Push in mats are used to aid the teaching of new skills and to reduce any injury that may occur during the learning process. The mats are small enough to be held balanced on the side of the trampoline, and rigid enough not to fold or flop whilst being held. They are soft enough
to absorb some of the power of the performer so that an incorrect landing is less likely to result in a high rebound, and to soften the effects of a bad landing.
Using Push in mats in a variety of ways ensures the safety of your pupil and gives them confidence whilst learning something which is new and unfamiliar.
The push in mat is an excellent teaching aid which may be used statically, or pushed in from the sides of the trampoline.
The mat is placed in the centre of the bed and used for teaching first attempts at body landings which can be very uncomfortable is performed incorrectly. Adequate handling and coach support should be provided where necessary throughout.
Using the mat in this manner gives the coach peace of mind and your pupils the confidence to attempt new skills. Pupils should continue to use the static mat until they can demonstrate the skill with technical correctness, consistency & confidence. Some pupils may be able to perform the skill perfectly, but if confidence is lacking they should continue to use the mat until such a time they are happy to progress to the next stage of learning.
Once a pupil has mastered the initial learning of a new skill, the mat can be removed from the static position and pushed in from the sides. This again gives the pupils the confidence to progress the skill whilst maintaining safety. You may find that some pupils will jump towards the mat and others will not. It is caused by a fear that the mat will not be pushed in so the pupils goes to the mat instead. This is a problem as they may land on the frame pads, or the mat may hit the pupil as they land or the pupil may completely miss the side of the trampoline altogether! If you experience this you will need to build trust between the mat pusher and pupil so that you can progress safely. Mat pushers should be trained, knowledgeable and competent.
Coaches should take care and know their pupils limits and abilities when considering the use of, and weaning off process of the push in matt.
FIT FOR PURPOSE
Push in mats are generally 1m x 1.5m and range from 10 – 20cm in depth and are used for teaching new skills from basic body landings to complex twisting, combination skills and somersaults. The idea of the push in mat is that they reduce the risks of injuries that could be sustained during the learning process. The best matts are light and easy to handle. Ideally, one person should be able to handle a push in matt. Remember that the size and thickness of the mat should be suitable for the skill.
Large and/or heavy safety/crash mats will require two mat pushers as they tend more difficult to handle than the smaller spotter type mats. Mats usually have two handles sewn to the sides for ease of use so one person per handle will assist in the mat being pushed on to the bed in an even fashion. These larger mats are suitable for teaching somersaults and complex skills where serious injuries and whiplashes could occur. The thickness of the mat provides extra safety and reduces the severity of any injury that may occur through incorrect landings. One downside to having two mat pushers is co-ordination and timing, will both pupils push in at the same time and in the same direction, using the same amount of push?
The upside is that it can be good for training new mat pushers, if they are teamed up with an experienced mat pusher and paying attention to what’s happening.
TRAINING MAT PUSHERS – All mat pushers should be trained, knowledgeable and confident. It is preferable that they know and have knowledge of the pupils abilities as this will aid their ability to make decisions regarding their mat pushing duties.
The mat should be balanced on the frame pad so that it does not flap while the pupil is bouncing
Practice pushing the mat into the middle of the bed and all four corners while the bed is empty
Practice pushing mat in for simple skills that the pupil can already do – gains trust and competence.
Ensure the coach, pupil and mat pusher knows what skill or progression is being performed and when the mat will be pushed in
Practice pushing the mat in for straight jumps instead of the skill your working on to check the mat pusher and pupil understands when the mat should be pushed in
Ensure Spotters are available incase anything goes wrong
Ensure you demonstrate all of the above so that it is clear to pupils what is expected of them.
Explain the seriousness of the role the mat pusher plays in teaching new skills, what might happen if they fail to push the mat in as instructed.
Always provide feedback and encouragement as mat pushers play a vital role in the teaching of new skills, and remember to give praise to the mat pusher as well as the pupil when they have worked hard and performed to the best of their abilities.
FIT FOR PURPOSE
Trampoline push in matts should be ‘fit for purpose’. This means that you should select the most appropriate size matt for the skill being covered. I