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The Secret World Of Competitive Jump Rope

Jump rope has far passed its playground stereotypes. Here's your guide to the growing competitive sport you didn't even know existed.

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Unlike many sports, competitive jump ropers practice year round, with very minimal breaks in preparation for nationals during the summer.

That's because jump ropers compete in many different events that require very different skills.

Speed events are the most enduring events jumpers compete in.

In this event, the jumper has to repeatedly execute speed steps as fast as they can for an allotted period of time.


The most usual times for speed events are 30 seconds, one minute, and three minutes.

Usually, there are three judges for each jumper who use clickers to keep track of how many times their right foot touches the ground.


The judges average their scores to get the jumper's speed score once the time is up.

For optimal speed, most jumpers use wire ropes.

Which will can cause extreme whip marks if you misstep.

Which will can cause extreme whip marks if you misstep.

There are also Double Dutch speed events.


Double Dutch speed events are broken up into two types: "relay" and "pairs."

Double Dutch Speed Relay is a three-person event.

In this event, each jumper jumps for 40 seconds then switches.


Clean switches are the key.

Double Dutch Pairs Speed is a four-person event.


In this event the turners don't switch, only the two jumpers. The combined total of the two jumpers is the score.

Seems a little easy, no? Well things are about to get a whole lot harder with the freestyle events.


A single freestyle routine is 60 to 75 seconds, usually made up of four different sequences. Most freestyle routines are performed in a 40' x 40' space taped off into four quadrants.

A good freestyle routine contains four different sequences. One of these sequences is called the power sequence.


This sequence is also referred to as the multiples sequence.

Power tricks showcase how fast the jumper can move the rope around and under their feet in a single jump.


For example, the slowed-down gif above would be considered a quadruple-under because the rope makes four rotations in the air before the jumper's feet hits the ground.

Jumpers string multiples together to create these difficult power sequences.


The harder the multiples, the better the jumper will be graded by the panel of judges.

Another freestyle sequence you'll find in a good routine is called the speed dance.


This sequence is usually found near the middle of the routine to break up the other sequences.

A good speed dance is made up of many tricks that require movement in the feet or arms and a quick change of pace.


The tricks are strung together in a fast pace that requires extreme coordination and agility.

The speed dance sequence is a good opportunity for the jumper to move across their allotted space and give quick smiles to the judges.


If a jumper doesn't hit all four quadrants during their freestyle routine, the judges will mark them down.

One of the most creative sequences in a freestyle routine is called the manipulation sequence.

Rope manipulations are any tricks that require arm action. (e.g. arm tucks, crosses, whirls, etc.) These tricks take the longest to perfect but are hypnotizing to watch.

Handle releases are some of the hardest jump rope tricks to master. You'll find them usually in the rope manipulation sequence.

Tired yet? Hopefully not, because the final and hardest sequence for most jumpers is the strength sequence.


Also referred to as the inversion and displacement sequence.

A typical strength sequence is made up of any tricks that take you off of your feet or requires changing the jumper's center of gravity.


Think gymnastics.

This sequence is where you'll see handstands, flips, and splits all while still jumping.

If you mess up doing a strength trick, your score will take a whipping.


For some jumpers, it's better to play it safe and have a polished routine largely made up of the other three elements than risk their rope flying while attempting a strength trick.

These four sequences also apply to other various freestyle events like Pairs Freestyle...

A free style routine synchronized with another jumper.

Double Dutch Freestyle...


A Double Dutch freestyle routine using three jumpers.

And Double Dutch Pairs Freestyle.


A Double Dutch freestyle routine using four jumpers.


Like, no big deal.

And if that's not enough routines to perfect, jumpers often compete in the Team Show event.


These team routines are set to music and made up of anywhere from six to a maximum of thirty jumpers per team.

But a jumper can't exert all of their energy into their freestyle routines. If they want to stay competitive, they need to jump higher than ever before for the Triple Unders event.


Unlike speed events, this one isn't timed because each jumper goes until they mess up. The jumper who does the most triples wins.

And yes, the rope goes under the jumper three times in one jump.

You have a long way to go, Katy.

If you want to learn more about competitive world of jump rope, skip on over to the USA Jump Rope site.

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