If you are familiar with our work here at Jump Rope Dudes, you know that we have spent almost a decade dedicating our lives to helping thousands of dudes and dudettes burn fat, get fit, and have fun jumping rope.
And while we (Dan and Brandon) cover a diverse range of topics across all of our channels, one of our main goals has always been to produce content that helps beginners master the jump rope basics.
Why do we focus on beginners?
Well, we understand that tripping, whipping, sore muscles, and general frustration may spoil the experience of learning how to jump rope. Trust us when we say that we both spent the first few months of our respective jump rope journeys walking out of the gym with rope whip all over our bodies! The key is not to get discouraged as you focus your attention on conquering the fundamentals. Remember, jumping rope is a process of trial and error – one that requires a growth mindset.
Today, we are going to take a look at the top 10 jump rope mistakes we typically see in beginners, as well as how you can fix each mistake.
The objective of this article is to provide you with some easy adjustments that will help you quickly improve your form, minimize frustration, and make the overall experience of learning to jump rope more enjoyable.
Story Time: Why You Shouldn’t Give Up
Before getting into our list of common beginner mistakes, we think it is important to highlight that while most mistakes are due to bad form, it is not uncommon for the root causes of bad form to be tied to external factors.
Confused? Allow us to illustrate this point with a quick anecdote from Dan’s jump rope journey.
For several years now, members of our community (and a few trolls) have commented that Dan’s form – particularly his arm and elbow positioning – seems to stray from the best practices that we teach here at Jump Rope Dudes. People want to know why, if we believe that proper form is a prerequisite to burning fat, staying fit, and having fun with the jump rope, are we failing to practice what we preach?
Dan responds to these critiques in the video embedded above. Essentially there are two external factors beyond Dan’s control that are negatively impacting his ability to jump rope with proper form:
- First, Dan has scoliosis. This condition causes a curve in his spine and results in significantly misaligned shoulders, making it harder for him to develop proper body control.
- Second, Dan spent a number of years slinging plates in the weight room as a 260-pound defensive lineman playing American football. This training – and resulting muscle tightness in his latissimi dorsi – has made it difficult for him to maintain ideal elbow positioning as he jumps.
Although Dan has taken several corrective actions to improve his form (see the video for details), he is always going to need to work through these two external factors.
And yet, his issues haven’t stopped him from mastering the basics, building his confidence, and enjoying all of the benefits that jumping rope has to offer. A combination of effort, dedication, and professional help has put Dan in a position to effectively manage both his scoliosis and lat tightness as he continues to grow on his jump rope journey.
The point? Don’t give up!
While these types of circumstances may be frustrating, we know plenty of dudes and dudettes with similar success stories. If you find yourself in a comparable situation, stay strong, focus on the fundamentals, and be sure to speak with the appropriate healthcare professionals.
Now, with that point made, let’s check out our top beginner mistakes!
1. Jump Rope Length
Perhaps the most common beginner mistake we see dudes and dudettes make is training with an improperly sized jump rope. As we have mentioned many times before, proper jump rope length is crucial to learning the basics, eliminating harmful habits, and having fun.
If your jump rope is too long, you are guaranteed to hit the floor with it. You will lose momentum, and are more likely to develop bad form as you overcompensate to keep pace. Now, if your rope is too short, this is also a problem. A short rope will force you to jump higher than is optimal to avoid whipping your legs or feet and, consequently, throw off both your arm mechanics and body positioning.
The bottom line is this – an improperly sized rope is not sustainable. You’re either going to quit or get hurt.
For the “quick fix,” you have two options.
You can 1) purchase a rope (like the Crossrope) that arrives already sized to your body, or 2) learn how to properly size your rope. If you decide to go with option #1, check out the Crossrope sizing chart to the right. This chart is based on a range of heights and is periodically updated to provide jumpers of all shapes and sizes with an ideal rope size. Click on the image to learn more about Crossrope how you can easily get your hands on the world’s best jump rope.
If you want to learn more about option #2, we recommend you check out our recent blog post on the topic: How To Measure Your Jump Rope in 5 Easy Steps.
2. Excessive Arm Movement
Excessive arm movement is a mistake that is common among all jumpers – not just beginners.
This is likely due to a misplaced belief that you need to move your elbows and shoulders to effectively spin your rope. Powering your rope with excessive and aggressive arm movement will not only lead to rapid fatigue, but you will never have that pivotal “ah ha” moment with respect to rhythm.
In this case, the secret to keeping your center of gravity aligned and minimizing arm movement is to focus on only using your wrists and forearms to spin the rope.
As Dan suggests in his “poor form” video, one of the best ways to combat excessive arm movement is to jump rope in front of a mirror. Similar to dancers looking to critique their form for a new routine, a mirror will help you recognize flaws in your jump rope technique.
As you watch yourself jump, focus on keeping your arms and shoulders still (they should move naturally, but not excessively), your core tight, and be sure to power the rope through each rotation with your wrists.
3. Elbows Too Wide
Related to excessive arm movement, “elbows too wide” is another common mistake among beginners.
This is something we mentioned when we told Dan’s story at the beginning of this article. The problem with wide elbows is that you shorten the length of your rope, leaving you with a smaller margin of error when passing the rope under your feet.
How do you know if your elbows are too wide? You very likely have red welts from rope whip all over your legs, shins, and even forehead.
The quick fix here is to focus on keeping your elbows as close as possible to your ribs while still maintaining comfortable and fluid rope rotations. In reality, you can’t jump rope effectively when touching your elbows to your ribs. However, this awareness of elbow positioning will help you develop better control over your rope, paying huge dividends as you progress to more advanced tricks and movements.
It may help to imagine your arms as a tightly wound coil. If you fail to maintain tension by extending the coil too far, it will unravel, and you will lose control.
4. Improper Grip
Although often overlooked, handle grip is a crucial element of proper jump rope form.
Improper grip makes it extremely difficult to control your rope’s velocity, tempo, and movement, especially when progressing to advanced tricks. When it comes to general jump rope fitness (not competition or trick-specific training), we typically explain the ideal grip in four basic steps:
- Hands out: As we discussed in the previous section, be sure to keep your arms and elbows tight to your ribs. This will naturally result in your hands extending out from your body at a 45-degree angle.
- Palms facing up: As you grip your jump rope handle, your palms should always be facing up.
- Four fingers wrapped around the handle: Use your four non-thumb fingers (technically, your thumb is a “digit”) to grip your handle, leaving your thumb free. It’s not necessary to hold your handle very tight, just enough for you to be comfortable and in control.
- Thumbs up: Your thumbs should rest on the top side of the handles. Most handles have an indent right before the bearing that connects the handle to the rope. You can take that space as a reference for correctly placing your thumb on the handle.
This grip proves very effective in providing you with complete control over the rope. In fact, the physics of this grip are so effective it’s no surprise that a wide range of athletes use similar grip varieties to help maintain control over their sporting equipment (hockey players, fly fishermen, golfers, etc.).
Now, it is important to note that proper grip also depends on the weight of your rope.
The heavier the rope, the more likely you will need to wrap your thumb around the handle for additional support and muscle group activation (forearm, bicep, shoulder, etc.). Check out the video embedded above. Here Brandon explains his two grip preferences – the basic grip we just covered and a “wrapped-thumb” grip for heavy and ultra-heavy ropes (1/2 LB and above).
5. Jumping Too High
Another common jump rope mistake we see in beginners is jumping too high.
This tends to happen when beginners, in an effort to avoid hitting their feet and tripping, overcompensate by bringing their knees up and kicking their legs out as they look to create as much space as possible between their feet and the ground.
We want to be clear here – unless you are training for double-unders or a specific jump rope trick, you should never jump more than 1-2 inches off the ground. Jumping any higher is highly likely to lead to common jump rope injuries (shin splints, back pain, knee pain, etc.) and will transform jumping rope from a low-impact to high-impact exercise activity.
The quick fix for this mistake has three parts:
- First, always keep your feet together.
- Next, be sure to maintain a slight bend in your knees.
- Finally, always try to land softly on the point between your toes and the balls of your feet (this will help position you for your next jump with minimal effort).
For a more detailed explanation, check out our video tutorial on the topic. Dan will walk you through what jumping too high looks like, as well as how you can easily implement the quick fix technique described above with the help of some ropeless practice sessions.
6. Bad Posture
Another subject we often discuss is posture.
Proper posture is not only essential to mastering the jump rope, it lays the foundation for every movement that your body makes. Posture determines how well your body adapts to physical stressors and is crucial for quality of life movements like bending over to pick something up.
With respect to jumping rope, if your posture is less than ideal, your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright and balanced. Over time, this results in wear and tear on your muscles and joints and can lead to injury. If you find yourself in a position with your head down and shoulders hunched – something we often see in beginners – you have bad posture.
But not to worry! There is hope!
Check out the video we have embedded above. In this video, we link up with the body movement experts from MoveU to discuss some quick fixes for bad jump rope posture habits. If you are simply looking for some general guidance, here are five posture best practices you should follow when jumping rope:
- Keep your back straight.
- Shoulder blades should be pulled back.
- Eyes towards the horizon, with head and neck straight (also helps improve balance).
- Avoid arching your hip zone. Keep it aligned in a neutral position.
- Activate your glutes and core.
If you want to learn more about the link between posture and jumping rope, check out our YouTube video tutorial detailing how Dan uses the jump rope to improve his posture and help alleviate lower back pain.
7. Poor Jump Rope Quality
The next two mistakes on our list focus on proper jump rope equipment.
First, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to use a high-quality jump rope. Ideally, beginners should learn with a jump rope that can adjust to their needs while still challenging them to learn and grow. Too often, we see beginners using old, frayed, kinked, or borrowed and improperly sized jump ropes.
Remember, jump rope quality matters!
While we understand that PVC and other basic ropes are cost-effective, they tend to be poorly constructed and too light for the needs of a beginner. The ideal rope for beginners will be heavy enough to offer a sufficient level of feedback and tension – crucial to helping you improve your timing, coordination, and rhythm.
The quick fix? Get yourself a Crossrope.
We know we talk about this rope all the time, but it truly is the highest quality rope on the market. As a weighted jump rope manufactured with premium materials (no more coiling or tangling), the Crossrope activates more muscle groups and burns more calories when compared to basic ropes, and also significantly shortens the jump rope learning curve for beginners.
Both of these sets come with heavier ropes (1/4 LB and 1/2 LB ropes for the former, 1 LB and 2 LB ropes for the latter) and are ideal for learning the jump rope basics as you burn fat and build strength.
8. Improper Footwear
Proper athletic footwear is another essential piece of equipment that will help you avoid injuries and improve your jump rope performance.
Whether you are a beginner or a jump rope master, the right (or wrong) shoe can have a huge impact on your overall jump rope experience. The wrong shoe will force you to change the biomechanics of your body when jumping, making it difficult to learn the basics and setting you up for repetitive impact injuries like shin splints and knee pain.
In our opinion, an ideal pair of shoes for jumping rope will do the following:
- Absorb the shock of repetitively jumping.
- Provide you with both comfort and performance.
- Encourage proper technique.
Considering these three points, we believe that the best shoes for jump rope training are basketball or cross-training shoes. Not only do they provide a high degree of comfort, but they help facilitate repetitive and high-impact movements like jumping. With good ankle stability, arch support, and stylish colorways as an added plus, you can’t go wrong with one of these two types of shoes.
If you are interested in learning more about the shoes we use for jump rope training, check out the video embedded above. Here Dan will take you through the different types of shoes he uses to jump rope. If you are an advanced jumper and want to learn more about the pros and cons of jumping rope barefoot, check out our video tutorial: Should You Jump Rope Barefoot?
9. Too Much Too Soon
Like most athletic and fitness endeavors, very few people master the jump rope in a few weeks.
Jumping rope is a progression-based exercise. As such, the aim for beginners should be to develop proper fundamentals and master the basics before moving on to more advanced tricks and techniques. There is no way to cheat the learning curve, and attempting to do so will set you up for a frustrating and potentially injury-filled jump rope experience.
We understand that you may be new to jumping rope and excited to DO THE THING.
But trust us when we say that you need to take it slow, schedule rest days, and build a solid foundation before cranking up your work volume. Five minutes every other day is totally fine as you begin your jump rope journey! Once you feel comfortable with the basics, you can add an extra five minutes to your workouts every one to two weeks as you master proper form and increase your stamina. And remember, it’s totally fine if it takes you a few months to work your way up to doing our full-length 30 minute workouts (like those you will find on Jump Rope Dudes TV).
If you are new to the amazing world of jumping rope, we recommend that you check out our blog post, How to Jump Rope: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. Here you will find everything you need to get started jumping rope, including easy-to-follow video tutorials. These resources should go a long way in helping you pace yourself and maximize your jump rope progress.
10. Forgetting to Have FUN!
Mistake #10 is something we continually try to reinforce with our amazing community…
Jumping rope is FUN!
We (Dan and Brandon) are committed to jumping rope for a number of reasons. For sure, we get to stay fit year-round and help others – both of which are awesome! And yet, we wouldn’t dedicate our lives to jumping rope if it wasn’t fun. Trust us when we say that we still have a blast jumping rope even after all these years. It’s still a challenge, and like all challenges, we have learned to enjoy the process.
So, what’s our quick fix?
Throw on some music, grab your rope, stay patient, go at your own pace, and get out there and have some fun.
JRDTV: An Interactive Fitness Experience
In this article, we’ve gone through the 10 most common beginner mistakes for jumping rope, as well as quick fixes for each.
We know getting started may seem daunting, but we are here to help! If you think you need some direct coaching or additional jump rope support, we strongly encourage you to consider signing up for Jump Rope Dudes TV, our brand new jump rope community platform. JRDTV, as an ongoing and interactive fitness experience, is all about community, accountability, and simplicity.
Are you short on time or not sure where to start?
With JRDTV, we not only offer a catalog of hundreds of commercial-free workout routines, but community members can sign up to receive a daily workout in their email inbox Monday through Friday. This feature is in addition to our live workouts, community accountability forum, and members-only coaching.
Taken as a whole, JRDTV provides everything you need to jump rope, get lean, and live more.
Wrapping Things Up
Well fam – that’s it for today!
We hope we have helped you identify and conquer some of your jump rope demons!
If you have any questions that we didn’t specifically address in this article, feel free to drop us a line on any one of our social media channels (Instagram and Facebook), and we will try to get back to you ASAP. We also recommend that you check our YouTube channel. Here you will find a lot of great (and free!) jump rope tutorials and workouts to help guide you on your jump rope journey. And remember, if you are interested in trying out Jump Rope Dudes TV, we are offering a 7-day free trial. Sign up and give our 7-day beginner jump rope challenge a try!
DO THE THING!