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A Guide to Improving Your Double-Unders

By Molly Metz

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May 6, 2015




Double-unders: You either love ‘em or hate ‘em.

Perhaps some days you’ve “got them”, and other days you don’t. You may consider them a break between other movements during a WOD, or just an annoyance that you have to fight through so you can get back to the bar.

You’re tired of scaling to singles every time the word “double-unders” is written on the whiteboard—but you just don’t know how to break that barrier. You jump higher. Try to focus on timing it just right. Flick your wrists harder. But no matter what, the rope inevitably whips the back of your legs or tips of your toes. What gives?!

Regardless of your relationship with double-unders, it is a skill—just like anything else—that can be attained and enhanced with practice and proper technique.

Molly Metz (world champion jump roper, CrossFit coach, owner of CrossFit Mad Hops and JumpNRope, a jump rope training facility and company in Louisville, CO) explains all you need to know!

Metz, 38, has been jumping rope since she was 7 and has traveled to over 30 countries to compete. She coaches competitive jump rope for hundreds of kids out of her gym in Colorado, and continues to be part of a jump rope team herself. She discovered CrossFit two years ago when she and her team were invited to the South West Regionals as a half-time performance squad. Their act went over so well that they were then invited out to entertain hundreds at the 2012 CrossFit Games, and the rest is history. Metz fell in love with the CrossFit community and began to offer jump rope seminars to affiliates around the nation. She opened up her own affiliate about six months ago, housed within her new jump rope facility, where she runs jump rope classes, team practices and manufactures her own line of jump-ropes (jumpnrope.com).

Before you get started jumping, Metz says that the key to perfecting the double-under starts with the set-up position.

The JumpNRope Double Under Set-Up

Shoulders & Chest
-Relaxed and loose
-Hollow position

Hands
-Firm grip with thumb and pointer finger
-Drive the thumb down to initiate movement
-Keep your hands in the 3pm-6pm-3pm clock zone (where 12 o’clock is directly above your head, and 3 pm is in front of you)

 Rope
-Use a rope weight that feels comfortable
-10-12” overhead
-Adjustable size ropes are preferable

Feet
-2-4” bound off the floor
-Jump on the balls of your feet
-Toes hang towards the ground on the bound, long hanging legs

Head
-Gaze fixed to the horizon
-Neck relaxed

Elbows
-Behind the plane of the body
-90-100 degree bend

Wrists
-Quick ‘flick-flick’
-‘Shake’ your wrists out

Hips
-In line with toes
-Abdominals engaged
-Glutes slightly squeezed

Knees
-Bent slightly in athletic position
-Absorb the bound upon landing

Now that we have the set-up in place, the next question is: when do you jump? When the rope is over your head? Behind your head? In front of your eyes?
MM:Think of it as a clock. 12 o’clock is above your head. 3 o’clock is in front of your eyes. You want to jump for the double when the rope is at 3 o’clock.

How do you scale double-unders in a WOD?
MM: I am not a big fan of the 3:1 ratio. You know, the 150 singles for every 50 doubles style of scaling. This is primarily because people end up focusing more on jumping faster to get through them or it hinders them from progressing to the double as they get comfortable with just doing singles. Instead, if the WOD has 50 double-unders prescribed, I’ll have them do 50 singles—and make sure their set-up and bound looks just as if they were to be doing double-unders. Controlled, a nice 2-4 inch bound on the jump, with a good hollow body position.

Say I am a CrossFitter who hates double-unders. I just can’t get them—OR can’t get them efficiently. What do you do to help an athlete progress to the next level?
MM: I take the rope out of their hands, and first have them visualize it—picture themselves doing double-unders. We talk through it, and walk through their body position. Shoulders are relaxed, core and hollow body position engaged, their arms hang nice and loose by their sides, and they jump about three inches off the ground. I may have them try bounding without the rope, squeeze their toes, pretend as if they are floating, pushing their hands down.

What is the best rope to use?
MM: For beginners, a heavier rope is best—I love using a beaded rope and trainer rope with a little bit of a thicker rope. Speed ropes are not really appropriate unless you can hit 30-35 double-unders consecutively. You often hear most CrossFitters say they need a speed rope—but what they really need is a speed handle. I am excited to be launching a new rope I call the ‘Hybrid’—it’s got speed handles, but a thicker trainer rope that is a bit easier to control.

What size rope should I use?
MM: The best kind of rope is adjustable. In general, the tips of the handles should be under your armpits, and you want about 10-12 inches of space over your head with the rope when you jump. The ideal jump is when your hands are close to your body with your elbows by your sides. But there will be some days when your arms are tired, or some WODs that tax you more than others, and you may want to adjust your rope to be a bit longer.

Photo credit: ©2015 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission from CrossFit Inc

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