30 Day Challenge: Double Unders – A review

Approximately 30 days ago (no shit Sherlock), CrossFit London SE11 launched 5 challenges: 30 days to improve on . The options where Squat (led by Rachel), Thoracic mobility (by Chris), Ring Dip (by Carolyn), Handstand (by Kat) and Double Unders (by Colin).

My squats are pretty good and so are my ring dips. Thoracic mobility could always improve and so are my handstands (especially free standing ones), but I really suck at double unders so I signed up under Colin’s group and got to work. We started on singles which was great as I had a chance to feel what my body was doing and improve on my body positioning. My single unders improved massively as I was able to string more than 100 after the first week.

We then moved on to the power jump, still doing singles, to get a feel of how high you need to jump.
Once we’ve settled with that movement it was time to attempt doing a double under on the power jump. The key was to do ‘single-single-double’. I noticed that while I couldn’t go on with this pattern forever (I trip up before getting 10 doubles), all the effort on doing singles allowed me to reduce the variables and determine where I could be doing wrong. With the help of Magnus’ post, the emails from the support group and a face to face discussion and some rope fun with the gang, I was able to manage 20+ consecutive double unders! Hooray!

Apparently its all just about jumping and spinning the rope twice under the feet! Who knew?

Key points that worked for me:
1. Relax – especially the shoulders, knees and ankles. You need to be able to bounce like a spring.

2. Wrist movement – Biggest thing for me, after some thought and watching other people do doubles, I realized I was spinning my wrist in an arc rather than moving it in a line fast (a flick basically). It didn’t matter whether it was a vertical flick, horizontal flick or a weird figure-of-8. Minimizing the time to generate the force to whip the rope around seems to be the common theme there.

3. Slow the fuck down – contrary to the nature of double unders (quick rope speed) the slow power jump is essential to get enough clearance and time for the rope to go around twice. Intentional powerful jumps provide adequate time for your double under business.

Putting it all together requires a bit of imagination which worked with quite a few of the folks. To each their own, but my imagery is that of Tigger with his ‘boing… boing… boing’. In my head, I think ‘boing…flick-flick…boing…flick-flick…boing…flick-flick…’.

I have yet to test it out again and see how far I can go, but the last 30 days have been quite an eye opener. As Colin said, double unders are quite difficult to teach and I would agree. There is no one template that will magically give you this particular skill. But rather some practice plus a few tips here and there in a progressive manner does get you there.