The 10 Best Tumbling Mats
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Hobbies and sports fall into two categories: those that are lots of fun, and those that are lots of fun and can also hurt you. For activities in the latter group, including gymnastics, martial arts, and cheerleading, you might want to invest in a tumbling mat. These thickly-cushioned floor coverings let you practice tumbling passes, throws, and lifts with the reassurance of a soft landing. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 04, 2020:
When it comes to quality tumbling mats, many will not be surprised to see the Tumbl Trak Panel come out on top. Known for producing top-notch gymnastics products, this company makes the kind of gear that users of all skill levels can count on. This particular model is offered in a wide range of sizes and colors, making it a fine option for just about anyone. We've kept a handy wedge, too, the We Sell Mats Cheese Wedge. It's not as squishy as some, but it's made to high safety standards with sturdy materials. And speaking of sturdy materials, we've opted to add the Titan Gymnastics, an 8-foot model that gives you the impact absorption you need.
For those looking for something a bit different, we added the Happybuy Track, an inflatable choice that comes in a range of lengths. Of course, you'll need to be a bit gentler with it than with some; sharp objects, such as hair clips, could damage the material, leading to leaks. It's quite pricey, too, just like the aforementioned models. If you're watching your pennies, you might consider instead the ProsourceFit Tri-Fold or the Lesmile PU. They're on the smaller side, but they are nevertheless useful, whether that's for practicing the standing bridge or as an exercise mat.
A final word: even though we've selected sturdy models, young and inexperienced tumblers need proper supervision and spotting, no matter how great the mat. Tumbling can be tons of fun, but it can also be dangerous, so don't be afraid to seek out a coach or trainer, and always follow all the safety instructions manufacturers include with their mats.
AirTrack Factory AirFloor Even though the AirTrack Factory AirFloor is offered in large sizes, all the way up to 50 feet long, it can be set up in minutes with the required blower, saving precious practice time. Not only that, but it folds up compactly for travel, so you can carry it from gym to gym if necessary. airtrackus.com
Tumbl Trak Porta Trak The Tumbl Trak Porta Trak is both big and expensive, making it the choice for professional settings, rather than in-home use. Despite its ample size, it can be stored and moved with relative ease, thanks to sturdy casters and hinges for folding it. tumbltrak.com
Nimble Sports 3Play Deluxe The Nimble Sports 3Play Deluxe has everything you need for encouraging budding gymnasts, including a balance beam, double bar, and robust folding mat. All the pieces are designed and made in the USA to high quality standards, and they boast strong, commercial-grade materials that'll last over the long haul. nimblesports.com
The Benefits of Tumbling
When children learn beginning tumbling skills they improve their strength, flexibility, and motor control without even realizing that they are doing the work.
A powerful and entertaining tumbling routine is often the scene-stealing event at any gymnastics competition. The explosive strength and agility required to perform these feats might make tumbling seem like an activity that should be left to aspiring Olympians, but learning some basic tumbling moves can be beneficial to athletes and non-athletes alike.
A basic tumbling class a good investment for children of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Practicing tumbling skills is not quite the same as practicing times tables or the violin. When children learn beginning tumbling skills they improve their strength, flexibility, and motor control without even realizing that they are doing the work. Most children will see tumbling as an extension of their play and incorporate their new moves into their active play and sports activities.
The coordination required to complete a simple forward roll develops a better sense of body awareness and control. Overcoming a fear and learning how to safely complete a cartwheel or flip gives children a boost of self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
Tumbling generally falls under the larger umbrella of gymnastics, so when searching for a tumbling class, check your local gymnastics studios.
Adults can also benefit from incorporating tumbling into their regular workout routines. Maybe you already remember how to do a cartwheel but it doesn't look too good. Devoting a small part of each workout to improving your form builds strength and flexibility, while adding a dash of variety and fun to your routine. As an added bonus, you'll have something to show off at your next family picnic.
Choosing the Right Tumbling Mat
Whether you have a budding Olympic medalist under your roof or just an energetic child with cabin fever, a tumbling mat is your best bet for making any workout or play area safe and comfortable.
The primary things to consider when choosing a mat is the type of foam and its thickness.
Some children don't need a gymnastics class to inspire them to perform death-defying back flips. These little jumping beans seem to have been bouncing off the walls since they learned to walk. Even if they never take a formal tumbling lesson, you'll need to offer them some extra padding.
It's important to note that there is a big difference between a rubber mat and foam tumbling mat. While a thicker rubber mat might offer a bit of cushioning, they are designed to prevent slipping and will not absorb impacts they way foam will.
The primary things to consider when choosing a mat is the type of foam and its thickness. The thicker the mat, the higher the impact it will absorb. Most mats will range from 1-3/8 to 2-3/8 inches.
There are two basic types of foam available on the market, polyfoam or cross-linked. Inexpensive polyfoam is a soft, spongy foam designed to cushion a fall. Cross-linked foam has a firm, closed structure that is more durable and has better rebound capabilities.
A thick polyfoam is best for young children who fall harder and faster than a more disciplined athlete. It will not last as long as cross-linked foam, but will provide more cushion for less money.
Cross-linked foam is the best choice for workouts and training because its superior rebound will help prevent overuse injuries.
A Brief History of Gymnastics and Tumbling
The word gymnastics is derived from a Greek term that is translated “to exercise or train naked”. The modern sport of gymnastics also has its roots in Ancient Greece.
In their culture, body development and physical fitness was highly-prized, with vigorous gymnastic activities practiced by both men and women. Some modern gymnastic techniques evolved from the exercises Greek soldiers practiced as part of their training for war, such as the mounting and dismounting of horses.
By the 1954 Olympic Games, the events apparatuses and grading system for gymnastic events had been standardized into the format you see today.
After the decline of Ancient Greece, interest in gymnastics waned and tumbling feats remained as a form of entertainment.
In the late 18th century, two physical fitness instructors, Johann Friedrich GutsMuths and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, designed exercises for boys and young men on many of the apparatuses used in modern day gymnastics competition. The popularity of these exercises spread to other countries, leading to international competitions and inclusion in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
By the 1954 Olympic Games, the events apparatuses and grading system for gymnastic events had been standardized into the format you see today. When the games were televised, audiences were wowed by the increasingly difficult and disciplined performances, making the sport more popular than ever.
A crowd-pleasing floor routine consists primarily of tumbling interwoven with artistic elements. Whether it's a cartwheel on the balance beam, or a double somersault to dismount the parallel bars, eye-catching tumbling skills are an important part of every competitive gymnastics routine.