Jump Rope Jamboree
Christina Lee Steele Chapan
M.A. Education Curriculum and Instruction
B.S. Elementary Education
Jump roping is a great skill for children to learn. In the following
article, I will give you a brief overview of the history of the jump rope.
In the second section there will be some hints for teaching the beginner or
an advanced learner. In the last part of my essay I would recommend to use
with your clients while teaching this skill.
Jumping rope is a minimal time, high calorie burning exercise. In fifteen
to twenty minutes jumpers can burn minutes the calories in a candy bar.
This exercise teaches coordination, balance, and flexibility. It is an all
body workout with the upper and lower muscle groups. Indirectly, it also
teaches the body to balance with the mind.
Originally, like most sports, jump roping was a boys’ game. Brave girls of
the 1850’s decided to give jump roping a try. Scientific experts at the
time said that the “girls would become tired and have blood vessels burst in
their brains.” “What could become more unladylike than falling down in a
bloody heap on the front lawn.” Those brave tomboys proved the experts
wrong. Things changed in the 20th century when Muhammad Ali highlighted
jump roping as a part of his training. His accessibility to competitive
sports lead to acceptance of cultural and non-gender jump roping. Today,
many male and female bodybuilders use it as a cardiovascular part of their
Jump ropes are a great choice for fitness training because they are
inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. Jumping can happen virtually
anywhere inside or outside. Little space is needed for basic jumping
skills. Children of all ages and skill levels find numerous ways to use the
rope. I have recently rediscovered the joys of jumping and have added it in
my training with elementary children.
When I teach jump roping I usually start with free play. As I begin
instruction, I have them jump as high as they can and then as low as they
can. Primarily, I teach on a hard surface and I ask them to jump hard and
soft on that surface. We discuss which type of jumping is the easiest to
perform. Next, we talk about posture and show the differences of jumping
straight, crooked, slanted, etc. If you jump low, soft and stand straight,
you will be a successful jumper. I emphasize as well the following:
• Adjust the rope by holding the handles and stepping on the rope.
• Jumpers should put their hands down beside and slightly out from
• Don’t have your hands by your shoulders.
• Shorten the rope so the handles reach your armpits.
• Arms need to be fairly straight and relaxed.
• Wear properly fitted athletic shoes, preferably cross-training
shoes. ( Many children wear inappropriate footwear and can injure themselves
or lessen their ability levels)
• At first, use beaded ropes for beginners because they hold their
shape and are easier to control than a lightweight rope.
• See how many times the jumper can consecutively jump without missing.
• Focus on concentration while performing the jumping skills.
If I am working with lower elementary students, I try to have them make
shapes and letters to jump in, out and to the left and right of the shape or
letter. This also teaches children the concept of letters, shapes,
directions, and patterns. Students can also make a group word and jump on
their friend’s letters.
Here are some group readiness games I would recommend to beginning middle
• JUMP A STATIONARY ROPE – The rope is stretched out across the
floor. The jumpers line up and jump the rope one at a time on a signal.
As the jumper approaches the rope he plants both feet together and broad
jumps across the rope. Cue: take off on 2 feet and land on 2 feet.
• JUMP THE SNAKE – Rope turners crouch or kneel and wiggle the rope
from side to side, (no more than 12 inches). Jumpers take off and land as
they did with a stationary rope. The goal is to avoid touching the rope.
• SIDE SWING- Fold the rope in half and turn around with your body in
a circular fashion. Have the partner jump over the rope as it goes around
in a circle.
• SIDE STEP SIDEWARD- Again fold the rope in half with both hands to
one side of the body. Swing the rope to the left side of the body and then
the right side. Jump over the rope as it touches the left and then the
right side of the body.
• STRADDLE JUMP-Alternate…. a regular jump with a straddle jump. The
straddle jump has the feet spread to shoulder width.
• SKIER- The skier is a double-foot jump similar to a technique used
by skiers. The jumper stands on both feet on a line. Jumping is down
sideways back ad forth over the line. Children should also try it in a
backward and forward direction.
• HEEL TOE- The Heel-toe, as the rope passes under the feet, the
jumper jumps with the weight landing on the right foot while touching the
left heel forward. On the next turn of the rope, he humps lands on the same
foot, and touches the left toe beside the right heel. This pattern is done
again with the opposite foot bearing the weight.
• JUMP ROPE RHYMES - Rhymes or chants work well with small or large
group activities. Here are a few choices for everyone to join in and keep
the whole group interested and on task.
I love apples, red and green
Tasty fruit is fit for a queen.
Let us pick some from the tree
You can eat them along with me.
How many apples can we eat?
1, 2, 3, 4...
Salute to the Captain
Bow to the Queen
And turn your back
On the dirty submarine
1 and 1 are 2
2 and 2 are 4
4 and 4 are 8
Mother, Mother, I am ill.
Call the doctor over the hill.
In came the doctor.
In came the nurse
In came the lady
With the alligator purse.
“Measles,” said the doctor.
“Mumps,” said the nurse.
“Nothing,” said the lady
With the alligator purse
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
As shown above, jump roping can also teach academic skills such as
memorizing spelling words, states, and math.
In conclusion, jump roping is a great skill for conditioning all parts of
the body. It increases coordination, rhythm, and timing with new
challenges. This is a skill that children can take with them in later
life. Both boys and girls are embracing jump roping.
Think Quest about the basics of jump rope
Jump Rope History
Jump Rope Skills
Healthy Heart in Jumping Rope Disciplinary Unit
Teaching Progression of skipping from the USA Jump Roping Team
Jump Rope Rhymes
Games Kids Play
Over 40 rhymes.
Balley, Guy Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book Educators
Balley, Guy Ultimate Sports Lead up Game Book Educators Press. 1999
Balley, Guy Ultimate Playground and Recess Game. Camas, WA: Educators Press,
Cole, Joanna. Anna Banana 101 Jump-rope Rhymes, Beech Tree Books, /New
Cheatham, Billye, Ann, Physical Activities for Improving Children’s Learing
and Behavior: a Guide to Sensory and Motor Development, Champaign, IL: Human
Gabbard, Carl Physical Education for Children: Building the Foundation,
Gallahue, David L. Developmental Physical Education for Today’s Elementary
School Children, Macmillan, 1987
Hall, J. Tillman Physical Education in the Elementary School, Goodyear
Panegyrize, Robert P. and Dauber, Victor P. Dynamic Physical Education for
Elementary School Children, Ninth Edition, Mac million Publishing Company,
Yule, Jane. Street Rhymes around the World, Wind song, 1992
Learning Company, Toddler’s Trio
Stewart, Georgiana Silly Willy Pre-jump Roping Skills. Kimbo Music
Jump rope Basics
Jump roping is a great skill for anyone to learn. We’ve long been told the
benefits of jump roping. Mark McGuire used jump roping to improve his speed
and skills in baseball while Emmitt Smith applied jump roping to practice
blocking and defending in football. Bruce Lee used jump roping as a martial
arts warm-up and as a training strategy to develop speed. Sugar Ray Leonard
and Muhammad Ali are famous boxers that used jump roping to improve their
power, agility and grace.
Roping involves variety of muscles and stabilization skills. It increases
balances and multidirectional movement. Jump roping increase explosiveness
of movement. It used leg muscles including the gastroneimus and soleus as
well as the biceps femoris. The quadriceps are exerted including the rectus
femoris, vastus laterals, vastus intermediacy, and vastus medialis. Gluteus
maximus, leg adductors, leg extensors, leg and foot flexors are also
recruited in this activity. The digits of the feet learn to move and work
better together. Roping teaches improvement in vertical and horizontal
leap, lateral shifting, and sprinting speed.
The muscles of the chest are worked such as the pectorals major and serratus
anterior. The back also has quite a workout in this activity. The upper
back of the trapeizus and lattissimus dorsi are worked and jump rope
improves arm movements including the wrist extensors, forearms, triceps
brachii, and biceps. The core is also positively affected. Jump roping
requires all lower and upper body muscles to work together simultaneously.
Roping conserves energy and expends a large amount of caloric burn in a
short time. Jumping rope is also effective for performing aerobic exercise
if done for ten minutes or more. You spend 10.2 calories per minute
jumping rope compared with the 4.2 per minute expended while walking. Jump
roping is recommended on a gym floor, wooden floor, artificial turf, sports,
baseball field, or grass. Students should have arms length or 3 feet on
either side of them and 2 feet overhead. Four to five feet should be
available both in front and behind the jumper. I often tell my students to
be at least arms length apart from each other in their lateral, posterior,
and anterior planes of movement.
Clothing should be comfortable but not baggy and hats or removable objects
should be removed before jumping. Comfortable shoes should be securely tied
before executing jumping movements.
Ropes are made for various purposes. Some of the types of rope include: the
leather rope, the licorice speed jump rope, beaded, rope master, nylon,
cotton, and speed ropes. The leather rope is used primarily for boxers and
has been around for almost 90 years. The licorice speed jump rope is used
for learning to jump rope. It does provide a completive advantage but can
instead be adjusted easily by tying knots at the handles.
The beaded rope is often used in schools and is designed for students
jumping on cement. They easily keep their shape but are dangerous when used
too close to another student. Other types of ropes included cotton or
nylon, which are considered poor for speed training, aerobic speed ropes for
power jumping, the rope master for teaching upper leg movements, and the
junior speed rope for younger athletes.
Ropes should be divided into half to measure the length against the height
of the jumper and should not go over the armpit. Ropes should go above the
jumper’s head at least two feet when it is in the air. Make sure when using
the rope each time that there are not cuts or holes in the rope. Ropes that
are not cared for properly should be disposed of promptly. When starting to
jump with the rope be sure to make sure that all knots are out and that the
rope is pointing in the same direction. Also, make sure your shoes are tied.
Your body position is very important to jumping. You must stand upright
with your head positioned squarely on your shoulders and your eyes focusing
straight ahead. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be
place, no wider than shoulder-width apart. Balance your body weight gently
on the balls of your feet. This gives you a readiness to jump with the rope
and has a good effect on your posture.
If you are practicing a specific move with your feet, try shadow jumping
first. This consists of jumping first and learning the move without the
rope. A correct grip is essential when using the jump rope. Hold your rope
with the thumb, index, and third fingers of each hand. Grasp the handle
with your thumb and index finger and wrap your hand around the handles.
Your grip should be comfortable but firm. Keep the ropes vertical and
toward the jumping surface, whether you are jumping forward or backward.
The biomechanics of the jump rope are fascinating. It is divided into three
phases: the loading phase, the flight phase, and landing phase. These
phases occur two or more times every second, if executed right. In the
loading phase, you begin by lifting your body off the ground a mere half
inch and remaining less than one inch every time the rope passes your
The flight phase contains a propulsion phase and an airborne phase.
Propulsion consists of a slight push from the ankles, calves, knees, and
hips. Push through the surface from the balls of your feet while pointing
your toes downward as you become airborne.
The landing phase consists of the knees, ankles, and hips spreading to
impact each jump over a longer time and distance. The jumper must land
softly on the balls of the feet and concentrate on staying less than an inch
off the ground in the landing phase.
It also allows the jumper to increase bone density and muscle recruitment.
It is important that the jumper concentrate on correct landing to avoid
injury. Repetition of the movements improves kinesthetic awareness by
improving rhythm, balance, time, and coordination.
Jumping rope while reciting proves to improve those students trying to
memorize spelling words, state capitals or other important factual
Next month, I will provide tips for warming up and cooling down when jumping
rope. For more information on jump roping, check out these sites or books
or consult my website on games and chants to use while jumping rope.
Jump to Warm-up Fun!
Warm ups are essential in any jumping workout program. Jump roping is a
total body exercise and it is important that all muscles be recruited in the
warm-up since the workout is a quick anaerobic and plyometric activity.
Flexibility is also important in jump roping. It helps elongate the muscles
and provide the tension that is essential to jumping rope. The following
provides a list of good warm-up exercises for jump roping.
March in Place
Place the jump rope in front of you and push it back and forth as you march
in place. Marching is a total lower body movement.
Stand up straight with your arms at your sides and your feet a little apart,
knees slightly bent. Make a small forward circle with both shoulders at the
same time. Continue to circle your shoulders forward five more times.
Then, circle your shoulders backwards. Be sure to stretch out your arms,
wrists and digits. Upper body strength is gained in the front and back
Stretch your waist, head, neck in a circular motion with the front, left,
right, back, and forward. Stretch out the arms with the palms facing toward
the person and flex wrists up and down. This exercise is great for the
Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel with your right foot forward, left knee back. Lean forward with your
hips facing forward, keeping your body upright. Bend over your right knee
and do not allow it go over your toe. Contract your buttocks under and
repeat for the other leg. This exercise stretches the inner and outer
Standing Calf Stretch
Stand with your hands about shoulder-width apart against the wall, left knee
bent, and right leg straight and extended back. Press the right heel into
the floor. Repeat with the left leg back. This is a great exercise for
the gastrocnemious, tibialis, peroneus longus, and the extensors and flexors
of the foot.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand with your right leg forward and left knee slightly bent. Bend at the
waist and reach both arms toward the left toe toward the fingers. This
motion recruits the biceps femoris and the sartorius muscles.
Stand up straight with your arms at your sides, your feet a little apart and
your knees slightly bent. Keep your body straight while raising your right
knee until you can grasp your just below the knee with both hands. Pull
your knee upward as high as you can toward the chest. If it hurts, you are
pulling your knee too high. Slowly lower your right leg to the starting
position. Raise and lower your left knee in the same way. Repeat the
exercise five times with each leg. This activity employs the thigh
abductors, flexors, and leg adductors and extensors.
Walk Like Spot
Stand up straight with your arms at your sides, feet a little apart. Lift
your right heel high off the ground, while keeping your right toes off the
ground. Your weight is on your left foot. As you lower your right heel to
the ground, lift the left foot high off the ground, keeping the left toes on
the ground. Your weight is on your left foot. Continue walking by
alternating your heels for one minute. The foot flexors and extensors are
Do not forget the next time you jump rope to warm-up first. Warm-ups will
lessen muscle soreness later and prevent injury.