Let me start this by saying that I am by no means a pro at double unders! I have however improved massively since starting my CrossFit journey and now consider myself quite competent in the art of swinging a jump rope twice under my feet. The following is what I have learnt under expert guidance to get me to where I am today and the points that I will continue to work on for years to come.
What is a Double Under?
A double under is exactly how it sounds a jump rope exercise where the rope completes two revolutions around your body with each jump.
Double unders are popular as a CrossFit movement but also an extremely good conditioning exercise used across many disciplines.
How to Improve your Double Unders
1.Use your wrists to move the rope
The most common mistake I see people making when starting out on double unders is when they use all of their arms to move the rope, making huge windmill motions. If you’re moving your arms like windmills to get it round, you’re really going to struggle to get the rope round twice in one jump and it’s not efficient on your arms.
The key is to swing the rope using your wrists, think of it like a flick of the wrist. It takes a lot less time to flick your wrists than it does to windmill your arms round. Practice flicking your wrists for single skips until you’ve got a handle on it and then try and speed up your flicking. Once you have mastered this you’re half way their.
2. Keep your elbows close to your body
Another common mistake I notice and that I was initially guilty of is allowing your elbows to move away from your sides. If this is you you’re likely stringing together some double unders or a combination of single skips and doubles and then wham you hit yourself in the back of the head, or the feet. What’s happening here is that your elbows are coming away from your body, which is causing the loop of the rope around your body to shorten and as a result not long enough to pass over.
The key is to keep your elbows as close to your rib cage as possible without letting them move away from your body. Working on using your wrists to move the rope as mentioned in point 1, will help you to achieve this.
3. Jump high and straight
When you do a single skip it’s likely that you are only completing a very shallow jump as that’s all you need to pass the rope under your feet once. However that isn’t going to cut it if you want to complete two revolutions in one jump, which means you are going to have to get a lot more air time on your jump.
When trying to achieve a higher jump an easy mistake to make is to kick your legs up behind you, which in theory might give you a little extra time for the rope to pass below you, but in reality this is going to cause you to land a lot heavier on the ground, upset your balance and result in a longer rebound time.
Try and keep your feet directly below your body as you jump, leaving from and landing back on the balls of your feet. This is going to shorten your rebound time, give you more control and allow you to string together multiple double unders.
4. Get your own Jump Rope and stick to it
When you’re in the box avoid just picking up any old jump rope. Ropes can vary massively, in my box I can picture the rail of ropes that all vary in type, thickness & weight.
For starters you need a rope that is sized to your height, if you pick up a rope that has been sized to someone considerably shorter than you, you are really going to struggle to hit any double unders at all. The length, thickness and weight of a rope are all going to affect the speed and timing of the rope as you skip, changing between styles of rope will mean that you will have to adapt your tempo each time you pick a new one up which is going to slow your progress and as a beginner cause you to really struggle.
5. Find your Rhythm
With double Unders, unlike single jumps you can’t keep on rotating the jump rope at the same speed throughout, the speed at which it takes you to go through the double rotation will not give you enough time to hit the ground and then rebound again if you do. You need to find your correct rhythm to allow you to successfully pass the rope twice under your feet and then give you enough time to hit the ground and jump again before repeating.
Put your rope aside for a minute and practice some of the larger jumps I spoke about earlier. While jumping, slap yourself twice on the thigh in quick succession, take a longer pause with your hands as your feet land back down and then jump and slap yourself twice on the thigh again. Tap tap pause, tap tap pause
This is the rhythm of the wrist flick rotations you need to master to start stringing together multiple double unders.
6. Practice until you get it right
Getting competent at double unders is going to take time and you need to put the practice and training time in to get it right, but if you follow the tips mentioned above you should start to see the results instantly.