You’ll want to consider the size of your backyard, how old your kids are, how many kids will be using the trampoline at once, and if they are doing any specific activity or just general bouncing shenanigans. Along with choosing the shape of the trampoline, choosing the right size trampoline for kids is critical to the success of the Mission: Backyard Adventure (MBA!).
If the trampoline is too small, your kids will outgrow it or only be able to play on it one at a time. If it is too big, and it runs the risk of not fitting. Worst case scenario, if your kids are too young or too light, and won’t be able to get any bounce from it.
I’ll walk you through all of the considerations you’ll want to take note of, so that you buy the right size trampoline for your kids.
I’ll ask it as a series of questions. You’ll be able to follow along. By the end of this article, you’ll have an excellent set of guidelines for making the best size decision for you and your family.
1. How big is the space you have free for a trampoline?
The rule of thumb is to have at least three feet on each side of the trampoline. This gives you room to set it up, as well as maintain the area around it. You’ll also find that even if the trampoline has a mesh net, the kids will just bounce straight into it. You definitely don’t want a brick wall right beside the netting.
You also want to have a 24ft clearance above the trampoline. This includes making sure there are no branches, balconies or overhanging roof eaves. Last thing you want is the kids knocking themselves out with a big bounce! (Apparently, it’s happened.)
If you are struggling for clearance, don’t forget that some trampolines can be dug into the ground. This means the mat is at ground level, with a cavity dug out underneath to accommodate the bounce.
To measure your available space, consider if you are looking at a round, an oval or a rectangle trampoline first.
a) Sizing for a Round trampoline.
If you are looking at a round trampoline, measure your available space out in a square or rectangle. You’ll want to know the width and length of the area available. Then find the center of the space. Mark it out with a stick in the ground, or a piece of chalk (or even charcoal – whatever you have to hand). Measure out a piece of string. This string should be the half the size of the trampoline you are thinking about (half of the diameter, ie, the radius), and then add 3 feet to the end for the clearance.
For example, if you are looking at buying a 8ft trampoline, make your string 7ft long (that is, half of 8ft = 4ft plus the 3ft clearance). If you are looking at a 12ft trampoline, make your string 9ft long (that is half of 12ft = 6ft plus the 3ft clearance).
Attach one end of the string firmly in the centre, and trace out a circle. If you bump into anything, make the length of the string shorter. Don’t forget to take off the 3ft clearance when you go back and figure out the length of string you have.
Once you have traced the circle, look up and make sure the space above is clear at least 24ft up in the air.
b) Sizing for an oval trampoline or a rectangle trampoline.
This is going to feel a lot simpler! Whether it’s an oval or a rectangle trampoline, you are taking the same measurements. It’s like we just ignore the lack of corners in the oval shape. With your measure, trace out the available area as a width by length. Make sure to include 3ft clearance on each side. That’s the space you have available for your trampoline. Again, be sure to look up and give yourself at least 24ft clearance in the air.
Now that you have the physical space available for your trampoline, we’re going to look at the other factors you might want to consider.
2. How old are your kid(s)?
If your kids are younger (and lighter), you should probably look at starting with a smaller trampoline. Big trampolines are harder to get a good bounce for little kids – and that’s just not as much fun. You might be looking ahead for when they are teenagers, but really, it’s more important to look at the amount of fun you can have now and in the next couple of years.
Toddlers will love a mini-trampoline. These can be bought with handles to help maintain balance, or just like one of the old mini-exercise trampolines. They often won’t get enough bounce from even an 8ft trampoline to make it fun.
If you have a child under 9 years old, then you are looking at an 8ft to 10ft trampoline, dependent on your backyard size and budget.
If you have two or more younger kids, you’ll almost certainly want to stretch to a 12ft trampoline. Otherwise, you will be subjected to calls of “It’s my turn…”, “No, it’s my turn…!!”. Remember, the goal is to make your backyard a place of fun and adventure.
If your kids are 10 years old and over, I would strongly recommend the 14ft trampoline.
3. How many kids are likely to be on the trampoline at one time?
You want to make sure that you’ve chosen the right size trampoline for the number of kids that are likely to be jumping on it at any one time. I’ve given the guide here generally for round trampolines, but you can see that these would be similar if you take the measurements for a rectangle trampoline as well.
If your trampoline is too small, the kids WILL bounce into each other and crack heads at some stage. You want to make sure that there is enough room to bounce safely and still have a riotously good time.
An 8ft round trampoline is well-suited to one smaller kid at a time, whilst a 12ft round trampoline can accommodate 2 or 3 smaller kids. The 12ft wouldn’t be great for several older teenagers and could lead to the trampoline itself breaking.
The 14ft or 16ft trampolines are often called “the entertainer”. You will end up with your kids, the kids down the street, their visiting cousins… you get the idea! If you like the idea of being the fun house, and you have the room, then this larger size trampoline is probably just what you need.
And if you have several older teenagers, then you’ll probably need a rectangle trampoline – perhaps the Olympic size 10 x 17ft or the large 14 x 16ft. Both of these sizes should accommodate a few older kids at once.
4. Any specific activities they’ll be doing
The above guide so far covers general bouncing by kids. If your tribe is more into gymnastics, dance or specific fitness training for athletics, then there are other aspects to take into account.
Remember, rectangle trampolines give more bounce than a round trampoline due to the corners.
9 x 14ft trampoline – this is the size of choice for the younger gymnast, say around 8 years old. If they are doing gymnastics somewhere, and want to practice at home, this will be a magnificent investment.
14 x 16ft trampoline – great for parkour training, cheerleading kids, and improvised ball games. General goodtime mayhem.
Olympic Size (10 x 17ft) – this is suited to training for trampoline as a sport. It is appropriate for any single flip or tumbling routines.
Once you’ve taken these considerations into account, you’ll be well set up to get the right size trampoline for your backyard.