Jumping rope is a healthy exercise that requires minimal equipment and space. The American Heart Association recommends jumping rope as a cardiovascular exercise. Jumping rope also teaches coordination, is relatively low impact, and uses most of the body in the process. Experienced jumpers can add variety by jumping rope to jingles or music, adding fancy moves and trying different styles such as skipping rope, double Dutch or Chinese jump rope. It also can be a group activity.
Prepare the rope and find a good place to practice. The rope can be a jump rope from the store or it can be a length of clothes line or similar material. It needs to have enough weight to swing overhead easily and be made of a material that won't hurt if it strikes a leg or arm. The jump rope area should have a resilient surface such as a wooden gym floor and should be free of obstructions. This includes over-head space.
Teach the child to hop with both feet. Have your child stand with feet side by side, shoulder-width apart. Her back should be straight and relaxed, eyes straight ahead, hands by sides. The child should be able to jump straight up about 6 inches and land back in the same spot or close to it. Once the basic hop is mastered, teach your child to hop-bounce. The hop-bounce will help them time the rotation of the jump rope.
Learn to swing the rope. Show your child how to hold the jump rope handles in "shake hands" position. Position the rope with the loop behind the child, handles in each hand, with hands positioned on each side, with thumbs pointing out. Have the child bring the jump rope up over her head, and make it land in front of her. Once that is mastered, have her bring it over and capture the loop of the rope under her toes.
Jump the rope. Once the child has mastered hopping and swinging the rope, have her try to jump it. At first, have her make just one jump at a time. Then add the hop-bounce she learned earlier. The rope passes under her feet on hop, she bounces as it goes over her head, and then jumps over as it reaches her feet.
Learning to Jump in Groups
Teach the children to hop-bounce, just as in the first step for learning to jump alone. You can even encourage some fun with it by having competitions, reciting rhymes or jumping to music. When you select a space for the jump rope activity, it needs to be large enough for two children to hold a long rope between them. The rope needs to be 12 to 15 feet long, or long enough to easily clear the tallest child's head when turned.
Place the jump rope on the ground or floor, and have the children take turns hop-bouncing back and forth over it. Select teams of two, and have the teams practice swinging the rope gently back and forth in a cradle-rocking motion, then turning it in an over head arc so that it just touches the surface with a slight "thump." Discourage turning the rope really fast, or "hot peppers" as it is called by experienced jumpers.
Jumping the rope is the next step. Have the jumper stand next to the rope, at its lowest point, between the two turners. Have the turners swing the rope in the cradle-rocking motion until the jumper can easily jump the rope several times using the hop-bounce timing method. Some jumpers might prefer to "skip" the rope or hop over it going from one foot to the other. The skipping step can also be used in overhand jumping. When the child has mastered jumping the cradle swing, turn the rope over head. Focus on learning to jump one turn at a time, then several in succession.
Fancy Steps for Experienced Jumpers
Double Dutch is an advanced jump rope skill for both the jumper and the turner. Two ropes are used. The turners need to have one rope at the apex of its turn, while the other one is at the bottom. Jumpers need to have mastered the skill of "running in" to enter the turning ropes. Even at a slow speed, the pace is equivalent to a quick turn pace with a single rope. Skipping rope is often the step used for double Dutch, rather than the hop-bounce.
Chinese jump rope uses an elastic loop held around the feet of two playmates. The jumper skips over the elastic rope in a series of dance-like moves to a chant sung by the group. The objective is to be able to complete a complex pattern without "missing" or failing to complete the pattern correctly. There are at least seven distinct jump rope patterns for Chinese jump rope. It can be played with the rope at a variety of heights and widths.
Ankle skip ball uses a rope that has a ball attached to one end and a loop or bracelet that goes around the jumpers ankle on the other end. The jumper swings the weighted rope in a circle, using centrifugal force to swing it under the other foot. To prepare for this, the child needs to be able to hop on one foot for at least three times in succession. Once the child has mastered doing this with one foot, encourage her to try it with the other foot.
Items you will need
- Jump rope
- Resilient surface
- Clear area
- Encourage children to be aware of how the ropes can trip up jumpers, particularly during group play.
- Discourage using the jump ropes for other activities such as pretend reins for horses.
- Never allow children to tie the ropes around their necks.
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