How to Jump Rope: Top 6 Tips for Getting Started
Feb 28, 2023Jordan Lindstrom
Skipping rope has long been a staple workout and warmup regimen for fitness buffs ranging from beginners to experts.
While walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are among the most popular forms of cardio and warming up, skipping rope has actually been shown to be better at burning calories than just about any other form of exercise.
If you’re new to jumping rope, or just considering dipping your toes back in for the first time since your days on the playground, here are our top five recommendations for quickly getting the hang of jump roping.
One of the most common mistakes new jump ropers make is jumping with a rope that is WAY too long. While it may feel more comfortable to have a long rope, it's actually working against you because the bottom of the rope is dragging or bouncing off the ground, increasing your chances of "missing" and hitting your feet.
Your height is also important because that will determine the length of the rope you should select. Whether using the chart or the armpit method, the real secret to sizing your jump rope is measuring the clearance of the rope as it travels over your head.
Once you have a jump rope, size wisely. See our video below for how to size your rope properly.
There are a lot of variables involved with jump ropes, but it's simpler when you're a beginner: Don't start with a weighted jump rope or a speed rope. While these may look fun and exciting, they are extra difficult to get started with.
Weighted ropes require you to exert more energy when jumping, which can make you tired and cause you to compromise your form.
Speed ropes are designed to go fast (usually for double unders), and they use a thin cable that can really hurt when you miss. When you're just learning, you want to "feel" the rope for developing a rhythm. Speed ropes are much more difficult to develop a rhythm with.
Instead, we recommend starting with a simple beaded rope or PVC rope, which both have just the right weight for "feeling" the rhythm without hurting yourself when you miss. (Pictured above is our Beginner Progression Jump Rope Bundle.)
Related: Jump rope buyer's guide
While jump roping in playground dirt might have been OK for you as a kid, it’s hardly the best surface to use as an enthusiast looking to get better. One of the most vital things to remember is that jump roping should be a low-impact activity.
Always look for a solid surface to jump on, and if you’re going to be outside, lay down a mat for a little more forgiveness (trust us, your knees will thank you). Concrete is not forgiving on your joints, and carpet can impact the course of your rope, so steer clear of those surfaces whenever possible.
The ideal surface for jump roping is a suspended wood floor or one made of rubber, like you might find in a gym. These types of surfaces provide absorption for your joints by distributing shock and having a little bounce to them. Win-win.
Remember, jump roping is a full-body activity, and you must keep that in mind as you consider proper form. First, you can protect your ligaments and joints—and save some energy—by slightly bending your knees while jumping. Next, be sure to land on the balls of your feet. Landing on your heels not only increases your chance of injury but can also throw you out of rhythm and hinder any potential improvement.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, the best jump ropers don’t rely much on their arms. Instead, they use their wrists to power and spin the rope over their heads. Proper form here involves keeping the hands near the front of the hip bones, with your wrists pointed outwards and doing all the work.
Letting your arms travel too far away from the body affects the speed of the rope and can also shorten it, forcing you to work much harder than what is actually needed. If you can stick to small and controlled circles, you’ll achieve maximum efficiency, and it will feel like the jump rope is almost turning itself, thanks to the momentum you’ve created.
Lastly, while jumping, don’t forget the importance of breathing. If you can find a good cadence with your breathing, regularly inhaling and exhaling in rhythm, you may be able to avoid becoming gassed quickly. Endurance is a key factor in jump roping.
As tempting as it may be to try and tackle some advanced jump roping tricks like one-foot hops, criss-cross, and everyone’s favorite, the boxer step, understanding and mastering the basics first will provide you with the foundation you need to elevate your jump roping. The single bounce step and jog step are the first two moves you should learn, followed by skiers, speed steps, and side swings.
Come out of the gates too hot or too ambitiously, and you risk getting hurt. An injury to your ankle or knee (even a minor one) could cost you weeks of training and result in a major setback. As with most things related to fitness, improving your jump roping ability will take time, so be patient and give yourself some grace.
If you had a goal to run a marathon, you would monitor your results and track how well you’re training, right? Jump roping should be no different. The only way to accurately recognize growth and measure improvement is to track your progress.
A variety of jump rope apps are available for your smartphone that allow you to chronicle your evolution toward jump rope greatness. Prefer an old-school approach? There’s nothing wrong with jotting down your progress in a notebook as you go.
Some notes you might want to record include the duration of your activity, the tricks you completed, how many calories burned, what you thought you did well, and any areas ripe for improvement.
If you’re committed and ready to become the best jump roper you can be, Elite Jumps can help. Check out our jump rope tutorials, complete with videos featuring top tips on footwork and tricks, and the how-to section of our blog.
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.