Jumping rope is visually appealing and children are often drawn to the activity early on, but can easy give up if it’s too difficult. Typically students are developmentally ready to START learning to jump rope in 1st grade. Some students are ready earlier.
As educators, we work to develop interest and enthusiasm by implementing lessons and primers that will develop confidence, coordination, proper jumping technique and ongoing interest. Some kids may take to it naturally while others struggle. Some helpful coaching, smart sequencing and slow progressions can make a big difference early on. Jumping rope is a wonderful working metaphor for goal setting, effort, avoiding comparisons and perseverance. If we can help children develop these attributes, our job as parents and educators becomes more meaningful, effective and long lasting. Emphasize effort. Results will follow. Tips on working with young jumpers:
- Keep activity bouts short.
Introduce a few activities that last only 3 or 4 minutes each. The entire lesson should not be more than 15 minutes for students aged 4-6. Leave them wanting more.
- Give clear specific instructions, step-by-step.
Students respond very well to instructions, but many educators and parents deliver too much information early on. This can result in confusion and frustration. If you are uncertain about how to teach a particular skill or action, take a moment and analyze exactly what you are trying to achieve, and break that down into small, achievable chunks. My lessons are always fragmented bits of a general concept. In doing so, I can focus on “frequent small successes” and help my students identify the areas where they are making progress.
Early on it’s important to keep it simple. The aim here is not for our children to be jumping rope right away. We are helping to build confidence, and positive attitudes toward physical activity. Lessons should be clear, simple and build on prior knowledge.
- Make it fun.
Use of music, goal charts, and games can entice our young jumpers. And if you are enjoying yourself and staying positive, it’s likely so will your students will too.
Children need role models. When adults attempt new things, and set new goals for ourselves, our children see that. They learn from the examples we set and learn how to respond to adversity, challenges and successes. So, grab a rope, and be willing to try your best, so your children can see what that looks like. Simple Activities and Primers
- Circle IN, OUT and AROUND
Each student gets a rope approx. 7-8′ in length. Make a circle with your rope on the ground. (doesn’t need to be perfect) Stand inside your jump rope with a strong straight body: Arms straight, legs straight, feet together. (Pencil body) Maintain a pencil body and jump to the rhythm of my clapping. Teacher to clap 8 times in a steady beat. Repeat til it feels right. Jump OUT of the circle Jump IN Jump OUT (teacher to then change cadence) FREEZE Run around your circle xxx times and sit inside your circle when you are done. Variations: Add music 130-140 BPM Start and stop music to indicate activity start and stops. Vary the instructions – Jump IN, IN, IN, OUT, Around…. Area of focus: Feet together, warming up jumping muscles, arms staying relaxed by the sides. Soft landing, knees slightly bent. Now progress to line jumps.
- Line Jumps
Make a LINE with your rope (doesn’t need to be perfect) Point your toes to your rope (face your rope) Jump OVER Jump BACK Jump OVER Jump BACK – now vary cadence FREEZE Progress to Eagle, Ready Position and Swing and Catch.
- Eagle, Ready Position, Swing and Catch
Eagle Pose: Handle in each hand, rope behind feet. Arms down low and stretched out straight (like a soaring eagle) Ready Position: From eagle pose, stretch arms out in front of you, and touch your handles together. Rope should pull tight against back of legs. Swing and Catch: From ready position, scoop arms down, then around and over head to spin the rope. Let it stop in front of the feet. Now reverse so it goes over your head backwards. Continue to warm up the arm action required to spin the rope. (This motion action is hardest to develop. Add more drills as time permits) See “swing and catch over a cone” in the drills section. Common Errors: Students will start the rope with their hands by their shoulders. Remind them to do eagle and ready position to start.
- Rainbow Jumps
Grab your jump rope and put a handle in each hand. Swing your rope over your head and let it hit the ground.(rainbow) Jump OVER (Make a clear distinction between the moment to swing, and then the jump. For now, they should be two different movements) Now try, rainbow, jump over, rainbow jump over (linking the two movements) NOTE: This is where students may develop some frustration. So be sure to model the slow pace of rainbow first, then jump over. Common Mistakes: Students may jump and spin the rope at the same time. Remind them to spin first, jump AFTER the rope hits the ground. Common Mistake 2: Students may try and whip the rope to go under their feet after it hits the ground, thereby smacking their shins. Cue them to slowly glide the rope along the ground, or to simply move their body to the rope to jump over. NOTE: This phase is not to look like a full swing and jump. We are still developing our coordination of spinning the rope over our head, then jumping over it AFTER it’s hit the ground. Some children may advance to rope jumping while others will struggle, so keep bouts very short – 3 minutes or less.
- 2 Jump Challenge
This is the phase where students will try and link their jumps together – one, and then another. For beginners, encourage them to stop after 2 jumps and reset in ready position. Provide massive encouragement and praise for linking 2 jumps. NOTE: If you are working with a full class of children, this is where it usually gets a little sticky. While some will struggle, others will be ready to progress. So your delivery of content and words of encouragement will be really important now. Offer variations, energy, enthusiasm and support. Some students may start to try skills beyond their abilities and others may show frustration. Your expert coaching skills will be essential to maintain an energized program.
- Add Variety
The following skills are very “success-oriented” and can attempted by very young jumpers to keep things interesting: 1 foot 2 jump challenge Backwards 2 jump challenge Walk the Dog One Arm Forward Swing Blender Helicopter Squat Jump (See Highlight Videos for some skill demonstrations or order your own Skill Builders System by Ropeworks for complete access to all 92 instructional videos, skill cards, posters and teachers manual)
Work at your own pace! I talk often with my students, regardless of age and ability about the importance of setting and working toward individual goals, and taking things one step at a time. As a matter of fact, this also comes into play to a certain degree during corporate coaching, team building and athletic training too. It’s evident early on that children learn to compare and compete. It’s a natural part of our development and all kids do this to a certain extent. I believe that it’s our job as parents and educators to help children navigate this. We can’t change the fact that kids are competitive or feel a sense of disappointment when they don’t size up, but we can teach them the importance of goal setting, effort, and avoiding comparisons. The more comfortable, energized and positive environment you create, the more likely your students will come back excited to work on new goals. The areas that I focus on in order to create a work oriented environment are:
Goal Setting: I often ask the group “Has anyone met a personal goal today?” instead of asking “Who can jump rope 10 times without a miss?” This helps students remember to focus on their individual achievements and build on them.
Avoid Comparisons: I start every jump rope season with a discussion on how we are ALL different. We come from different experiences, some people have tried jumping rope, while others haven’t spent much time trying it out yet. We may find some things more challenging than others – and that is simply OK. We are all different. I make a point of saying this often.
Mistake are OK. Every time you make a mistake, you learn. You adjust, and continue until it works out just right. The more you try, and the more mistakes, the more your body and mind learn to work it out and solve the problem. Giving up robs us the opportunity to learn further. So, even if you mess up, pick up, and keep on trying. The more you do it, the better you get.
Drills for Young Jumpers
Swing and Catch a Cone Line up 4-6 cones approx. 5 feet apart. Students to stand facing the cone with their rope. Stand in eagle, then ready position. Now swing the rope over your head and try to catch the cone. Now go down the line to the next cone. Can you catch all 5 cones?
Swing and Catch a Friend Same as Swing and Catch a Cone, but try and swing it over a friends head. Can your friend catch the rope under their toes?
Buddy Jumping Same as Swing and Catch a Friend, but can your buddy jump the rope when it hits the ground? Other Fun Activities Taped hula hoops on the ground. Students perform locomotor activities while the music plays. Find a hoop to do 8 pencil jumps inside when the music stops/starts etc. Hula Hoop Jumps: Since hula hoops are more rigid, they can spin easier for youth. Try to spin and jump a hula hoop Tape lines (painters tape) on the ground varied distances apart. Try and take off and land on two feet over the lines. Team Jump – Teams of six students alternate jumping until fatigued. Use jump stations. Post an image of a skill to try at each station. (use Ropeworks Skill Cards if you own our Skill Builders System)
Teach Me: Students choose a skill from a pile. Try to learn the skill then teach another student. I’m a veteran rope jumper with over 35 years experience jumping rope. I have traveled the world performing, competing coaching and teaching. I love sharing the benefits of the single best fitness tool available – the jump rope. My highly acclaimed teaching methods help anyone learn how to break skills down so that students of all levels find the joy of rope jumping for fun and fitness. My new Single Rope Skill Builders System is an incredible integrated teaching tool for educators or anyone working with youth. It includes 92 instructional videos, 6 skill posters, 108 skill cards, a teachers manual and membership to a private teachers page on facebook for ongoing support and ideas.