Yesterday we hosted the folks from PunkRope for a 2 1/2 hour seminar on jumping rope.  Two.  And a half.  Hours.  Jumping.  Yes.

No, we did not jump nonstop for two hours.  But the biggest non-believer in the class (read that, Head Coach Steve) was the one still jumping after the class was over.  We jumped a lot.  And we learned a lot of great cues. 

My favorite take-away from the whole event:  doubleunders is a core exercise.  It takes some serious midline stability.  Its not unlike doing a plank, and jumping.  A soft core is tiring and inefficient. 

A doubleunder, of course, is when you jump rope, and the rope passes under you twice.

First:  what size rope?  Split the rope in half, with your foot holding the midway point under your body.  For doubleunders, the top of the rope should measure to your nipple line.  (Can I say that?) That’s your size.

Let’s talk about form.

  • Start with your feet together and keep them together when you jump.  Try to stay in the same place.
  • Your elbows should be tight at your waist, up against your ribs.  Your forearms should be slightly in front of you.   Keep those elbows in the whole time.  (more on that later)
  • Hold the handle halfway – with the bottom of the handle in the small of your hand.  More like a drumstick, and less like a tennis racket.  It gives your wrist more flexibility to move in a circle.
  • Your core should be tight and strong.  You are jumping up and down comfortably, like a ninja landing on the ball of your foot so you can bounce right up again.  Like a pogo-stick – not all squishy.  Hold your core tight.  Think plank.
  • All your rope rotation comes from the wrist.  Not your shoulders.  Not your elbows.  And not your forearms.  Using your whole arm is inefficient and exhausting. Wrists rotate in circles, snapping the rope around you when you double under.  We learned some great wrist mobility exercises.
  • Practice jumping singles first.  Slowly.  There is no need to hurry.  Keep yourself in the same place, with the wrists flicking the rope around you. Get a good rhythm.

Now let’s try doubleunders.

The only way to get doubleunders is to try.  And try again.  And again.

So…let’s start slowly.  Jump slowly.  Jump 3 (not 2, and not 4) singles, and then try a doubleunder.  Didn’t get it?  Fine.  Do it again.  Jump 3 singles, and then one double under.  Three singles gives you a good rhythm before you try the double under.  Keep this rhythm.

This is an exercise in timing and coordination.  It is as important to use your ears to hear the rope moving as it is to feel it.  Frankly, it’s too hard to see the rope, so you need to get a little zen about the timing.

The timing issue:  when do your wrists flick the rope around you faster in order to get it around you twice?

Flick the rope when it’s falling in front of you, not above you, nor behind you.  For me, I think of snapping the rope on the floor in front of me.

The rope should be hitting the floor about 8 inches in front of your feet.  If your arms get wide (and your elbows move away from your waist), the rope gets shorter (and hits your ankles).  If you move your arms behind you, the rope hits the floor under you not in front of you (and again, hits your ankles).  Keep those elbows in tight, and remember to make quick circles with your wrists, not your arms.

Have a partner watch you.  Are you moving your arms wide?  Behind you?  Are you crooked, with only one wrist circling the rope? 

Here’s a great way to find the rhythm.  Jump up and down (without the rope).  Hit your thigh twice while you’re in the air.  That’s how fast the rope must move.  That’s the sound of the rope moving.  Listen to your body.  You really don’t have to jump faster or higher.  You need to jump better.

We’ll show you some poor double under movement patterns in the gym.  Donkey kicks, pikes, moving arms.  You may have your double unders but if you’re kicking and piking, you’re not moving efficiently.  Hold that core.

Once you get your double unders – even if its only one or two at a time, incorporate them completely into your WOD.  Singles are never going to make you better at double unders.  While you’re trying to get your double unders, scale your workouts accordingly.  Talk to your coach about it.  Don’t worry about the clock.  Perfect the movement, and soon enough you’ll be on your way.