Improving Your Double Unders

Today’s #fittipfriday is going to help you master double unders by giving you some points of performance, a plan to get your first double or start linking bunches together, and some options for scaling double unders in your WOD to prevent you from falling back into old habits, ultimately saving you frustration and allowing you to focus on the skill in the midst of your WOD.
First off, you need to start with a rope that is the right length and cable thickness. I recommend stepping in the middle of your rope with one foot and pulling the handles up to your chest. The connection between thecable and the handle should be mid-sternum. Beginners (those who can get less than 25 DUs in a row) should use a rope with a thicker gauge cable. This allows you to feel the rope spin around your body and will help you time your jumps and wrist flicks.
You should perform double unders with your arms at your side, elbows bent so that your hands are a few inches in front of your body. Your feet should be together and you should strive for a consistent jump. Consistency is the name of the game with double unders. If you can repeat the same jump over and over, both in height and timing, you eliminate one of the key moving parts of a double under.
I have encountered many CrossFit athletes who have been stuck in the same place in their double under skill for a long long time. This is frustrating! Most of them struggle with linking double unders together and because of this they have created the movement pattern I call “single-single-double” or “single-double-single”. Essentially, they are inserting single unders between their doubles in order to aid in their timing or to help them gear up for a taller jump on that next double under attempt. The problem here is that by re-enforcing this movement pattern over and over in workouts just so they can simply make it through the doubles, they create a rhythm habit that is extremely difficult to break. In order to get 20 double unders, they will do 20, 40 or sometimes even 60 singles, ultimately meaning they are spending valuable time on the jump rope instead of being able to move on to the next portion of the workout. If this is you, let’s break that habit!
To break this habit, let’s go back to the single under. I recommend that you perform 100 “slow-rhythmic singles” every day for about 2 weeks. This will allow you to break the habit of having jumps of differing heights and timings in the midst of your sets of double unders. Once the jump is consistent and repeatable, add in the double spin or “wrist flick”, staying tall and sticking to the points of performance mentioned above. In practice time or in workouts I want to stress that you NEED to do doubles back to back to back, not adding any singles in between. This may mean that a set of 20 might take you longer than before, so it is important to understand that sometimes there is a need to backtrack in order to perfect a skill. This is true of any CrossFit skill! To prevent frustration mid-WOD, don’t be afraid (or too proud) to scale the number of double unders to manageable chunks in order to prevent you from returning to old habits just to get through those double unders. Remember, building skill helps improve fitness in the long run! Be patient and get practicing!