Learning to Jump Rope? - 12 Steps to Skipping Stardom

by Matt Hopkins

Rope jumping is a simple, easy-to-learn activity that is great for fitness and can be done just about anywhere. I've put together this simple tutorial for learning the basic jump and the jog step, the two most foundational jump rope movements. Once you've mastered the basics, see our  tutorials on beginner and intermediate tricks.

Before you start …

  1. Choose the right jump rope. For beginners, we recommend a simple beaded jump rope or licorice jump rope. These ropes are inexpensive, durable and relatively slow (vs a speed rope, which is very fast and more suited for advanced jumpers).

  2. Size your rope. Because speed is not the objective, a longer rope is ideal for beginners. A longer rope slows things down and allows for less than perfect timing. To size your rope, stand the jump rope in the middle of the cord. The BOTTOM of the jump rope handles should come up to your armpit.




  3. Pick the right surface: Jump rope should be a low impact activity. Jump on a mat if outside or on a forgiving indoor surface. Hardwood floors are best as they give you a little extra bounce and are easier on the knees. If possible avoid concrete (unforgiving) and carpet (will make your rope bounce and you will have to jump higher to clear it).

Learn the basic jump (20 minutes)

Here are a few helpful strategies for starting out. The single bounce or “basic jump” is the absolute foundation of jumping rope. Become an expert at the single bounce and learning more difficult skills is much easier. I can’t stress this enough!

  1. Start with your hands in the "ready" position. Grip the handles loosely with your fingers, not your palms. You want to avoid giving your handles a "death grip." A loose grip will allow for a natural and more efficient turn of the jump rope and allow for greater speed. Hold the jump rope in front of you with your hands together and your elbows in close to you body.

  2. Practice a toe catch. Place the rope behind you and turn the jump rope over your head. Catch the jump rope under your toes and lift up your heels and let it out from underneath your feet. Repeat this movements until you become comfortable spinning the rope and catching it under you feet. The key to learning any physical skill is repetition: teaching your muscles a motion and creating a memory of how to do it. In jump rope, practicing correct movements is the key to learning.

  3. Pretend jump. Jumping rope is all about timing the turn of the rope with your jump. Try taking an imaginary jump rope and pretending to turn it over your head and jump rope with it. Yes, you’ll look ridiculous, but this is a great way to practice your jump and proper form. Jump on the balls of your feet with your body fairly erect. Your heels should not touch the ground, and your elbows should be near your sides with your wrists doing the work, not your arms. Continue for several minutes. Once you feel comfortable with the motion, continue to the next step.
  4. Practice timing. Another great way to practice correct timing is to place both handles of the rope in one hand and turn the rope at your side and jump. Try to coordinate both movements and, if possible, have somebody watch you to make sure the timing is correct.
  5. Try the real thing. Now it’s time to try with a real jump rope. Be patient with yourself and go slow. Challenge yourself to do one jump. Then two jumps. Then three, etc. Always try to improve upon your personal record. Improvement will come quickly with persistent practice. Don't give up!

Common Mistakes

  • Too much arm, not enough wrist: Don’t swing your arms to spin the rope. Instead, use your wrists. Your hands should be held near the front of your hip bones with your wrist doing a majority of the work. The elbows do a small pumping motion in combination with the work of the wrists. The only exception to this us your very first turn of the rope will require some arm movement. You do not want your arms to come out away from your body. Besides looking funny, it makes the rope too short and slows the rope down.
  • Jumping hunched over: You want to jump straight up and down with your butt and hamstrings absorbing the shock. Good form includes making a good athletic arch in your lower back with shoulders back. The biggest mistake most people make is bending forward and hunching their shoulders. The only time this is OK is in competitive speed jumping (doing 6-7 jumps a second) where the competitor needs to bend forward to make the path the rope travels smaller. See a speed jumper in action.
  • Jumping too high and/or kicking heels up: Jump only a few inches off the ground. The cord or cable is no more than 5mm in diameter, so you don’t have to take big leaps. Jump rope should be a very low impact activity.
  • The double bounce: Double bounces (where you hope twice between each spin of the rope) can become a bad habit and hard to break. Increase the speed of the rope and force yourself to do a single bounce. Pause between jumps and do not allow for two jumps between turns.

BAD Form

This video is an example of poor form. (It's a longer video, so just sample segments to get an idea.)

GOOD Form

Our good friend Madeline Praye (in this video below) is a national jump rope champion and has amazing form.


The Jog Step

After learning the single bounce jump, the jog step is your next challenge. The jog step is one turn of the jump rope for every step taken. A common mistake is to take a step with both feet with one turn of the rope. Instead, lift your foot up (don't kick back or the rope will get caught on your foot), and turn the rope under. You can start very slowly and increase speed as skill increases. Remember to lift your knees and keep your feet from coming off the ground very high.  

About the Author

matt-hopkins.jpgMatt Hopkins is a former competitive speed jumper and jump rope coach. Matt has won numerous national championships in speed jumping, and his athletes have won several national speed and freestyle titles and have broken world and national speed records. He also taught middle and elementary school PE in Leavenworth WA for 23 years.

Recent Posts