Double unders are skipping rope, but harder. Your body is still going straight up and down, and the rope is just going around and around. But you have a much higher chance of smacking yourself in the ankles or the back of the head, compared to regular skipping, and that’s why it feels so satisfying when you get it right.
Double unders sound simple: For every jump, the rope passes under you twice. And they aren’t physically that hard: You jump a little higher, spin your wrists a little faster. The skill is coordination, and the real mental tricky part is keeping your form steady while your brain is saying ropetoofastjumpnowgofasteraaauuugh!
I can do about three in a row, each more panicked and with worse form than the last. But here’s a video with a nice step-by-step progression that makes learning double unders look easy:
(Why is he in a Crossfit studio? Because Crossfitters do a lot of double unders. What, you think they’d just do regular skipping when there’s a way to make it harder?)
The progression goes like this:
- Practice regular skipping rope (“single unders”) until you can do 200 with good form, no mistakes.
- Punctuate your regular skipping with extra high “power jumps”, still only turning the rope once per jump. Do three singles, then one power jump, and practise until you can repeat the cycle 50 times in a row.
- Then turn the power jumps into double unders. The only change is how fast you turn the rope.
- From there, cut down the singles: Do two singles for every double, then one.
- Do two double unders in a row, then stop. Do three, then stop.
The point of this last step is to “practise perfect”, so your brain gets experience doing double unders correctly. Otherwise, if you’re skipping until you screw up and smack yourself with the rope, your brain gets a lot of practise screwing up and smacking yourself with the rope.
So if you’re ready for a challenge, give double unders a try this week. Or if you’ve mastered those? Triple unders are also a thing.