CrossFit has played a big role in the re-invention of the Jump Rope. The Double Under is perhaps one of the most taxing cardiovascular exercises that can be done with minimal investment. Next to sprinting, it’s benefits are great. It is a skill which demands [or should we say rewards] coordination and agility.
Top 7 Points When Trying to Master the Double Under:
- Get a Fitted Jump Rope - Nothing makes the Double Under more difficult that when you constantly change equipment. Grabbing one of the ropes off the Wall at the local box is only going to take you so far. Too short a jump rope and the rope won’t make it under your feet. Too long and the cable hits too far in front slowing the speed of the rope. Here's a quick guide for cable length: For those at 5'6" height and less, add 2'10" to your height. For those over 5'6", add 3'0". With proper hand and arm position, these cable lengths will get you off and running.
- Keep Your Jump Rope in your car/gym bag - I keep my rope right at the gym. I know that if Double Unders are in the workout, I'm prepared. While you are learning the skill, keep your jump rope in your duffel or car. And when you get an opportunity to practice at home, you've got your rope available.
- It is not a Violent Movement. It is very easy to believe that there is a tremendous amount of effort required to get the rope under your feet twice. In the beginning, I found myself kicking my heels almost to my glutes to allow for more time for the rope. Hey - it's natural to think that. And although it does provide more time to get the rope under, it is not a method you want to practice because it quickly drains your energy and it is not efficient. If you watch those that are skilled in the movement, it appears more effortless than not. In order to string 30-40-50 or more double unders in a row, you've got to stay relaxed and have a fluid motion. The effort is in turning the wrists quickly, not in bringing your body into a full tuck position so you can get the rope under.
- Begin with the End in Mind. Ultimately, you will master the skill best when you are performing it relaxed. It is better to practice single under-double under-single under-double under than to get three doubles in a row and have to exhaust yourself doing it. Keep relaxed while practicing.
- When to Practice - Fresh and Tired. Practice is the key. The skill will not come without consistent effort. But, like riding a bike, once you've got it, it seems to stick pretty well as long as you have a properly sized rope. I think some of the best times to practice are in the Pre-WOD warmup and Post WOD. You've got to practice when you are fresh to give yourself the best chance at stringing them together. But you've also got to know how to do them tired since you eventually want to work them into the WOD.
- Arm Position - During the jump, your arms can tend to float away from your body. When this happens, the rope effectively shortens. That means misses. Some try to compensate by kicking the heels higher to create more space. Don't do that. Instead, keep your elbows in tight to your body and keep your body as vertical as you can.
- Brain Training - I once read an article about a Free Throw shooting practice technique that involved two groups. Both groups practied an hour a day in front of the basket, but one group was also told to spend 15 minutes visualizing themselves shooting and making free throws after practice. The study concluded that the group that also visualized performed better - seriously better. To help with visualization, practice in front of a mirror.
The Double Under will come with patient, diligent practice and with a proper jump rope. The thin cable jump ropes are fine for the gym. They are inexpensive and can be fitted for the masses. But, I've found that a properly sized jump rope with a thicker cable will grant you success far faster than grabbing one off the wall of the local box.
We've got two styles of Jump Ropes available:
- The Hammerhead RX Jump Rope - custom built to your height and your current skill level. Starting off with this rope gives you the best chance for success. The Cable thicknessess are sized according to your ability.
- The Cable Jump Rope - ideally for the CrossFit Affiliate owner, this cable jump rope is best suited to keep in the gym for the brand new athlete to use before they purchase their own. They are affordable and adjustable. Many Gym Owners we talk to keep three colors in their gym and size them this way: Red - Small, Blue - Medium, Black - Large.