Respect the Rope

It is no secret that across the board CrossFit programming demands the execution of highly technical movements with lots of moving parts. Most of us will spend years chasing the perfect split jerk or pulling underneath a heavy clean. Gymnastic skills like muscle ups and handstand walks will elude many CrossFit aficionados forever. Sometimes even a 500-meter row can be a headache. Double-unders, on the other hand, are something nobody needs to practice, right? Let’s string together 10 or 15 and we should be ready to tackle the Triple 3 (3,000 meter row, 300 double-unders, 3 mile run).

Well, not quite.

The jump rope element is just as essential in our pursuit of overall health and wellness as the barbell, and it’s time we start treating it with the same respect.

CrossFit athletes at Boxes everywhere love to break down their Olympic lifts to the atomic level. When we miss a lift, we ask ourselves a laundry list of questions: “Was I up on my toes?” “Did I miss full hip extension?” “ Was I too slow getting under the bar?” We end up analyzing countless faults from a single movement, all with the intention of improving our technique. When all of our various barbell blemishes are polished up, what happens? Our lifting improves. Why is it that jump rope should be any different? The answer is a simple one: it shouldn’t. Now that we’ve fixed our snatch technique, we should dedicate some serious time to the analysis of our jumping mechanics.

No matter how much we try to avoid it, losing our form is inevitable. The first four or five sets of “Flight Simulator,” the unbroken double-under ladder/reverse ladder, might seem okay, but just as is the case with our Oly lifts, our double-under technique starts to breakdown with fatigue.  The hands that started out “glued” to our hips will flare out wide, shortening the available rope we have to jump with. We start piking our hips and kicking our feet forward into the path of the moving cable. We can even whip the rope too fast, which allows the cable to catch our feet before they have time to get back off the ground. Jumping issues like these are just as common as ripped hands on “Murph” day. The cues from our Coaches begin to sound reminiscent of those from our lifting class. It is vital that we address these faults, one by one, just as we pick apart other aspects of our training.

So when exactly do we have time to perfect our jumping skills? As athletes, we can put in the work on our off days, or try to squeeze it into our warm-up routine. If we are really ambitious, we can do some extra credit after our weekly workouts.

Affiliate owners, however, can play a very important role in the development of this valuable skill. They can be the force of change for an entire community of CrossFit athletes by programming specific sections of double-under work each week. They can mandate that the double-under should not be scaled to singles. It is exactly that type of structured time that allows us to focus on our faults and improve our craft.

Olympic lifting programs hammer us with all the snatching, cleaning and jerking we can handle each week. The results, more often than not, are much more sound lifting mechanics. It’s time we apply the same principles to mastering the art of the jump rope. Let’s remove the synonymy between “double-unders” and “Achilles’ heel.” Let’s respect the rope.


Dylan Rodgers

Marketing Director for RPM Fitness

Contributing Author