How To Teach Jump Rope to Kids
Oct 02, 2023Matt Hopkins
Plus, it allows for plenty of creativity. Solo or social, jumping rope will help your child express themselves and burn off energy. There are countless exciting jump rope games to share with friends and family.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that childhood obesity affected over 14.7 million children from 2017 to 2020. Risks of obesity include high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and joint issues.
When you teach a child to jump rope, you're not just spending quality time bonding over a shared hobby. You’re building the foundation for a lifetime of physical wellness.
Before jumping into the fun part (pun intended), ensure you're teaching the right skills with proper knowledge.
Jumping rope is simple and safe enough to introduce to kids as young as three. Before age five, they'll mostly be getting familiar with the rope and motions. Once they reach ages 5 and 6, they'll likely be able to start swinging the rope overhead and landing multiple jumps in a row.
Make sure the ropes you're using are the correct jump rope size for the kiddos. Since younger kids are shorter, they're going to need shorter ropes. Here's a chart to help determine the length of the rope based on your kids' heights.
Tip: Determine the correct measurement by having the jumper stand on top of the rope and pull the handles taut to their sides. If the handles reach the armpit, this is a great beginner's length.
|Height of Child
|Length of Rope
|Under 4 feet
|~ 6 feet
|4’ - 4’9”
|~ 7 feet
|4’10” - 5’3”
|~ 8 feet
|5’4” - 5’11”
|~ 9 feet
|6 - 6’6”
|~ 10 feet
|6’ 7” +
|~ 11 feet
If you only have access to a long jump rope, you can adjust the length by tying a few knots. In fact, instead of buying a new jump rope for your fast-growing kid every year, it's a wise investment to buy a longer rope and shorten it with knots until they grow into its size. We don't recommend extending the rope as adding length is difficult and may damage it.
You can help your child build a custom jump rope starting at 7 feet. Letting them choose up to six of their favorite colors is sure to get them excited about the sport. Do they love fire trucks? Pick red and black beads. Maybe they’re a princess at heart. Try pink, yellow, and blue beads.
Finding a cushioned surface to jump on minimizes the risk of injury. We recommend a rubbery floor like a gym or a running track. Try a portable indoor/outdoor jumping pad to practice wherever your children prefer.
Once your child grasps the basics of jump rope movement, instruct your child on good jump roping form. Tell them not to jump too high. Aim for just an inch off the ground. Also, try to get them to jump on the backs of the balls of their feet. You can explain this to them by telling them to jump like they’re trying to stand on their tippy toes.
Make sure your child turns around in a full circle before they start jumping. This ensures they'll always check their space before starting, minimizing any risk of collision with another person. It's also important to let them know they should only be swinging the rope if they're actively jumping or playing a game. No using the rope like a whip or lasso!
Don't just toss the first-time jumper a rope and say, “Have fun!” Here are some techniques to ease your kids into jumping rope.
To begin working on your children’s jumping coordination, draw a line on the ground with chalk or lay down your jump rope. Have them practice jumping over it, back and forth. After that, have them try hopping over it with one foot. Get creative with more complex steps until they are comfortable with precise jumps.
This method of introducing kids to jumping is handy for young children ages 4 - 8. They may struggle to understand the most basic jumping rhythm, so using a rigid hula hoop helps them grasp the mechanics of the movement. Have them hold the hoop with two hands, step into it, and bring it around their body so they can jump over it. After they get the hang of that, get them moving with skip steps, one foot at a time, over the hoop.
Once they've graduated from the hula hoop, it's time to move on to the rope. Have your child hold the rope out in front of them and step over it. From there, tell them to hold their arms behind them like it's a superhero cape flowing in the wind. Have them bring their arms up until the rope passes over them and hits the floor. Don't let them jump just yet. This motion helps them get the hang of moving their arms in sync with locked elbows.
Then, when they’ve practiced the superhero cape a few times, tell them to jump when they hear the “click” of the rope on the floor. They shouldn’t swing the rope in a full rotation until they are consistently jumping over the rope successfully.
Just like the words of jump rope nursery rhymes, the joy of playing jump rope games will stick in your child’s memory forever. Try some of these games to get started. Feel free to invent your own or put a twist on an old favorite.
It’s just like the classic playground game, but with the added challenge of jump ropes. It makes for great skip-jumping practice.
Start by outlining the perimeters of the shark-infested water. A field or a backyard works perfectly. Line the minnows up on one side. The goal is to cross to the opposite perimeter without being tagged by a shark. If a minnow is tagged, now they’re on the shark’s team. Last minnow standing, er–swimming, err–jumping, wins!
Double dutch is a type of jump rope that takes a village. Using two extra-long ropes, such as the Competition Cloth Double Dutch Rope, two rope swingers rotate the ropes in opposite directions. One or two jumpers pop in the middle whenever they feel ready. More jumpers can enter, too, depending on how big your family is and how proficient they are at jumping.
When you all find your jumping rhythm, try one of these fun double dutch songs:
Cinderella dressed in yella,
Went upstairs to kiss her fella.
By mistake, she kissed a snake,
How many doctors will it take?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc.*
*Keep going until the jumper(s) miss a jump.
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 50 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence
They jumped so high, high, high
They reached the sky, sky, sky
They never came back, back, back
Till the 4th of July, ly, ly!
July can’t walk, walk, walk
July can’t talk, talk, talk
July can’t eat, eat, eat
With a knife and fork, fork, fork.
There are endless jump rope song ideas to explore online. Change the difficulty by increasing the rope speed with each new verse. If you're a creative bunch, try adding new words to a familiar tune like "Happy Birthday" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
Want more rhyme ideas? See our list of Jump Rope Songs.
This one is simple: How low can you go? Use the rope as a limbo bar. If the limbo-er misses, they have a chance to redeem themselves by landing ten jumps in a row. The person who can limbo the lowest is the winner.
Form a circle with your players. It's helpful to draw one in chalk on the ground, so people stay in place. The person playing the helicopter stands in the middle holding the rope. Using one rope handle, they swing it around the circle on the ground, so the other players have to jump over it. If it hits a jumper's feet, they become the new helicopter.
Just be careful that the helicopter kids don’t get too excited and lift the rope high off the ground. We don’t want any shins whacked!
Want more game ideas? See our list of Jump Rope Games.
Children can start learning jump rope motions as young as age 3, gradually progressing to swinging and skipping by ages 5-6 as they develop the necessary coordination and motor skills. Introducing simple techniques, like jumping over lines or using a hula hoop, is an excellent way to get them started.
Have fun! Enjoy this joyous, exuberant physical activity with your kiddos and lay the groundwork to help them stay healthy. You and your children will reap the rewards.
About the Author
Matt 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.
We're all about equipping and encouraging people to take on big challenges, because we know the process of doing hard things helps us grow in character and capacity.