Jumping Rope: From Beginner to Boxer

The Fastest Way to Become a Bad-Ass Rope Skipper

Portable and Effective

Jump rope training can benefit everyone. You can use it for long periods at a low intensity, for high-intensity bursts, or anything in-between. It's also one of the most portable pieces of gym equipment in existence. It can be done just about anywhere.

The problem with traditional rope skipping is it becomes boring and monotonous very quickly. There's not much excitement in using both feet to repeatedly hop in place. But have you ever watched a skilled boxer train? Their dance with the rope looks anything but boring (or easy). Getting to the point where you can swing the rope and move your feet like a boxer will yield great health and performance benefits.

Here's a progression of drills you can use to quickly master skipping rope. Just follow the steps.

1 – The Boxer Skip

When a boxer jumps rope, one of his objectives is to mimic the footwork used during a fight. Instead of hopping on both feet with an even amount of his weight distributed between both legs (as in a traditional skip), he shifts his weight from leg to leg with each jump.

Boxer Style vs. Traditional Skip

With the boxer style, the feet are always slightly offset, with one leg absorbing slightly more landing force than the other. This provides the ability to move in any direction at any time. It's also a much more efficient footwork pattern.

Skipping in this manner is a hedge against shin splints because it produces less impact. It also allows you to conserve energy and skip rope longer. When experimenting with the boxer skip, imagine lifting your feet off the ground to create a jump instead of pushing them off the ground.

2 – Side Swings

Even if you're an absolute beginner and can't jump over the rope once, side swings are a great way to learn. They teach you how to coordinate rope and foot speed without the need to even jump over the rope. As you advance, you can also use side swings as transitions between different types of swings and footwork.

Side Swing Progressions

  1. Full Side Swings (Standstill Position): Hold one handle in each hand. Keeping your hands fairly close together, begin making a sideways figure-8 pattern in front of you. The rope will start to track behind you and loop around to the front on your right side, and then continues in the same pattern on the left side. Keep the rope going by continuing this figure-8 motion.
  2. Single-Arm Full Side Swings (Standstill Position): Side swings can also be done using only one hand. The only difference is that you'll need to hold both handles in the same hand. Practice moving the rope with both the right and left arm.
  3. Tighten Up Your Side Swings: As you become familiar with how the rope flows, work to tighten up the side swings. It's okay to have a lot of arm movement while you learn, but the goal is to be able to make the rope move while keeping your hands more centralized in front of your body.
  4. Learn When To Jump In: In order to jump in from a side swing and start skipping, you'll need to bring both hands to where they normally are for a rope turn. Separate the rope as it's coming around, just before you'd start swinging to the opposite side. Get comfortable with opening the rope up without even trying to jump over it. Just drag it into your feet and get used to the timing.
  5. Jump In: Once you're comfortable with how the rope comes through, you can try to jump in. Jump the rope once, but try to keep the rope going with side swings right after your jump.
  6. Full Side Swings With Moving Feet: It starts to get trickier when you progress to moving your feet as you generate side swings. First, practice side swinging while moving your feet without even trying to jump in. Once you're comfortable, jump in every so often.
  7. Single-Out Side Swings: Rather than taking the rope to one side and then the other (as in a full side swing), take the rope to one side and then jump through. You can alternate your single-out swings from right to left, or you can do them to just one side.

3 – Crosses

Being able to criss-cross the jump rope is impressive, but difficult to learn. Crosses are especially challenging to pick up if you attack them without first mastering other skipping basics. These progressions will teach you to cross the rope in no time.

Cross Progressions

  1. Cross the Rope Without a Jump: Start with the rope behind you and twirl it over your head as if you were going to start jumping. As the rope passes your head and starts to come down in front of you, cross your arms. Don't even try to jump over it at this point. Just drag the rope into your toes. Step over it and repeat until you're used to where your arms need to be positioned. When crossing, the goal is to completely displace your hands: Your left hand needs to end up where the right hand normally is, and vice versa.
  2. Cross the Rope With a Jump: Instead of dragging the rope into your toes, jump over it as it comes through. Only jump once and don't worry about what the rope does after you jump it. Reset and repeat this drill until you're familiar with how jumping over a crossed rope feels.
  3. Cross and Uncross the Rope: You'll take two jumps for this drill. You'll jump over the crossed rope, and then you'll jump over it as it's returning to an uncrossed position. Uncross the rope at exactly the same point as you crossed the rope (as it's coming down in front of you, immediately before your second jump). Stop the rope once it's uncrossed. Reset and repeat the drill.
  4. Stringing Together Crosses: As long as you're able to keep a good rhythm with the first and second jump (as well as the corresponding cross and uncross of the rope), you'll be good to go. Keep the rope and your feet going at a consistent pace to maintain this rhythm. Remember that you'll be crossing and uncrossing in alternating fashion each time your feet strike the ground.

4 – Double-Unders and Double-Under Crosses

A double-under is a skip in which the rope turns two times on a single jump. A double-under cross is a skip in which the rope crosses and uncrosses on a single jump. Both of these variations are more about rope speed than about jump height.

Double Unders and Crosses

To learn to double-under, pick a number of skips to do attempting one. Let's say 5. Begin turning the rope. Jump slightly higher on the fifth jump as you turn the wrists twice instead of once. Try to get the rope to pass under your feet twice before landing on the ground. Get familiar with this before you attempt to string double-unders together.

Double-under crosses look much tougher than a regular double-under, but they actually aren't that difficult if you've mastered crossing the jump rope. Instead of the wrists producing the double rope turn as in a regular double-under, your arms will control the rope to complete a double-under cross. Learn these the same way you learned the double-unders – on your last skip, jump slightly higher, cross, then immediately uncross the rope before landing again.

Drew Murphy is a gym owner and personal trainer located in Tiffin, Iowa. Out of his facility, he trains clients using a wide range of strength and conditioning methods.  Follow Drew Murphy on Instagram