Watching sports is one the most popular forms of entertainment, and the Olympic Games is a perfect thing to keep up with if you love the excitement of competition. People are also constantly searching for something new and exciting to discover, so why not add a never-before-seen sport to the Olympic Games? Competitive jump rope is an incredibly creative sport that is guaranteed to take your breath away. The only problem is, most people have absolutely no knowledge about this sport, which is why it desperately needs to be exposed to the world by becoming an Olympic event.
The world is missing out on something that has the potential to be one of the next best forms of entertainment and is assured to get people excited, especially when it's viewed at first sight. So how exactly does competitive jump rope work, and what makes me think it is so special to be considered being put into the Olympic Games? Well, let me tell you.
Okay, so what is competitive jump rope like, exactly?
If the only jump roping you’ve been exposed to has been from recess as a child or from crossfit, then jump rope is probably not what you think it is. Yes, it does involve double dutch, and yes there are double unders, but to an extreme extent. Let me explain:
In competition, there a several different types of jump rope freestyle events: single rope, where an individual has one rope; double dutch, where two people are spinning two ropes at opposite times with at least one person jumping inside; and Chinese wheel, where two people each have a rope, and each person holds one of the other person's handles and spins the ropes at opposite times.
In each of these jumping style and events, there are 3 different basic categories of trick that must be performed in the routine in order to get the highest score possible:
This first category, and my personal favorite, is rope manipulation,. This is also the category where you can be the most creative, which means it's also very hard to understand unless you actually see it. Some of the basic rope manipulation tricks include crosses, side swings, rope releases, and wraps. Each of these tricks can also be mixed with different arm and leg positionings and orientations, such as behind the back, under the leg, behind the knees, behind the head, etc. By combining all of these elements together, there are endless amounts of different rope manipulation skills and combinations.
The second category is multiples. This is where the jump rope must pass around your body more than once. The most basic multiple is the double under, where the rope makes two revolutions around your body. But it doesn't stop there. Other multiples include triple, quadruple, and sometimes even quintuples unders. Very rarely you will see a person do straight multiple unders; rather, multiples are combined with simple rope manipulation skills in order to score higher content in competition. An example of a common high level multiple is the triple under TJ; a person's arms perform a side swing, then a cross under one leg, and finally an open revolution, all in one jump.
The third and probably coolest to watch category is power. This is basically where gymnastics and body displacement is incorporated. Usually, the hardest power tricks you will see include round offs, back flips, front flips; you can really do any flip, as long as you are able to incorporate the rope in some way. When a person performs a backflip with a single rope, they will typically turn the rope around their body 3 times while they are flipping, making it a triple under backflip. For the people who can't do flips, some of the basic power skills are frogs/donkey kicks (which is basically a handstand), push-ups, splits, and crabs (where one leg is stuck out and one leg is bent while you are almost sitting on the floor – this one's a real shin-killer). And remember, any of these skills can be combined with multiples and/or rope manipulation.
The other major category that is competed in jump rope besides freestyle is speed and power. In speed events, a person must jump as fast as they possibly can in a "jogging step" inside the rope within a certain time limit. In competition, only the right foot is counted when it touches the floor because counting both feet would be nearly impossible to score since the person is going so fast. Speed can be done with a single speed rope or in double dutch. Single speed ropes are often made of wire for maximum speed. As you can imagine, messing up at any point while doing speed can be extremely painful. The time durations for jumpers are different depending on the specific speed event, but can range between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.
Another type of "speed" event that is completed is double unders. The most common events in competition are one person doing as many double unders as they can in 30 seconds, or two people each doing double unders for 30 seconds one person after the other.
And finally, the most common "power" event competed is consecutive triple unders. This event is not timed, rather people compete to see who can do the most triple unders without missing. Depending on how many a person does, it can take a long time. The current world record for consecutive triple under is 521.
What's the big problem?
From my personal experience as a competitive jump roper, I can confirm that virtually no one knows what competitive jump rope even is. For instance, every single time that I have told someone that I jump rope, their immediate response to what I tell them is nowhere near as exaggerated as when I actually demonstrate my jump rope abilities to them.
The severe unawareness of what competitive jump rope actually involves is mostly caused by two problems: The first and the probably most obvious reason is that it's not a very popular sport. In the United States alone, there are only about 80 different jump rope teams nationwide, while there are several thousand different sports teams in the U.S. of the different events that are included in the Olympic Games. The second (and also most annoying) problem is that the only first-hand experience that most people have with jump rope is either the jump roping they did as a kid on the school playground, or the skills that are involved in cross-fit jump rope.
Although this problem is quite annoying to competitive jump ropers, the fact that it is so unknown is almost a good thing and makes it more unique than it already is. Because of the lack of knowledge and understanding that the world has towards competitive jump rope, the astonishing and almost seemingly impossible tricks that are executed in the sport are more than likely to captivate a person's attention if they were to watch it in the Olympic Games.
How does it compare to other Olympic sports?
Although competitive jump rope is so unique and unusual, compared to any other sport that you may have ever seen, there are some sports in the Olympics that are actually very similar to the way competitive jump rope is competed an scored.
From my perspective, gymnastics seems to have the most similar characteristics to jump rope when it comes to the way each sport competes. For example, like most other sports, each sport is associated with a variety of different national and international competitions. Some examples of different jump rope organizations on the US national level include USA Jump Rope , AAU Jump Rope, The American Jump Rope Federation, and the National Collegiate Jump Rope Council. On the international level are The World Jump Rope Federation (WJRF), and The International Rope Skipping Federation (FISAC-IRSF). However, in December 2017 these 2 international organization came together to form the The International Jump Rope Union, which also recently gained observer status under The Global Association of International Sports Federations. Some examples of national gymnastic organizations include USA Gymnastics and NCAA Gymnastics (college organization), and an international organization is the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), also known as the International Federation of Gymnastics (IFG). While the recent formation of the IJRU has solved the previous issue of which organization would be the head governing body for the sport internationally under GAISF, one major issue for the Unites States is that is has yet to decide on which organization should become the official nation governing body under IJRU.
Although the rules and scoring for competitive gymnastics and competitive jump rope are not exactly the same, they are very similar in general. The biggest similarity between the two sports is that groups or individuals in each of the different events that are executed are given points based on difficulty/content and execution/presentation out of a maximum possible score. In jump rope, the maximum possible score for all freestyle events is out of 10 points (although it is nearly impossible to score a perfect 10), while in gymnastics, the highest score is also a 10, but it is possible to get a perfect score.
Another similarity between the two sports is that they are both composed of different events. In competitive jump rope, there are three different basic freestyle events that can be further categorized into more specific events: single rope, double dutch, and Chinese wheel. Some of the basic events in gymnastics include the vault, balance beam, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, floor exercises, and several more. Like any other competitive sport, each event for each of the two sports is divided between male and female. The only exception for this is that in jump rope, genders can be combined in group events and are separate as a third "open" category. Another major difference is that in jump rope, all events are the same for each gender category, while in gymnastics, there are specific events for each gender. (Example: all gender categories in jump rope can compete a double dutch singles routine, but in gymnastics only girls do uneven bars, and only guys do rings, etc.)
The only category in competitive jump rope that is uncomparable to gymnastics is speed and power. In all speed events, groups or individuals are timed from anywhere between 30 seconds to 3 minutes and must try to reach the highest score they possibly can. Speed can be better compared to any type of race such as running.
On a personal level...
Now, aside to the technical reasons to why jump rope should be an Olympic sports, one of the most important reasons that I and probably every single jump roper out there personally believes that jump rope should become an Olympic sport is because, just like any other sport, there is an excessive amount of time, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that is required in order to be able to be successful.
The world needs to be exposed to something that is more than a sport. It's a unique talent that the only fraction of a percent of people in the world has the ability to do, and it can take several years for a person to be able to do certain tricks or reach a certain score.
I want the world to experience the exhilaration and excitement that I felt when I first saw some of the greatest jump ropers in the nation and the world perform. I want other people to be inspired and pick up a jump rope themselves, start their own teams, and teach other people. This is one of the biggest reasons why us competitive jump ropers want to be able to become a part of the Olympic Games. Exposing it to the world in such a big way will revolutionize the sport and help it grow more than ever before.
Want to see more? Here are some of the best jump rope YouTube and Instagram accounts: