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How to Jump Rope

June 19th, 2009

Before I get into this post I should let you know that I am no jump rope expert, just someone who recently researched the art of skipping so I could apply the correct technique to my practise and to group fitness classes I will occasionally be leading. What I learned is this - you don't have to be perfect to get benefits from skipping, but you should be aware of your form and try to improve it so you can reduce joint impact and make it safer and more enjoyable - the same rule that applies to any fitness activity you take up.

Warm-up

Before jumping right in it's a must to warm up the muscles and get some lubrication flowing to the joints. Otherwise you may end up tired achy after just a few minutes. A good warm-up involves dynamic movements for the upper and lower body. Marching in place, side step taps and the boxer's shuffle will do the job for your legs. Prepare the upper body by doing shoulder shrugs, arm circles and making the arm movements without a rope. About five minutes of progressive warming-up should do it.

Jump in

Prepare by jumping lightly, with one foot touching down a split second before the other (like the boxer's shuffle) or with both feet landing softly at the same time. You should feel springy on your feet. If you start skipping from a dead stop it can be harder to get into a rhythm. Practise jumping into the rope for a few minutes, even if you get it on your first attempt. Swing the rope from one side of your body to the other, bringing it wide when it's in front of your body so you'll have lots of space to jump in. Once you can jump in and out of the rope consistently, try to jump in while your arms are crossed.

Technique

  • Jumping - Big, klunky jumps are best to be avoided. To ensure skipping is somthing you'll want to do and be able to keep doing, strive for maintaining soft knees and performing low jumps, with the rope close to the top of your head and no slack in it. Land on the balls of your feet and let your entire foot absorb the impact.
  • Speed - To begin with focus on form instead of speed or length of time you can skip. Play it like you did as a kid and try to make it to 20 jumps. When you reach that number try to make it to 30, 40 and so on. You won’t feel as pressured to do more than your cardiovascular system can handle. Before you know it you’ll have reached the one minute mark and beyond. On the other hand, once you get the hang of it, skipping too slowly can cause the rope to catch on your feet. Try to work up to a good beginner pace of 60 to 70 turns per minute. Often choosing the right jump rope can make it easier to get up to speed.
  • Torso - Keep your back straight and don't bend forward from the waist.
  • Wrists, Arms and shoulders - Turn the rope with your wrists and keep your elbows close to the sides of your body. Power should come from your forearms, not your shoulders.

There you have it. Everything I know about skipping. If you want to know more check out pros like Buddy Lee, who have created instructional DVDs and jump rope workouts. Or you can try this simple 10 minute routine (link coming soon). Now get out there and try it already.

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