Double-unders are the bane of many an athletes’ lives until they get it. You have to practice, fail; practice, fail; and then boom! It just clicks. Prepare to whip yourself a hundred times, but let this self-punishment push you harder to get it right rather than give up.
The first stage in how to do a double-under is to practice getting the feeling of getting just one – don’t feel the need to rush straight into joint double-unders. It’s a very different thing to get one double under than to be able to join them together, so work first on getting that one double-under.
Tips to remember before you begin practicing double-unders
✓ Choose your rope. This one is important: get yourself a rope that will be yours to practice with time and time again. Stick with your rope.
✓ Get the length right. Just the length of the rope will make a huge difference to how hard you have to work for the double-under. Step on your rope and make sure the handles come to about nipple height with the rope held straight – slightly longer is better than slightly shorter.
✓ Choose your focus point. Every time you practice, find a focus point. Go for just above eye level and find anything to focus on, whether that be an object on a shelf or something on the wall. Having a focus point helps your mind engage and remember your timing with the rope; when the rope is just about to pass your eyes, you need to put a little more energy into the wrist flick to get that faster movement in the rope to begin the next double-under.
Now you’re set up, begin your practice. I find it helps to have a number of skips in your head that you are going to do before attempting the double-under. For example, I will usually count 3 or 5 skips and then attempt a double-under. I’d recommend starting with 5 to get a rhythm, but once you have that go to 3 to save energy and to have a smaller amount of time to think before going for it. Sometimes if you’re whipping yourself a lot you can lose confidence, so you don’t want to think too much – just go for it until you get it!
When it comes to technique, keep in mind that the double-under jump is not quicker than the single skip, its slower, so rather than feeling like everything needs to speed up, remember you are essentially slowing everything down apart from your wrists. Relax, and practice some longer, higher jumps when skipping to get the feel of the new way of jumping. Aim to keep a straight jump, try not to donkey kick or pike, just simply jump higher and with more power, so that your feet are off the ground for a lot longer than they would be in a normal single skip jump.
Now start thinking about the hands moving quicker. Keep your arms slightly forward and focus on keeping the arms quite still. The movement of the rope should come mainly from the wrist, as movement coming from the arms wastes energy.
Start Linking the Double-unders
Once you have the double-under, and you’ve worked out your method, then start trying to link them together. I found it worked well to start by doing a double-under, single skip, double-under, single skip routine before linking two double-unders in a row.
Practicing can get quite tiring when you’re new to double-unders. Don’t get stressed out. If it keeps going wrong, take some time out, have a drink, do something else for a few minutes, reset your mind and start again.
A Final Tip
Don’t think too much about your legs to begin with. If you do find you’re pulling them up a lot, or flicking them back but still managing a double-under, don’t worry! Work on getting those double-unders consistently, then once you really feel you’ve got it, you can concentrate on altering that leg position to reduce the amount of energy wastage and to get your double-under reps up without exhausting yourself.
Good luck, and remember: practice, practice, practice!