Today is day 30. The challenge has come to an end. What am I going to do now?
When Chris suggested the idea my first thoughts were how do I coach people in a movement I know I am rubbish at? But the reality is sport is filled with coaches who no longer participate or practice their chosen field. It is about understanding the movement and being able to break it down. This challenge for me was not only about improving our double unders but improving my coaching skills and most importantly having fun while we did it.
So what did we do? I started by going back to the basics. After much deliberation I decided to improve our singles/skipping first. My reasoning was if we had great skipping relaxed and controlled then taking the next step up would be easier (?) at least that is what I thought at the time.
Below is the list of progression drills we started with:
- Proper Rope. Generally a fast spinning light weight rope, but some people prefer a heavy rope. The industry sells a thousand “Holy Grail” ropes. I have a Buddy Lee one, it works. The rope should be the correct length. Stand on the centre of the rope and the handles should reach your armpits. Some like it a tad shorter. “Tad” is imperial for the metric “a bit”.
- Practice singles. Relaxed efficient jump timing. With a hollow or dished body shape, hands in front of torso slight bend in the elbow and rotating at the wrist. I want you to listen to the rhythm. Get to know it. Especially note the sound of the rope hitting the floor just before passing under your feet.
- Now lose the rope and practice single jumps as if with the rope then power jump once and return to singles. You are looking to create height but not massive amounts just enough to allow the rope to spin under twice. Think about the landing do not travel. Think about body shape do not heel kick/bring your knees up/pike when power jumping. Maintain hollow body position.
- Practice with the rope try and do 4 singles 1 DU get comfortable with this so you can easily transition and maintain shape especially as you start to get a little tired.
- Next 2 singles 1 DU.
- Lose the rope practice single jumps followed by 2 power jumps. Say 2 for 2 or 1 for 2 but building up to stringing multiple power jumps together and maintaining good rhythm and shape.
- Now let’s try this with the rope. Take your time build up to getting comfortable with multiple DU’s. Listen for that timing of when to jump. Just as the rope hits the floor you should be power jumping and accelerating/whipping that rope through for the DU.
The above is a direct lift from the original post I will discuss each one and what worked, what I would change.
1. Rope and rope length is important. I found I was so used to my own rope picking up another just messed me up. It is like jumping on someone else’s bike you can ride it but it feels awkward. Get your own rope. The length, loads of opinions out there on this. But in a nutshell stand on the centre with one foot and the handles should reach somewhere between the top of your shoulders and just below your armpits. It is a personal preference thing, play with it.
2. Singles I cannot add much to this but emphasize get good controlled slow singles it pays dividends later.
3. Power jumps are hard its an explosive movement while maintaining the hollow body shape. You need to get good at this. I included this as I saw it as the most efficient way to do a double under but it turned out that maintaining perfect form was not absolutely necessary. I will come back to this later.
4-7. These drills were just a steady progression towards getting consecutive double unders for me they kind of worked in as a much that I am great at one single one double under over and over again but making that leap to consecutive DU’s for me has proved very hard. It is maddening I am so good at it I cannot stop it. This leads me on and back to what I hinted at in point 3.
Anyone learning DU’s now I would encourage to not linger on the alternating single and DU drills. Once you can get one DU I would just keep trying to string them together. They might not be pretty but I think you will benefit more and avoid getting trapped in the alternating single/DU stage like me. I would add to this wrist rotation, this was discussed at length during the challenge and I have seen a variety of actions from classic small circles to snapping up and down to a figure of eight action, they all worked!
I find myself concluding that there are some basic principles that work for all but there are some you can just not insist on and let the student find what works for them, things like pike and donkey kicking. Do not over focus on trying to remove these if the student feel they need to do this to get the double under done and it works, let it go. Later when they are very confident with their DU’s they can focus on getting more efficient. There is no one size fits all solution.
Is five minutes a day enough? On the whole yes I have massively improved my shape and efficiency when doing singles and have beautiful single DU’s! But every now and then you might try a bit more than five minutes maybe on a rest day. It has been interesting and challenging coaching by email and I have read a ton of articles on DU’s. Team Double Unders are a fantastic group and it was a real honour and pleasure to coach them and see the progress they made.
And like I said at the top it was important we had some fun too.
Thank you it has been emotional.
Some quotes from members of Team Double Under:
“Thanks very much for all the help Colin, really appreciate the assistance. Started with 0 and now can string a good few together. Going to make sure to get as much practice in as possible but it’s definitely clicked. Next up; kipping!”
“Colin, thank you so much for all your time, support, great advice and skipping / DU progressions which have taken me from someone that couldn’t skip to someone with DUs. I am really quite amazed at how well I’ve done. My best is 6 DUs in a row!! And its not just flukes either, i stop, reset and try again and can with some confidence skip, DU, skip, DU, etc. That may not be exactly WOD ready but I can sure as hell say, I CAN DU!!”
” I have really enjoyed the last month and really think this is the way I would like to get better at other key skills in future so I hope that the coaches buy into doing something similar again.”
“Just to say thanks again; I was a bit lax last week to be honest but last night managed to put together about 15 consecutive DUs. I realised that my tempo was off, as soon as I was going for consecutives I was just spinning the rope manically. So made a conscious effort to get a kind of “bom bom….. bom bom… bom bom…” rhythm back and actually let the rope slow down a little between DUs, and as if by magic it worked”
“Very pleased I finally managed a few DU’s on the last day. My mission today is to buy a fancy speed rope and to finally say goodbye to the thick fluro number from Sports Direct!!”
“When the 30 days started and I signed up for the challenge I did not have a single double under. Somehow I had a weird mental block that stopped me from even contemplating how a double under could ever be achieved. Especially by me. But by focusing on just the simplest details – arms in close to the body, skipping slower (!), practising high jumps – it became more about learning control and understanding the different elements of the skip, and less about feeling like I couldn’t achieve the end result. It became about the journey, as corny as that sounds. And then last week, on day 22 (I think) I got my first double under, and I wasn’t even trying for it, it kind of just happened. Since then I’ve got a few more, at most two in a row before I collapsed with excitement and utter disbelief at what I had just done. The thing I thought I’d never be able to do, happened.”