Most people are either jubilant or crestfallen when they see double unders in the WOD. Once you have the timing down, they can be fun, but until then they can be one of the most frustrating movements in the world. Here are some tips about double unders.
First things first, get really good at single unders. It is no accident that we make you do more singles unders as a scale for doubles. Good at singles means that you are barely jumping off the ground on the balls of your feet. You are moving just enough to let the rope pass under. It also means that you have fast rotation time using your wrists, not your shoulders. Singles should be fast and effortless looking, like Buddy Lee’s:
Buddy Lee did a series of videos for CrossFit worth checking out starting with a very basic intro, moving on to fixing the basic bounce, and ending with the CrossFit Jump Rope Holy Grail of double unders. For those of you who are saying “Buddy Who?”, he is a former Olympic Wrestler and obvious badass with a jump rope.
Once you get really good at singles, you have to step out of your comfort zone into being really bad at doubles for a while. The best rope for learning singles or doubles is not a speed rope (tiny, whipping wire that welts on your arms may be familiar with). At first, you want a rope with a little weight so that you are receiving spatial feedback as the rope moves around your body. Check out Buddy Lee beginner’s ropes (we are considering getting some for the gym) or RX Jump Ropes beginner series at this stage. When you get a rope moving fast, there is little room for error in knowing exactly where that rope is. A slightly heavier rope will communicate its location better. After you get some doubles with the heavier rope, you will want to move to a speed rope for well…speed. The heavy ropes wear you down quickly, so once you get the rhythm, you will move on to the ropes that all CrossFitters use. Buddy Lee also makes a rope for advanced users; Rogue and Again Faster make some nice advanced ropes that you may have seen around the gym.
When you finally achieve consecutive doubles, you need to work on efficiency. You want more consecutive doubles with less effort. You want to get rid of over jumping to compensate for poor mid-line stability or erratic hand and foot placement. Your aim is not just lots of consecutive double unders, but you want to get consecutive double unders with jumps no higher than your super-smooth singles. Take a look at Chris Spealler’s instructional video and note how high he jumps. Excellent technique increases your performance.