Those in search of a high-quality mat to practice their tumbling techniques will find two primary options: traditional tumble track mats and newer, inflatable tumbling mat products like those from our team at AirTrack. Learn the difference between the two here.
What is the Difference Between an AirTrack vs Tumbling Track
The inflatable and traditional tumble track: one is filled with air, the other is a trampoline. This key difference leads to a number of respective advantages and disadvantages for buyers. In this guide, we take an in-depth look at both product options. We also compare revolutionary AirTrack products to other inflatable gymnastics mat products on the market today. Get all the info you need to make an informed decision and take your tumbling to the next level.
What is a Tumble Track?
For those who don’t know, a tumble track is a cushioned and/or bouncy platform specifically designed to help gymnasts and other acrobatic athletes perfect skills such as flips, somersaults, round-offs, and more. Historically, tumble tracks have been designed in accordance with traditional “tumbling”: a formal gymnastics discipline in which participants perform a series of skills down a 25-meter (82 foot) sprung track. Though still commonly used as training for traditional tumbling, the tumble track mats discussed here differ from those used in competition in a few essential ways.
Because they are based off trampoline technology, technique and skills learned on the tumble track are markedly different than those used on the spring floor or dead floor. Skills tend to be elongated and slowed down with timing matched to the slow stretched bounce of the trampoline. Next, tumble track mats vary in both length and width. Some are quite small and may be used to practice a single skill, while others may be sized to accommodate a specific portion of a pass. Finally, tumble track mats aren’t reserved for gymnasts alone. They are also used by parkour enthusiasts, martial artists, cheerleaders, and other acrobatic athletes to practice similar skill sets.
Traditional Tumble Track Mats
With a bit of background on tumble track mats and what they’re used for, it’s time to dive into the essential differences between air track vs tumbling track products. First up are traditional tumble track mats. These mats have been around the longest, and their design is simple and straightforward. Unlike tumble tracks used for competition (which contain springs for rebound), tumble track mats contain synthetic padding for cushioning and safety. These mats are often segmented for easy assembly or rolling up.
Inflatable Tumble Track Alternatives (AirTrack P3)
Newer to the tumbling scene are inflatable tumbling mat products. Unlike their traditional counterparts, these mats are filled with air rather than physical padding. This gives them rebound characteristics that more closely mimic spring tracks used for competition. When fully inflated, air tumble tracks allow athletes to bounce several inches to feet in the air. That said, these mats must be inflated in order to benefit athletes. They can be deflated at any time for compact storage and lightweight carry.
Air Tracks vs Traditional Tumbling Tracks: Advantages and Drawbacks
Finding the right fit for your gym or backyard starts with comparing your needs with the benefits listed below.
Starting with traditional tumble track mats, the biggest benefit is cost. These mats have been around longer, and the cost to produce them has decreased with time. They also require no costly power to set up, while some air tumble tracks require continuous air from an electric pump. Traditional tumble track mats also provide more cushion than fully inflated air tumble mats, making them a good choice for those in search of padding over spring.
The benefits of these newer inflatable tumbling alternatives are numerous. First and foremost, air tracks provide much more rebound than traditional tumbling mats. This makes them a great choice for an athlete looking to simulate the responsiveness of a competition-grade, spring-loaded tumbling track. Of course, air tracks are much lighter than spring tracks, and considerably lighter than padded tumble tracks, too—even when fully inflated. This makes them an attractive option for those who like to rearrange their spaces and those who may be traveling with their mats.
The benefits of inflatable tumble track products don’t stop there. These mats are also easier to store than their traditional counterparts. When fully deflated, they can fit into relatively small spaces, such as utility closets or car trunks. Plus, for those who want a custom fit or specific rebound performance, certain air track companies offer wide product selections and custom assembly options to meet the needs of their clients. Traditional tumble mats can’t add rebound. Air tracks can.
Factors to Consider When Looking for a Gymnastics Mat
As you continue to weigh the differences between inflatable mats and traditional tumble track mats, here are a few more factors you should consider before buying.
Your tumble track needs to fit your space. It also needs to safely accommodate the exercises you’re performing. Never buy a product without knowing its dimensions, and always measure your space to make sure it’s a good fit.
Weight & Convenience
No matter where you set your tumble track up, you’re going to have to move it every so often. You want one that’s light enough to move around without hassle. Ideally, you also want one that can be packed into a relatively small space to make travel and storage a breeze. Here is a quick breakdown of inflatable mat weight by size:
- 10 feet/25lbs
- 20 feet/60-80lbs
- 30 feet/90-100lbs
- 40 feet/150lbs+
- 50 feet/225lbs+
When placing your mat, you will need to make sure that your area is free of rough, sharp, or flammable objects. Padded ground is best for cushion, though carpet and grass work well too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can an inflatable gymnastics mat be used on grass?
Yes. AirTrack mats are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. They are a great choice for the grassy terrain found in backyards or parks.
Should the AirTrack tumble track be folded or rolled for storage?
Though you can fold AirTrack tumble tracks, the best way to store them is to roll them up.
What pressure should I use for an AirTrack tumble track mat?
The pressure required for your AirTrack mat will depend on the product, sports type, skill level and weight of the users. Use enough pressure to avoid bottoming out, and always refill before each training session. Refer to your user manual for recommended pressure levels.
Get Your AirTrack Tumbling Mats
Interested in getting more info on the differences between AirTrack vs tumbling track products? Our team at AirTrack is here to help. Explore our website to learn more about the many features and benefits of our tumbling products, and head over to our info page to learn how you can get in touch with our experts to have your questions answered.
The AirTrack Difference
If you’ve decided that an air track is the right choice for your needs, your next step is to find a brand and product you can trust. In that area, there is no better choice than our team here at AirTrack. Read why below, or contact us to learn from our team now!
Industry-leading safety standards. All our products conform to ASTM, ISO, TUV and REACH industry standards, as well as IATP, USAG, FIG, and USASF governing body guidelines. Each and every one of our mats are extensively tested before leaving our facilities to ensure they work exactly the way they’re supposed to.
USA-made quality. Our mats are made in the USA using premium materials that are both durable and high-performing. Our synthetics are highly puncture-resistant and finished for physical contact. Plus, they’re backed by our 2-year warranty.
An extensive selection for every acrobat. AirTrack tumble tracks like the AirTrack P2 and AirTrack P3 feature unique thicknesses for different rebound characteristics. We also offer a wide range of additional accessories, like our AirBox, AirSteps, AirSpot, and AirRamp for more acrobatic maneuvers. Our diverse array of versatile products has made AirTrack a household name in gymnastics, dance, parkour, martial arts, cheer, and cirque acrobatics.
Custom options for every setting. Sometimes, a custom mat is the way to go. With an extensive R&D department and robust production facilities, we have the infrastructure you can count on to bring your ideas to life. Contact us to get your custom order started.
35 years of experience. We’ve been building mats for nearly four decades. This long standing experience has allowed us to build lasting relationships with top athletes and associations across the world. AirTrack products are the tumbling mats of choice for USAG, Varsity, Rebel, SkyZone, Disney, and more.