How Jumping Rope Can Supercharge Your Warm Up
Jogging laps is out, jumping rope is in. For me and the kids I coach anyway.
Recently, I have ditched jogging in favour of jumping rope when conducting small-group warm ups with kids.
I have experimented with a variety of warm up activities over the years and jumping rope has emerged as the current front-runner. It is now my go-to activity to start a warm up.
Why do I love jumping rope as a warm up activity?
Frankly, jogging around can be mind-numbingly boring stuff for kids. The variety of activities that can be done with a skipping rope is only limited by the imagination. The book “Jump Rope Training” by Buddy Lee (see below) outlines eighteen different techniques for jumping rope. This provides some idea of the potential scope of uses for a simple piece of equipment.
Some jump rope techniques that I use with young athletes include:
- A simple bounce jump on the spot
- A one-footed bounce (hopping) on the spot
- A bounce jump while moving forward
- A bounce jump while moving backwards
- A bonce jump while moving sideways.
- High stepping over the rope (i.e. running) on the spot.
Jumping rope requires:
- Coordination of movement
- Rhythm and timing
- Reaction off the ground
All of the above contribute to the development of athleticism in a young athlete.
Jumping rope works the feet, ankles and legs. It also involves the shoulders, chest, back, arms and hands.
Jumping rope provides far more challenges than an activity like jogging. Most kids can perform a basic jog. Not everyone can perform a skipping routine. I have on many occasions seen athletes struggle with a jump rope technique then delight themselves on achieving it.
The presence of challenge in the warm up encourages the athletes to be switched on and engaged early on in the session.
I will sometimes finish the jump rope section of a warm up by asking athletes to show me their best trick or to come up with a new technique. This turns the session over to the athletes for a short time and allows them some freedom to explore and create.
6. Easy to organise
A jump rope warm up is very easy and quick to organise. There is very little set-up. There are no complicated instructions or time-wasting activities. (Just make sure the ropes are not tangled!) It is as simple as asking the athletes to find a space and get started. The athletes are active quickly and therefore more likely to be engaged in the session right from the start.
7. Speed of warm-up
Jumping rope is a time-efficient way of warming-up. As it is quite an intense activity, it is amazing how quickly heart rates rise and athletes start to feel warm when jumping rope.
The nature of the activity allows the group members to stay close to the coach and close to each other. There is no disappearing across to the other side of the track or oval. This is great for supervision purposes. It is also beneficial for communication. The coach can chat with the athletes, and the athletes can easily chat with the other during the warm up.
9. Inexpensive equipment
Premium-type jump ropes can get quite expensive. But in Australia you can get basic PVC ropes from some stores and suppliers for between $2 and $5. It is relatively inexpensive to buy a rope for each member of a training group (depending on the size of the group) or to ask each member to buy one for themselves and bring it along.
Due to many of the items listed above, I have found jumping rope to be an enjoyable activity to begin a session with. There always seems to be lots of smiles and lots of eyes shining during the jump rope part of the session.
No activity is perfect and there are some potential disadvantages/issues that should be acknowledged.
- A good surface is needed – either synthetic or very well-cut grass. A rough surface or long grass is not at all suitable. Therefore, there are some limitations as to where jumping rope can be performed.
- The activity is not as suited to very big groups, due to the number of ropes that are needed.
- Good instruction and supervision is required to avoid young athletes getting too close together and risking colliding when involved in the activity.
- In an effort to prevent injuries to the athletes, care is needed to not introduce too much jump rope too soon. A gradual introduction is required.
- Those inexperienced at jumping rope will often clear the rope by jumping too high. They will flex at the hips and tuck up the knees. This causes a heavy impact with the ground on landing and will tire the athletes quickly. Tell the athletes that they need only jumping high enough to clear the rope and most of the work is done at the ankle joint, with only a slight bend of the knees.
- Finally, to clarify, jumping rope is not the only activity that I include in the warm up. An initial bout of jumping rope is often followed by a variety of mobility and strength activities, groups games and partner challenges, depending on the size of the group and the age of the athletes.
Try It And Let Me Know How It Goes
What worked and what didn’t? What did the kids enjoy? What were the best activities? I would love to hear from you. Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the below contact details.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.