The ins and outs of double-unders by Coach Kaylyn

Coach Kaylyn breaks down the infamous double under on your blog: What Should Crossfitters Call Me.  Read it all before tomorrow;)

What Should Crossfitters Call Me breaks down the ins and outs of double-unders. 

1. The Rope
When measuring your rope, stand on it with both feet and measure up to underneath your arms. You can adjust the length based on what you feel comfortable with from there. In terms of cable weight, a heavier cable is great when you are beginning or drilling your double-unders, but can slow you down and make you tired, burning unnecessary energy due to the extra weight. People with even somewhat proficient to proficient double-unders should use mid-light cable and those with proficient to excellent double-unders should use a fairly light cable during workouts.

2. Handle Grip
The grip on your handles is surprisingly an important part of the movement and should be minimal. If you hold a death grip on the handles, it will simply cause you to swing using your entire arm, which will tire you out for sure. Grip using your fingers and a small part of your hand and only grip hard enough to allow the rope to stay in your hands while you swing. Make sure you relax your hands, if you are tense and gripping hard, you will begin to rotate your handles with your upper arms.

“Once you can jump properly, you will be able to connect this motion to the swing.”

3. Swinging The Rope
Relax your grip and swing quickly using your wrists as a rotational point. Think of yourself as a violinist. A professional violinist would not move the bow across the string using their entire arm, as it would not allow them to play the finer or more delicate notes. Same goes for double-unders. The wrist motion is a controlled and delicate action and should be treated as such. Using your entire arm will only tire you out and result in few to no double-unders, as the rope will not swing properly. The flick of the wrist is a small, but powerful movement that will ensure the success of your double-unders. Many people have difficulty with the idea of swinging from their wrists and become tense, causing them to swing from their arms. Relax. The more you relax, the easier it becomes to swing from your wrist. The easiest way to practice this flick is to hold your handles in one hand and flick your wrist in the same motion as you would if you were doing double-unders.

“The more you relax, the easier it becomes to swing from your wrist.”

4. The Jump:
Double-under jumps are actually slower than your average single jump, because you need to jump higher so that your rope can pass under your feet two times. One of the best ways to understand the timing of a double under jump, is through jumping pullups. By completing 10-20 jumping pullups, you will be able to glean the proper rhythm of double-unders. Another good way, is to do bunny hops, which give you the same air time as a double-under. A key thing to remember while doing your jump, is to keep your body in a straight line. You want your knees to bend slightly on the landing before you spring into the air in a straight line formation. If your legs are flailing around, it will be more difficult to complete the motion. Once you can jump properly, you will be able to connect this motion to the swing.

5. Putting It All Together
Once you have mastered both the swing and the jump, you can begin to connect the two together. One cool tool that you can create at home is a split rope. Make this by cutting an old jump rope in half and cutting each end so the cable only goes down to around your upper/mid-thigh when you hold the handles up under your arms. make sure your cable weight is similar to that of your current jump-rope and the rope is long enough for the weight to be significant so you can really feel the motion of the double-unders. This can be a good tool to allow you to do double-unders without the unfortunate side-effect of tripping. Make sure, however, that you are only using this tool as a supplement and that you practice double-unders with a real rope as well, as it can be easy to become dependent on training tools. You will trip and you will whip yourself, but consistent practice is the best way to achieve your goal.

“You will trip and you will whip yourself, but consistent practice is the best way to achieve your goal.”

Most Common Errors
1. The Pike: Folding your body in the air wastes a serious amount of energy. Keep your body straight up and down throughout the motion and your core tight.

2. Donkey Kick: Kicking your feet up as though you were jumping for a cheesy photo will only throw off your rhythm and make it more difficult to string your double-unders together, as the rope can get caught on your feet.

3. Moving Your Head: This is actually a problem, believe it or not. Your head weighs approximately 10 pounds give or take a few. Imagine having to control a bowling ball while you pass a rope twice under your feet. If you are constantly moving your head and looking around while doing your double-unders, you are throwing off your center of gravity, making it more difficult to keep your body in a straight line which is what you want. Pick a point across the room at eye level and focus on it. This will not only help to keep your head in line, but can also help you concentrate.

Check out this video by Chris Spealler for great double-under tricks.