One of the most frustrating movements for many people is double-unders. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a double-under (DU) refers to jumping rope while swinging the rope twice (double) under your feet for every one jump. First I will say, that if you want to learn double-unders then you should spend 3-4 days a week jumping rope for at least 5 minutes. Learning DU’s is a commitment and it requires practice.
With some practice, most people get pretty comfortable with single-unders and will have decent form. Most people maintain a fairly straight-up body position, keeping their shoulders and arms relaxed and bouncing lightly on the balls of your feet. But as soon as they have committed to attempting some double-unders everything changes. They go from a relaxed bounce to flailing arms. Their legs start kicking, the body starts piking, and the feet start stomping instead of bouncing. The rope then goes from a smooth turn over to a full-speed spin cycle as they attempt to knock out as many DU’s before getting wiped into submission.
So here are a few tips to think about while practicing you DU’s:
- Think about slowing the rope down
- Choose the right rope length: add 36 inches to your height
- Select the right cable weight: 3-4 ounces without the handles
- Maintain proper hand position: 3-5 inches away from your hipbones
- Jump higher: 4-6 inches off the ground
Slow the Rope Down
The belief that the rope needs to move super fast in order to make it around twice is what is causing you to quit jumping rope looking like you just receive lashes. Instead of speeding the rope up you just need to give the rope more time to get around twice.
Choose the Right Length Rope
The first thing you need to do is get a rope that fits the type of training you are doing. We want a rope long enough to give us a little tolerance as our form changes during a workout. The easiest way to determine the rope length is to add 36 inches (3 feet) to your height. This added length will basically position the rope 12 inches above and below your head when jumping.
A quick way to find the right length is to step on the middle of the rope with one foot and stand up straight holding the ends of the cable to your sternum. The ends of the cable should hit about nipple height. The handles should not be part of the measurement.
Select the Right Cable Weight
Many people think they need a super thin cable because they see competitive rope jumpers using them, but you are not in a competition. You should look for a rope with a non-elastic cord between 3-4 ounces in weight (not including handles). Having a slightly heaver cable gives you better awareness of where the rope is as it moves around your body. The heaver cable also makes it easier for you to control the speed of the rope and SLOW IT DOWN.
Maintain Proper Hand Position
Hold the handles of the rope at your hip crease with your elbows down and pulled back slightly. Keep your wrist turned so your palms are facing forward with only 3-5 inches of space between your hands and hipbones.
Instead of attempting to jump the same height you would while doing single-unders and speeding the rope up, simply jump higher in order to give the rope more time to make it around two full revolutions. Aim to jump 4-6 inches off the ground, which will slow your tempo and turnover rate. Slowing your tempo will allow you to start seeing the rope. This will help you improve your timing by allowing you to jump right as the rope comes to the feet, which will optimize your airtime. You will also notice that a slower tempo will help you keep your heart rate down and breathing controlled.
So how do you jump higher? You want to maintain a tall upright body position with your glutes and quads engaged. Your knees will bend slightly but also remain engaged mimicking a spring effect whiling bounding (which means bouncing) off the balls of your feet. You want to think about minimizing the amount of time your feet are on the ground. The less time they are on the ground then the less likely they are going to hit the rope.
If you want help getting a feel for the proper jump height you should ask a coach or friend to hold their hand or a soft target like a magazine about 6 inches above your head while you practice jumping.
Remember that you may not pick up DU’s after only a few days of practice; however, if you stay committed to practicing 5 minutes a few days a week then you will get it. If you remember only one thing from everything you’ve read, remember this: seek to SLOW DOWN by jumping higher, which in turn will also slow the rope and ultimately make it easier to learn to do DU’s consistently.