In Pursuit of Double Unders: Update!

Jump RopeLately, I haven’t posted very much about CrossFit, primarily because I have not been getting to the box nearly as often as I should due to an injury, as I wrote about a few weeks ago in my post on Dealing With Injury. I’d venture to say that I’ve probably spent about as much time hanging out with my fabulous chiropractor and my ridiculously amazing massage therapist trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again as I have with my coaches and CrossFit On Track friends.  Fortunately, I am now at a point where I’m cutting my chiro and massage time in half, which leaves me able to start scaling my workouts back up – huzzah!

Last Monday, I was able to get to CrossFit for the first time in over a week.  The workout in question looked pretty good to me when I read it on my box’s facebook page – mostly because it didn’t involve sprinting or a ton of overhead lifting, which I still have to be very cautious about.  The main things I was worried about were just generally having the endurance to do CrossFit class since my attendance has been irregular and working on double unders, because I had never achieved one and honestly, the past few weeks I’ve been in such a slump that my ability to do single unders hasn’t been up to snuff either.

For those of you unfamiliar with double unders, they are a jump rope trick in which you pass the rope under your feet not once, but twice before landing back on the ground.  When you run across someone who can do them properly, it is almost mesmerizing to watch them. I wrote about my desire to learn double unders a few months back right here, during a period when I had been doing very well with single unders and with progressing in CrossFit in general.  Shortly after that post, a combination of the 100 Day Pushup Challenge, the holidays, and Life In General intervened, and I stopped working on my double under practice.

On the fateful day in question, we weren’t just tasked with doing some double unders as part of our WOD.  Instead, this work was woven all throughout out entire class. The class plan as posted involved 6 minutes of double under practice during warm up time, a skills/strength session on double under technique, and then a WOD that included double unders.   Given that I hadn’t attempted double unders for about 6 weeks prior to last Monday’s workout so I was expecting this to be a bust at best, and an embarrassment at worst.

First, the warm up.  The class was full, and I don’t have my own speed jump rope because I keep forgetting to buy one so the first project was snagging a rope that would work.  Since the first step in working on double unders is to get in your groove for single unders, I started doing just that. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was going to have one of those dadgum days where I couldn’t even get a single under write. It was awful – I  get 10 single unders in a row to save my life.  It felt like one of those situations when you go to the office to do your corporate blue collar job, only to find that for whatever reason you should have stayed in bed because you can’t remember how to type properly that day. Seriously, any 7 year old girl in America who saw how crappy I was doing on those single-unders  would have been embarrassed to acknowledge that I am a fellow female, it was that bad.  I did my best, though – meaning I suffered through 6 minutes of horrible single under practice and didn’t even attempt any double unders.  To add insult to injury, people all around me who were much newer to CrossFit than I were doing just fine getting some double unders thankyouverymuch.

When the six minutes were over, I moved on to the other components of my warm up – six minutes of rowing and six minutes of kettlebell swings, pushups, and ring rows.  I enjoyed the twelve-ish minutes of reprieve from embarrassment enormously, but all too soon, I was summoned to double under skills practice.

I was expecting this skills instruction to be pretty much what I’d seen before from my coach, but this week, I was pleasantly surprised that he explained the double under progression in a new way.  All by itself, this explanation made me a little more excited to try working on my double unders again. The progression he explained went something like this:

1) Get your single unders. Well, I don’t have the 60-100 single unders in a row that I used to but even on a crappy day I definitely have this skill.  Yay!

2) Do your single unders FAST.  This is a piece of advice that I struggle with.  I *can* do my single unders pretty fast but I have to really focus on it, and I can’t do them for very long.  But this is something I am at least somewhat comfortable with, so I gave it a whirl and fortunately did a little better than I did during my warm up. Yay, again!

3) Do your single unders HIGH.  In other words, take  a taller jump while practicing single unders.  Note that I didn’t say high and fast at the same time just yet.  You have to be able to go fast, then you have to be able to go high separately.  During this period of instruction, I was watching my coach and other classmates who I know can double under well in between my own attempts, and learned that people who have mastered double unders only go a little higher on their doubles than they do on their singles because it’s more efficient.  This was an interesting revelation.

4) Do your single unders FAST and HIGH, and shoot for a double under! This is where I figured I would fail, mostly because on my double under attempts in the past I’d been going too high and also because I hadn’t figured out how to be super fast with the turning the rope – the rope turns is all in the wrist and hand, and if you get any shoulder into it you’ve already lost.  But since I had done OK – not great, but OK – on the rest of the progression I decided to really give it a shot.

And you know what?

I did it. I actually got a double under for the very first time!

I was so stunned by the fact that I did it that a freaked out a little and dropped the rope.  It was a bit of a surreal moment, honestly – there are so many CrossFit skills that I am not even strong enough to begin to attempt, but I finally successfully hit a skill that stumps a lot of people.  That’s pretty dadgum exciting. If I were in elementary school, I’m pretty sure this achievement would have warranted a gold star or a sticker of some sort.

During the rest of double under practice, I didn’t get any more double unders, which was a little disappointing, but OK since we only had about 3 more minutes to work on this before we had to start the next thing.  And during the WOD, I actually chose not to attempt double unders because my coach suggested that anyone who couldn’t do at least 5-6 double unders in a row should do tuck jumps and single unders instead of the double unders.  But that’s OK with me – in CrossFit, scaling is the name of the game and we don’t do CrossFit because it’s all expected to come easily to us – we do it because it’s a challenge.

It may sound silly to a lot of people to be excited about doing something like a double under exactly one time, but to me it’s more than just a single successful attempt.  It’s proof that even little old me, who is heavier and less athletic than average CrossFit athlete, and who is currently out of her routine, can beat my own expectations if I give it the old college try.

And that, my friends, is worth a million double unders in a row.

One response to “In Pursuit of Double Unders: Update!

  1. Bravo on your double-under. You have every right to feel great about it. Give it time, and you’ll get multiple double-unders.


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