Double unders: A skip rope move that involves passing the rope around your body twice during one jump.
I suck at skipping. Which is fairly embarrassing as a child from the 80s and 90s. So when the butterflies kicked in when I joined CrossFit and the first thing I was instructed to do was a double under. Seriously? I can barely get through 3 skips in a row let alone rotating the rope twice while keeping my body sustained in mid-air.
But with some practice and some great coaching from my friends at Reebok CrossFit Liberty Village, I’ve actually seen drastic improvements in my skill. It’s a work in progress but I’m getting there! I can now do 3 double unders in a row which is as good as a gold star for me. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.
One of the most important parts of mastering a double under is rope selection. It’s best to use a proper speed rope that is very thin and rotates quickly. Try using a cable rope which is what I use – you can even customize the length. The handles shouldn’t be physically attached to the rope. Ensure the length is right for your height by holding the handles with your arms fully extended forward and the rope behind your knees. Your arms should be parallel to the ground if the rope length is right!
Start by practicing fast, short skips while keeping your elbows in tight and using minimal movement in your wrists to turn the rope. Next practice very high jumps while rotating the rope very slowly. Mastering a double-under requires a combination of these two movements – slightly higher jumps while turning the rope very quickly. Move towards doing 10 fast skips followed by 10 slow skips. This is actually a really great cardio workout at the same time so sweat away!
Once you get this down pat you are ready to attempt a double under. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your elbows in tight and use minimal wrist movement to turn the rope
- Avoid extreme bending of your knees mid-jump (tuck jumps)
- Stay relaxed and avoid tensing up as it will throw off your timing
Timing is key! The first rotation of the rope should occur as you are jumping up and the second should happen as you are coming back down to the ground. Doing a “tuck jump” (overbending your knees in the air) will throw this timing off.
If you are able to successfully complete one double-under but have difficulties doing more than one in a row, try alternating between one double-under and one single skip. This is a great transition to being able to bust out the 50 in a row that are often required any given WOD.