1 877-822-6622 Talk to an expert!
Contact Us We're here to help

Best Fall Protection Mats

Best Fall Protection Cheer Mats: Foam, Rubber & PVC

If you need fall protection for your home or facility, make sure you understand the various materials that are available. From fall protection foam to durable rubber, there are many options that you can choose.

All of the best fall protection mats carry important and special characteristics. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the basics of fall protection mats and their different advantages. Doing so will help to uncover which product is right for you and your unique needs.

Fall Protection for Cheerleading

There is a wide variety of sports that require fall protection to keep athletes safe. Take cheerleading for example. It may not be considered a contact sport like football or wrestling, but it can actually be one of the more dangerous activities, especially when pyramids and lifts are involved. Falling can lead to bumps, bruises, and even bone fractures and concussions, so having a soft, cushioning surface is important to the safety of cheerleaders.

Much of cheerleading is performed on hard surfaces like basketball courts or tracks next to football fields, which has proven to contribute to some serious cheerleading-related injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that cheerleading was responsible for 65% of all direct catastrophic injuries for high school female athletes between 1982 and 2009. When you take that into consideration with the fact that above 93% of those accidents happened on hard surfaces, it becomes all the more clear that a soft landing surface is critical for health and safety.

Selecting the right fall protection foam, rubber or plastic takes time, and it often depends on your specific needs. Even for the same sport, different kinds of training may require differing flooring. Once again, take cheerleading as an example, for which there are several different flooring solutions. For example, puzzle mats, which were originally designed for martial arts and other combat sports, can be effective for learning dance choreography. Carpet-bonded foam mats, as well as folding mats, can be used to provide reliable protection while training or performing stunts and tumbling. Another option is sprung floors, which are usually 12 to 20 centimeters thick, and provide great all-around protection. Although nothing can completely prevent fall injuries, these mats provide excellent protection for cheerleaders of all ages and skill levels.

Top 5 Flooring Materials for Fall Protection

When you begin researching the best fall protection mats, you'll want to make sure you understand the most common materials used to create these products. Depending on your needs and the specific flooring you will cover, having the right material can make a wide range of differences on the performance, reliability, and longevity of your mats.

1. Rubber

Rubber is a widely used material for a number of different sports including weight training and aerobic exercise. Rubber is a strong, firm surface. Although it doesn't always have the springy, soft feeling of mats made from foam, rubber can give added cushioning, especially when used over hard concrete or asphalt. Some rubber is extremely dense and will not provide any cushion for falls. Other, however, has enough cushion to be shock-absorbant.

Fall protection rubber comes in recycled and virgin material and can give excellent traction for workouts and exercises. Rubber is not generally preferred for combat sports with lots of rolling, like wrestling or judo, as it is too grippy.

One of the top benefits for rubber is that it is extremely durable. Unlike soft foam, rubber can put up with serious beatings for years on end. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas that need traction and light fall protection.

Depending on the design and thickness of your rubber flooring, it quite often offers the greatest fall protection as a stand-alone flooring, which is why it is commonly used for outdoor playground with tall equipment.

A few of the best fall protection mats made of rubber are as follows:

Sterling Playground Tile 5 Inch Black
This black rubber flooring with fall protection is excellent for outdoor playgrounds and other areas where traction and fall protection are important. The tiles use an interlocking system to hold together strong and can be used to cover many different surfaces. Sterling Playground tiles come in different thicknesses and thus varying ASTM critical fall height ratings, but the five-inch tile has an incredible ten-foot rating.

Blue Sky Playground Interlocking Tile 3.75 Inch

Safety is essential for children, and these mats deliver an eight-foot fall rating, giving you versatility and reliability. They are great for playground with high monkey bars, climbing areas, and tall platforms. These tiles come in six different pleasing colors as well.

Bounce Back Playground Tiles

Put a little bounce in the playground with this fall protection rubber material. You can rest easy knowing that these rubber mats are tough and reliable enough to come with a ten year limited warranty. Ranging from 1.75 inches to 4 inches thick, these tiles are rated to handle falls of between 3 to 10 feet, depending on the thickness of the tile.

2. EVA Foam

Ethylene-vinyl acetate, which is commonly abbreviated to ''EVA,'' is a foam flooring with fall protection that is made from elasticized closed-cells. EVA foam is a popular choice for athletic activities because it is so shock-absorbing. Although similar to rubber in its softness and flexibility, EVA foam tends to be more cushioned and shock absorbent. Certain EVA products also have an anti-fatigue quality, making it popular for exercise areas and tracks. This material will absorb the impact from falls and provide superior safety to many different athletes.

As a closed-cell foam, EVA is firmer than open-cell foams, which allows for subtle movements while athletes are standing on the material. The firmness of the foam can help reduce the risk of rolling ankles.

Best Fall Protection Mats Made from EVA foam

Indoor Playground Foam Tiles 1-5/8 Inch
These playground mats are constructed of top-of-the-line EVA foam for maximum protection. As a soft surface, this mat is excellent for indoor playgrounds and offers a 4 foot critical fall height rating. These mats have even undergone experiments in which raw eggs were dropped onto them from 68 feet and the eggs did not break. Indoor Play Foam Tiles come in three attractive color combos. It has puzzle-locking edges, so you can create surfaces to cover a large area if needed.

Home MMA BJJ Mats 1-5/8 Inch
If you practice martial arts, MMA, or wrestling, you can train at home and still have the professional-level surface you need with this fall protection foam. The surface is defined by a tatamis top texture, which helps prevent rug burns, an important safety feature in both barefoot and shoe-wearing martial arts. This mat also carries a 4-foot fall height rating.

Life Floor Super Grip Ripple Tiles 7/8 Inch Bluebird
Pool surrounds tend to be prone to slips and falls, so it is important to have fall protection like Life Floor Super Grip Ripple Tiles. These tiles are soft and provide superior fall protection, especially compared to hard concrete pool decks. This fall protection foam/rubber blended mat is designed to provide excellent traction with the patented EvaTrax tile making technology. Although approximately half the thickness of the above EVA foam mats, it offers the same level of all protection with a 4-foot rating.

3. PVC Plastic

PVC plastic may not be the first thing one thinks of when it comes to the best fall protection mats. Although it does not provide the same level of cushion, it does actually protect bodies when falls happen, especially in comparison to concrete. PVC is used in many different products (well beyond the white PVC pipes) and creates a light yet solid and durable substance with a large variation flexibility and hardness that can withstand a lot of pressure.

One of the top benefits of PVC is that it works well for water and mold resistance. It won't absorb water like open-cell foam products, which makes it a superior option for outdoor use.

Best Fall Protection Mats Made from PVC

Staylock Perforated Tiles
These excellent PVC tiles are perforated, allowing water and other liquids to run underneath. This gives them better performance for outside use in areas like playgrounds or even decks. When laid over concrete, they create a top-quality surface. At just 9/16 inch thick, these tiles offer a 20 inch fall height rating. Although this may not seem like much compared to other fall protection mats, it can make all of the difference when an accident does occur.

Ergo Matta Perforated Outdoor Tile
Available in multiple colors, these perforated tile mats can give your surface an excellent style along with superior functionality. Although primarily designed for outdoor play areas like low-level playgrounds, these tiles are also awesome for display areas and patio decks.These tiles are the same thickness and offer the same fall protection as the Staylock Perforated Tiles but are rectangular in shape, rather than square.

4. PU Foam

For those seeking the next level of cushion, polyurethane or PU foam is the way to go. This is an open-cell fall protection foam guaranteed to reduce the impact of fall injuries. Because it is so cushiony and soft, it is more easily damaged and punctured than other materials. Thus, it is usually covered by another material such as vinyl or denim. It is often the best choice for landing pads to provide safe, comfortable support.

Best Fall Protection Mat with PU Foam

Competition Landing Mats

There are a variety of landing mats used in cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts and other sports made from high-quality PU foam. Consider these mats when extra protection is needed over normal flooring. These mats are custom-made to your exact preferences. You can choose various thicknesses and overall sizes, giving you the right mats for your specific sport or facility. Topped with a gorgeous laminate, these mats look great in any area.

5. PE Foam

The most common type of foam available, polyethylene (PE) has a high-impact strength and waxy surface feeling. PE foam products can withstand and absorb a whole lot of energy before reaching its breaking point, which makes them tough and long-lasting. This fall protection foam is often cross-linked, which makes the foam more rigid and helps it rebound from pressure faster. PE foam is a versatile fall-protection material often used in both folding and roll-out mats.

The foam material in these plastic fall protection mats is not ideal as a surface, so the material is often covered with a layer of vinyl, carpet or denim to provide surface protection and enhance the mat's visual appearance. Therefore, PE foam products come in a plethora of colors and styles.

Best Fall Protection Mats Made from PE Foam

Fluffy Denim Gymnastic Mat

This is perfect for athletes who land on their backs or stomachs as part of their sport. Athletes who participate in gymnastics or tumbling, for example, will appreciate the soft, supportive nature of this fall protection foam mat. It measures 5x6.6 feet and is 12 inches thick, creating a large, supportive space.

Gym Mats 5x10x2

Gym Mats aim to satisfy the fall protection needs of athletes of all types. However, they are most commonly used by gymnasts and wrestlers. They can be laid out in long strips or together throughout a room to give you the fall protection you need.

6. Bonus: Sprung Floors

For superior resilience, spring and bounce on dance floors, try our Sprung Dance SubFloor Full Panel. They have the strength you need for hours of dancing but absorb energy to provide softer landings. No special adhesives are required, but you will need to perform some light carpentry to install them properly. This sprung flooring system utilizes both closed cell foam and medium density fiberboard materials.

Your Source for Fall Protection

To find more of the best fall protection mats, check out more of Gym Rubber by Greatmats products. No matter the material, sport or circumstance, Gym Rubber will help you achieve a safe and protective floor - all within your budget.

For more on this topic please review our Playground Flooring Mats and Tiles product page.
For more on this topic please review our Playground Rubber Safety Surfaces product page.