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Want to improve your double unders? Don’t forget to train single bounce!

Kaylee Woodard, PhD, CSCS

Feb 11, 2024


Recently, at one of our jump rope skills clinics, a coach asked if his CrossFit athletes should train single bounce (AKA single unders) in order to improve their double under performance. The answer - “Absolutely!” Even though his athletes were already very good at single bounce, we still encouraged a moderately high volume of single bounce training. This answer may seem a bit strange to you. Why shouldn’t they just

spend all of their time on the target skill - double unders? We’re glad you asked! Let’s talk about it.


1. Single bounce is the foundation for all of the jump rope skills that are currently used in CrossFit, including double unders. When you effectively train the foundations, you prepare your neuromuscular system to perform the target skill more efficiently. This principle can be applied to any motor skill. Think about muscle ups, squat snatches, or any other complex skill. To maximize performance, of course, performing the target skill is vital, but you’ll also want to continually revisit and refine the foundations (kip swings, dips, over head squats, etc.). Double unders are no different. Take the time to continually train the foundation - single bounce - and you will be much better equipped to improve and master your double unders.


2. Single bounce is a great way to reduce impact and prevent injuries.


a. When done properly, single bounce is actually a relatively low impact movement. Research shows that the impact of single bounce on lower body joints is actually lower than the impact of running at a self-selected pace (1). What does this mean? It means that we can safely build up to pretty high volumes of single bounce jumping. This allows us to give our neuromuscular system much more exposure to the skill of jumping rope without the injury risk that comes with excessive double under practice. 


b. Not only does single bounce pose a lower risk for overuse injury compared to double unders, it also actively helps to prevent injuries! Repetitive low level plyometric exercises like single bounce are fantastic for strengthening the stabilizer muscles that surround joints and improving proprioception and kinesthetic awareness - basically, knowing where your joints are and how they’re moving. All of these things together help your brain and body to communicate with each other quickly and coordinate safe movement patterns. For example, if you land with your ankle in weird position, the coordination that comes from training low level plyometrics can allow you to quickly correct your joint position and continue safely.


3. Yes, single bounce training is great - but not just any single bounce training! To maximize effectiveness, training should be purposeful. So when you practice single bounces, do so with a purpose in mind. Maybe you need to work on relaxing your shoulders (this is MOST athletes!). Maybe you need to work on jumping lower or breathing while you jump. At each training session, choose one or two aspects to work on so that you can refine your technique, become more efficient, and get more comfortable with your rope!


4. Single bounce can make jump rope fun again! Try incorporating some simple footwork skills or get lost in the beat of a song to have some fun and relax your mind. Sometimes having fun and relaxing are the missing ingredients to unlocking the next level of jump rope skills.  


 

1.Mullerpatan, R., Shetty, T., Singh, Y., & Agarwal, B. (2021). Lower extremity joint loading during Bounce rope skip in comparison to run and walk. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 26, 1-6.

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