How is your relationship with Double Unders? Is it a love or hate relationship? Do you leave the gym looking like you’ve been beaten with whip marks and welts? I, too, have felt your pain. I spent 10-15 minutes every time I stepped foot in the gym lashing myself – I mean, practicing, for three whole months. According to Skipping Rope in Wikipedia, double unders are performed when the participant needs to jump up higher than usual while swinging the rope twice under his feet. Simple enough, right? One jump rope passes twice, DOUBLE, below the feet, UNDER you.
#1 – Jump Higher
As you can see in the above definition of double unders, the “participant needs to JUMP up HIGHER than usual.” You can jump just an inch off the ground during your normal jump rope routine, but a double under requires you to jump much higher. Jumping HIGHER and SLOWER helps create enough time for you to swing the jump rope twice underneath your feet, as opposed to just once. As you get better and more efficient at doing double unders, you won’t have to jump as high; but for now, speed will be counter productive.
#2 – Wrists, Wrists, Wrists!
Probably the #1 most common jump rope mistake is when beginners flail their arms, as opposed to turning their wrists in order to create momentum for the jump rope to start revolving. Jumping rope is all in the wrists, which should be roughly at waist height. Swinging your entire arm is inefficient and slow. Try adding a little additional pressure in the thumb and pointer finger to help snap the wrists.
#3 – Hand-Elbow Positioning
Another common mistake is extending the arms and elbows too far away from the body. This makes the jump rope shorter, so revolutions become more difficult. It’s also a challenge to use your wrists when you’re tense from the shoulders down. Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides and relaxed. Your hands should be hip height and slightly in front.
#4 – Torso Upright
Because double unders require that you generate significant speed to spin the rope around twice with one jump, beginners will often bend the torso forward in an effort to shorten the distance the jump rope needs to cover. Instead, remain upright, find a focal point in front of you, and jump through the balls of your feet.
#5 – Practice, Practice, Practice!
Any and everything gets better with practice, especially double unders. My worst enemy is now one of my favorite exercises/skills. Here are some tips:
1. Start off creating a relaxed, slow, high single jump rope cadence.
2. Add in a double under on your 10th single; single, single x 9 + double under
3. Cut the number down of single unders; single, single x 2-4 + double under
4. Once you’re able to do single + double, force yourself to cut the training wheels and go for consecutive reps!
Just remember that too much speed isn’t the answer. High, slow jump with a snap-snap of your wrist creates beautiful double unders without whip marks. You’ve got this – now go practice!