The Zen of the Double Under
By: Doza Hawes

When I started Crossfit in 2014, I had never jumped rope in my life. Somehow I just missed that whole part of childhood… fast forward and now I can string 50 unbroken double unders in a workout. It’s a work in progress that I’m always tweaking and trying to improve. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way that I would love to share. Maybe they can help you out.

In Crossfit, 9 times out of 10 we are trying to lift heavier, try harder, apply more force, dig deeper… but some moves require the opposite of that. The double under is about finesse. Economy of motion. Balance. Rhythm.

When learning the double under, it takes a switch in mental approach. You have to get out of the mindset of force, of maximum exertion. Instead, focus on coordination, relaxation, and minimizing the effort. Remember, you are only moving an object that weighs a few ounces at most.

When I see people learning double unders, I usually see them simply:

Trying.
Too.
Hard.

It is counter intuitive!

Then comes the frustration, followed by anger, which ends in exhaustion, and maybe throwing the rope on the ground in disgust. I’ve seen it happen countless times.There’s that mindset again.

Here are the main problems that I have observed:

Tuck jumps.
Lifting the knees too high. You think you need all this time airborn to move the rope under your body. You don’t.
Learn to jump high while only bending the knees slightly.

Butt kickers.
Pulling the feet up behind you and basically kicking your own ass. Again, overcompensating because you think you need all this air time.

Pikes.
Locking out the knees at the top of the jump and pushing the feet out in front of you. You can successfully string double unders this way but you will be working way harder than needed. Since the knees are locked, you have to jump higher to compensate for that lost distance between your feet and the floor.

Arm spinners.
Rotating the rope with the entire arm all the way up to the shoulder. Not efficient. Starts to burn really quick. Add other shoulder exercises to the WOD and you’re toast! Focus on the wrists.

Rhythm out of sync
This usually happens when people try to start with a few singles and then throw in a double. They speed up the jump, when really they need a higher, slower jump. Think about it, you need to be airborn for 2 rotations, so more time airborn = SLOWER jumps.

There are tons of videos and tutorials on proper form that are excellent, so I’m not going to rehash that here.

Get rid of the anger. Get rid of the frustration. Change your mindset. Change your internal dialogue. Focus on form, breathing, finesse. Be strong, but also fluid. If the negative emotions start to sneak back in, that’s ok. Just breathe and let them pass by and refocus on the form. This move takes a lot of concentration and you can’t afford to waste any mental energy on negativity.

Spend some time practicing. Double unders will start come to you if you put in the work— regularly. Small micro adjustments and tweaks will all add up over time and it will start to click. It might even become fun. Now, get a rope and find your zen!

 

-Coach Doza