When you start to look at the shape of the trampoline, you know that you’re starting to visualise how it will fit into your backyard. This is marvellous, as you know you’re setting your kids ups for success in Mission: Backyard Adventure!
Generally, the best shape trampoline for kids – if you have one child, you want a round trampoline for great bounce and safety. However, if you have older children or more than one child, I’d suggest either an oval or rectangle trampoline. And if your child is interested in gymnastics or dance, you’ll need a rectangle trampoline.
There are a few shapes of trampolines that we’ll look at to make sure you make the right choices for your family. Round, oval and rectangle trampolines are the main types that we’ll consider here.
Quick Summary of trampoline shapes
These are the new kid on the block, and have a really nice design aesthetic.
Pros – Oval trampolines can hold more than one kid at a time, with two separate bounce zones at each end. They have a good amount of bounce area (with round trampolines having the smallest bounce area, and rectangle trampolines having the largest bounce area). They are cheaper than rectangle trampolines, and they can look pretty trendy.
Cons – They are fiddly to set up yourself (I wouldn’t start this job half an hour before sunset!). They are more expensive than round trampolines, and whilst the bounce is fairly good, it’s not quite as good as the rectangle trampolines. Finally, if you have a kid who is really into gymnastics or competitive trampolining, you’ll probably need a rectangular trampoline so you get the biggest mat area possible with the corners.
Pros – Rounds trampolines are great for younger families, giving good bounce even for lighter kids. They have less steel than rectangle trampolines – this makes them lighter and cheaper. You can argue that they are safer, as the jumper is more likely to stay in the centre.
Cons – Round trampolines should only have one jumper at a time, which is almost impossible for any family with any siblings, neighbours, cousins. You know what I mean – trampolines are like a kid-magnet. In the set-up phase, they can be a little trickier to set up than the others.
Pros – these are great for multiple kids, and older kids. They bounce all the way into the corners, and are the right shape for tricks and gymnastics. They can hold much more weight, so you and your partner might even find yourselves having a go one afternoon!
Cons – They are heavier, and more expensive, than round trampolines.
So that’s the summary from the trampoline’s point of view. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty that you need to consider for your own situation and Mission: Backyard Adventure.
Factors to Consider To Choose The Best Shape Trampoline for Kids
1. Which kids will be using the trampoline?
If you have a younger child, say under 10 years, I’d recommend a round trampoline. Your child will be able to get a good bounce. Don’t forget, even though the manual says “don’t let more than one child on the trampoline at any given time”, it will be really hard to enforce that. Especially if you look away for more than one second.
If you have a couple or more kids on the younger side, I’d recommend an oval trampoline. With the two distinct bounce zones, it makes it easier for kids to not crash into each other. They’ll still find it easier to bounce than a large rectangular trampoline, and the price tag will be slightly sweeter.
If you have older teenagers, or children who are interested in gymnastics or trampolining as a sport, you’re going to want the rectangle shape trampoline. These trampolines give great bounce all the way into the corners. And the long diagonal across the mat, from corner to corner, will give a good long runway for twists and flips.
2. What’s The Budget For Your Trampoline?
Round trampolines are the least expensive, oval ones are priced in the middle, and rectangle trampolines are the priciest.
The round trampoline has a lot less material, and so generally has a lower cost base. Compared to the rectangle or oval trampolines, it requires a lot less steel to support the circle shape mat. The mat itself has a smaller area than the equivalent size rectangle one. And even the mat that covers up the springs is covering a smaller perimeter than the other shapes.
Rectangle trampolines are the most expensive. As well as the shape itself having more material, and thus a bigger cost base, they are generally a lot bigger than the round trampolines.
Oval trampolines are in the middle for pricing. They are often the same length and width dimensions as the rectangle trampolines, but don’t extend all the way into the corners.
3. How Much Room Have You Got In Your Yard?
Round trampolines are often smaller, with a popular size being 8-10 feet across. On the other hand, a popular sized rectangle trampoline might be up to 14 feet across in one direction.
When you measure it out, you’ll also want to leave 3 feet on each side clearance in order to access all of the space around the trampoline.
You’ll also want to make sure that there are no over-hanging branches or balconies immediately overhead. That would ruin Mission: Backyard Adventure in a hurry!
Click to learn more about how to choose the right size trampoline for your backyard.
4. Will You Need To Move It Within Your Yard?
For most people, once a trampoline is up, it stays right in place where you put it. These things are large and awkward to move. These things can range from 100 to 250 pounds, depending on the size you get.
However, you might know you’ll move it out of the way – for example, you want to mow the lawn, or set up a badminton court or a marquee (from time to time!).
Generally, the smaller round trampolines are lighter as they have less steel. Larger rectangle trampolines weigh far more as they have a great deal more material in their structure.
Keep in mind that the trampoline mat stops a lot of light from reaching the grass, so you won’t need to mow very often, if at all.
5. What’s Your Risk Appetite? (Or, what level of safety do you want to see for your kids?)
This one is trickier to assess. There has to be some level of risk as your kids grow up. Otherwise, they wouldn’t learn how to exercise their own judgement. On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t give young kids a pile of hay and a box of matches and come back in a few hours.
I’ll give the proviso that trampolines are not risk-free. Kids can and do have accidents on trampolines.
Having said that, oval trampolines are safer than round trampolines. This is because they have two bounce centers – one at each end. A bounce center draws the jumper in towards it. If you bounce on the outer part of the bounce center, you will likely be drawn in towards the center on the next bounce.
Round trampolines only have one bounce center. If you only have one kid – this works out well. Even if they bounce on the outside, close to the edge, the recoil of that bounce will direct them into the center.
However, if there is any chance that more than one kid will be actively bouncing on the round trampoline, the bounce center will draw them towards the center (and each other). They will almost certainly run into each other. Which is fun until it isn’t.
6. Total Weight of the Bouncers
In general, rectangle trampolines can hold the most weight. And larger trampolines can hold more weight than smaller ones.
At the extreme end, if you put too much weight on a trampoline, it can break. But even before it gets to the breaking point, you might find that as you give a mighty jump, you’ll end up touching the ground through the mat. That can give your back a very solid surprise jarring sensation. It’s truly best to avoid this.
The more kids you have (or the neighborhood has!), or the older and/or heavier kids you have, the larger trampoline you’ll want to get for them.
Bigger is not always better though. If you have younger kids, keep in mind that the more weight a trampoline is rated for, the more weight you need to get a good bounce going. If the child is too small, they won’t be able to bounce nicely on a big trampoline.
A 12ft round trampoline will probably have a maximum weight capacity of around 200-400 pounds. A large rectangle trampoline, 10ft x 17ft, will increase this to around 500 pounds.
Every manufacturer is going to be different, so definitely check out what their specs are first, and use some common sense. I did find one trampoline that promised a maximum weight capacity over 1,300 pounds, but I felt rather suspicious of this claim. You would really want to interrogate why they can claim something three times as good as almost every other trampoline out there.
Summary of the Best Shape Trampoline for Kids
If you have one child, you’ll want a round trampoline. If you have more than one child, or older children, you’ll be looking at an oval or rectangle. And if your child is the next great trampoline star with tricks and flips, then rectangle gives you the most room and the best bounce anywhere on the mat.
I do hope this was useful in helping you understand what factors I looked for when I was setting up for Mission: Backyard Adventure.
Click to learn more about how to choose the right size trampoline for your backyard.