Insights and Training Tips from Tactical Arts


The Art of Double Unders

The Art of Double Unders


How to Do Double Unders for your CrossFit WOD

A challenging CrossFit skill that probably takes more patience than any other is the double under.  The double under is a jumperope technique wherein the rope passes twice under the feet during one jump.  This is one of the few skills that you practice wherein you get whipped when you do it wrong.  It’s great negative reinforcement, but it can make the most soft-spoken, gentle person curse like street thug.   It can be frustrating.  I hope this guide below will minimize your frustration when learning to do double unders.  

Sizing the Rope for You

You need to have your own rope measured to fit you.  To measure your rope, stand in the middle of the cable with both feet together.  The tip of the handles should touch inside your armpit.  You can make a longer rope work, but if it is fitted to you, your technique will be more efficient.  A speed jumprope with a steel cable is much better than a leather, poly or plastic jumprope.

measure2    measure1

Getting Started

First you will practice the fundamentals of jumping and spinning the rope.  Then you will put it together and work on a progression until you can link multiple double unders together.

Practice the Jump

1. Jump in place like you are jumping on a single under, then add a higher jump.  Don’t change your body position.  Keep your body upright and tighten your abdominal muscles.

2. Jump higher on single - do the same as above, but do it while doing single unders.


Practice the Rope Spin

1.  Hold both handles of a jumprope in your right hand and practice spinning the rope with only your wrists.  Spin the rope with tension and speed.  Spin it first at the speed of the single under and then spin it really fast.  Listen to the difference in sound.

2.  Do the same as above in your left hand.

3.  Hold 2 jumpropes, one in the right hand and one in the left.   Spin the ropes in sync.  Spin them at your single under speed and also spin them faster.


Putting it Together

Again, while holding 2 jumpropes, spin the ropes, but this time practice jumping while spinning them.  Combine your short jumps with the single under speed, then combine your high jumps with the after speed. This will help you coordinate jumping and spinning the rope together.

After you feel comfortable with the movements above you will start working on the timing and movement in the progression below.  Focus on each part until you are comfortable then move to the next step.


Double Under Progression:

1. Practice until you can do consistent single unders with an efficient jump and spin.  

2. Practice getting just one double under.  Pay attention to the sound of the rope. Try to land softly.  

3. Practice alternating single unders and double unders without stopping or tripping on the rope.  

4. Learn to string multiple double unders together.  Keep practicing and pay attention to the key points below.  

jump1    jump-timing

Key Points:

  • Keep hands your hands in close - As your hands go wider, the rope is essentially shorter.  Keep track of where your hands are.  You may be surprised to see they often drift wider and wider or even back.   
  • Your hands should be just a little to the front, not by your sides or behind you. That can also make you trip on the rope.  
  • Spin the rope with your wrists not your shoulders.  Keep your shoulders relaxed.  The movement should be small, efficient and fast.  Most people just don’t spin the rope fast enough when they are first learning.  When the rope travels faster, you don’t need to jump as high.  
  • For an efficient jump, bounce straight up and down.  Avoid piking your body, leaning forward or kicking backwards.  It is a bad posture, and it will wear you out faster.  You may start with a really high jump, but eventually you will make it shorter and more economical.
  • Time your jump so that you leave just as the rope hits the floor.
  • Gaze at something still across the room in front of you.  It will help you keep balance.  Keep your mind calm.  Thinking too much will only make it harder.  


Final Notes

One of the most important things in improving your double unders (and any skill) is to practice them frequently.  I find that the skill can be perishable.  If you don’t stay fresh in your double under practice, your skill may diminish a bit.  I recommend you practice double unders as a part of your warmup for each training session.  Make it a goal to do 10, 20 or 30 double unders in the warmup.  Try to string together as many as you can.  

When you are still learning double unders in our CrossFit class, we count bona fide attempts at double unders.  You will still get a good workout and the desire to finish the WOD  may just help you string together more than you ever have before.

If you want some help learning double unders and taking your overall fitness to a new level, consider joining our Tactical Arts Academy Athlete Program.  Not only can we can help you in class with the progressions above and other options that may be best for you, but we can get you in great shape. Click the button below to learn more.


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