When done correctly, the jump rope can easily be one of the most crucial tools we have to develop cardiovascular respiratory endurance. The monostructural movement is diverse in the sense that there are many ways we can go about jumping rope. Ever watch JumpNRope on youtube? Do it, you won't be disappointed. We can perform single unders (where the rope passes once under your feet each time you jump), double unders (twice under the feet per jump), triple unders (three times under the feet per jump), crossovers, single leg jumps... we can even use the jump rope to develop running technique.
How do I pick the right size rope? Holding both handles in each hand, step on the rope. Your hands should evenly come up to just about your armpits. This is a good place to start and make minor adjustments as needed as you start to practice.
Start with the basics - single unders. Let's break down the movement, both the good and the bad. As we dissect the movement, try to pin point which area gives you the most trouble. Practice what you struggle with the most, and as you progress and get better, move on to another part of the movement. In grade school, they didn't teach you American history in one day, it took 9 months of the year for the teacher to present the material. Hopefully the jump rope doesn't take you 9 months to learn. The point is - break it down into small, manageable pieces to make it easier to master in the end.
Bad - Donkey kicks (feet coming behind the body), Pike kicks (feet coming in front of the body). Don't do more work than you have to.
Good - Stay on the balls of your feet and keep them under the center of your body. The feet only have to come off the ground just a bit in order for the rope to pass under.
Practice - Start without a rope in your hands by your side. Do 30 jumps on the balls of your feet coming off the ground only enough for a thin rope to pass under. Then do 30 jumps with your arms up as if you were to have a rope in your hands and mimic the motion. Then add the rope and practice!
Bad - Having your arms too far away from the body will shorten the rope and will also fatigue your shoulders very fast.
Good - Keep the elbows close to the body.
Practice - Place a band around the upper arms to help keep the elbows close to the body. Practice your single unders for 3 minutes with the band on your arms. OR place something under your armpit (a piece of paper, a lacrosse ball, an expo marker). As you jump rope, don't let it drop!
Bad - When your arms gravitate behind your body, it shortens the rope just like having the arms out away from the body. Put the two bad habits together and you now have a rope that is exponentially shorter than it should be.
Good - Keeping the hands in front of the body allows the rope to stay the length is was meant to be, allowing you to keep a constant rhythm throughout.
Practice - Video tape yourself from a profile view. You can easily see where your hand positioning is and if your hands are behind the body or not.
Tip: Stay relaxed throughout the entire body. Don't let your arms and legs stiffen up as this will only lead to muscle fatigue much quicker than normal.
Go practice and check back in several weeks for the next step: double unders!