On the surface, the double-under can look smooth and effortless, but dissecting the movement will reveal a multitude of complex components that prevent us from getting any better. Here are five reasons that your double-under progress might be stalling:
Athlete on the featured image: Chelsea Grigsby
1. Arm Positioning
The arms alone present lots of potential for mechanical dysfunction. Too high, too wide or too far behind/in front of the hips can throw you way off. One of the most common faults we see is when the hands start to flare out wide, which essentially shortens the amount of available rope we have to jump with. If your jump rope is constantly catching your toes, take a look at your arm positioning. Relax the shoulders; keep elbows bent, and your hands right next to your pockets. Even when fatigued, this position is more efficient.
2. Rope Length
Figuring out the appropriate length for a cable can be a tough task, especially considering how much it can affect the above-mentioned arm positioning. If the cable is too long, it will strike the ground too far away from your feet and then bounce rather than skimming the floor, which is ideal. This also causes us to unconsciously widen our arms to eat up some of that cable length. If the cable is too short we have the opposite problem, and no matter how tight our form is, that cable will just hit our feet or shins. A great starting point for all athletes is to have the cable long enough that if you stand in the center of it with one foot, the handles will hit just about mid chest.
3. Piking Your Hips
If you find yourself landing heavy and flat-footed, analyze your hips – it is likely that you are piking with each jump. Piking (or doing the “dolphin-kick”) puts you in a prime position to land on your heels and compromise your rebound jump. Try keeping those legs right underneath your torso at all times in a nice neutral hanging sort of fashion. If that’s hard to do right away, think about kicking your heels up to your butt, working to minimize that movement over time.
4. Jumping Height/Timing
If this is your issue, it might be a little more difficult to pinpoint. The height of your jump should relate to the speed of your cable. For example, a higher jump should correspond with a slower cable rotation, and a lower jump should correspond with a faster cable rotation. If you are newer to the double-under and feel like you’ve got timing issues, jump high and give yourself enough time to get the rope under your feet twice. As that starts to feel more comfortable, speed up your rope and bring your jump lower incrementally. Eventually, you will have efficient timing and a nice and easy jump.
Just like anything else we do in life, double unders take some practice. We so often obsess with mastering gymnastics movements or Olympic lifts, and yet double unders don’t get the same love.
Well, guess what? Mastering the rope can be a relatively easy process compared to that of learning a muscle up or perfecting the snatch. We’re willing to bet that if you put in 15 minutes a day, three days a week (for about a month) you’ll see massive improvements in your double under game. That being said: grab rope and get practicing! Having a quality rope also helps.