1.0 for Novice for example - so you can't get higher than that, no matter what your moves. The tariff for your vol is added to your scores to give a "bonus" at the end. Your final mark therefore comes from your 3 set marks, your 3 vols and the tariff. You're supposed to have 5 judges for each routine, and the highest and lowest scores are discounted to leave 3 marks, but in some uni comps you end up with panels of only 3 judges anyway, so all their marks count. Tramping comps, especially uni ones, are more about the having a fun day or weekend away than the competing. Though jewellery is not allowed for safety reasons, no one cares if you wear a leotard or shorts and t-shirt for the lower classes, nor how neatly tied back your hair is. Some people insist on wearing leotards which *really* do not flatter their figures. Our name for thes e people cannot be printed here, but they do provide us with an extra bit of entertainment on the day when their turns come around. At the end of the day, there are presentations of medals and certificated for each class and for teams which, depending on the rules, can involve any 3 or 4 people from the same club, or only those from the same class. Socials are a big part of uni comps and can occur before or after the comp, or both if you come to our event (we're from Manchester. We know how to party). Typical events include warm up sessions the day before if the comp is on a Saturday or Sunday, meals out, drinking sessions, pub crawls.... These may be free or may incur a small charge depending on how much you're getting - anything involving decent food they'll make you pay for, but for half a sandwich and 10 minutes of a live band of music college students they probably won't. To enter competitions usually costs about £5 per person, and extra for teams, though whether you or your club pays depends on the set-up at your university. We pay one off subs for the year and get it all free which is rather bon. I competed in gymnastics and dancing as a child, but neither compares to the fun of tramping comps, though I think some of this is to do with the fact that they're uni friendlies rather than world championships. Tramping comps are something I really enjoy, and wish I'd got into sooner. I straddle for Manchester every week, and I love it. ********************************************************************* If you are at a British university, check with your AU to see if you have a trampoline club. If not, speak to other local unis - we have people at ours from Salford, Man Met, UMIST and the University of Manchester. If you are not a uni student, but want to find out more, have a peek a http://www.british-gymnastics.org which covers all forms of the sport, from gym to sports acro to tr amping. Competitions are available for all levels up and down the country, and clubs operate in all main cities and towns. It's a fab sport, whether you compete or not, and great for people of all ages.

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