Stop Whipping Yourself!

Double unders got you all twisted with whip marks all over your body? They are definitely one of those movements that you can’t out-strength your way into mastering. They take time and patience and can be a tedious skill to learn!


They can be incredibly frustrating because you can’t just pick up a rope and will your way to getting them. You also can’t just spend hours at a time practicing until you get them (trust me, I have tried that.) Your best plan of attack is a few minutes, every day.  For most athletes, it will take time and patience.


When I first started CrossFit, it took me quite a while to get double unders. When a workout came up with double unders, I would have to double or triple the number for single unders. I remember the first time the gym did Annie (50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders and Sit Ups). I did all single unders, 450 of them. It took forever.  


After this particular workout, I vowed to get better at double unders, I started by watching youtube videos on tips and tricks. I practiced almost every day after the workout was done for about 5 minutes at a time, sets of 3-6 in a row were very common.  Now, I get advice and help from a coach and receive immediate feedback on improving my technique.


Many years ago, I would practice double unders until I got decent enough to do them in workouts.  I got so used to double unders I could no longer do single unders. I was in a competition with my wife and thought I would crush the single unders and I was wrong. I couldn’t string them together because my muscle memory had become programed for double unders only!  Now I practice all kinds of jump rope movements… including single unders.


It never just magically clicked one day; however, over time I was able to string some double unders together and then finally work to improve my consistency, speed, and efficiency.


I have struggled immensely with double unders. And now I am pretty good at helping other people get theirs…only because I have tried and failed and tried some more.  I understand where people are at and how to get those first amazing successful jumps!.


So, I have some tips and tricks for you. I see a lot of the same mistakes as I Coach athletes on these.


  1. The rope movement comes from the wrist, not the shoulders or arms.

Your shoulders will get too tired too quickly. You also won’t be able to keep the rope pulling through fast enough if you aren’t flicking through your wrists.


  1.  The wrist movement has to be practiced and requires dexterity and endurance.

When you are spinning the rope for a single under it doesn’t take much to get it around.  When you do it for a double under it is going to take speed to make it around. You can practice wrist speed and endurance by trying to link 200 single unders in a row as fast as possible.  Then practice jumping higher with the same rope speed.


  1. We all have a strong hand and a weak hand.

Try a split rope (a jump rope cut in half.) This is a great tool to work on the rope rhythm and timing of the jump without the frustration of missing all the time. You will also be able to see that one hand has it all figured out, the other one doesn’t have a clue. I try to keep my mind on moving my weak hand, and have my strong hand relaxed while spinning the rope.  


  1. Keep your elbows tucked and bent to your sides.

The goal is for the rope to hit the floor each time it passes under your feet. We get excited and our arms come up and then the rope gets shorter and we are more likely to miss because we aren’t jumping high enough. One way to do that is to pick a spot a few feet in front of you on the floor and aim the rope to hit that each time.


  1. Jump through your ankles, not your knees.

Double unders happen super fast. The rope is spinning and you have to be able to jump fast enough to get over it. But you also have to prepare for the next double under, so you also need to be able to rebound fast enough to keep going and string them together. Keep your knees relaxed and jump through your ankles. It’s less energy expenditure and faster jumps.


  1. Stay on your toes and get back off the floor as quickly and get as high as you can.

Again, you have to jump fast and rebound fast for that next rep. Keep on your toes and think about rebounding as high as you can.  I practiced without a rope, building volume by doing 10 rebounding jumps as high as possible.


  1.  Not every double under has to be fast, cadence matters.

Jumping rope has a cadence that is ideal for your ability level.  When you are first starting you have to do them slower and jump higher, as you get more proficient you can jump lower and move the rope faster.  Practice jumping at faster and slower speeds and keep mixing it up so you can teach your body to adapt to your fatigue level.


The first goal is to get a few reps – try to keep your body in an ideal position. The next goal is to string them together. Do 1 double under 10x, then 2 double unders 10x and then 3x and so on until you can do 10 DU 10x without mistakes.  Then, you want to work on making the double unders consistent for bigger sets. Then you can work on making them more efficient, which means faster with less mess ups and whips.


Also, remember that double unders are usually easier when you are fresh. Once you get tired, things often fall apart. To help combat this be sure you are practicing when tired. After you become fatigued, you will notice technique tends to break down.


Try these tips and tricks and see how your double unders go!  If you really want to speed up the process, get professional coaching at Sycamore CrossFit’s Double Under Clinic (THIS WEEKEND and next weekend). If you really want to focus in on nailing down your double unders, but you can’t make it to one (or both) of the clinic dates, talk to Coach Eric about scheduling a skill session! If you can only make it to one day of the clinic, go ahead and register, we will will give you some additional skill homework that covers the other clinic day. Clinic Registration:



Carl Balentyne


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