Training Ground

The Ultimate Guide To Double Unders

The Ultimate Guide To Double Unders

This simple double unders guide will help you work through the little technical glitches that mess up your double unders!
Double unders can be one of the most frustrating workouts to use, but they are incredibly efficient when it comes to aerobic conditioning and stamina. Let’s be honest, using a skipping rope was only ever cool for boxers in the past. Otherwise, before CrossFit and other garage gyms re-popularized it as a viable and effective method of training, it was seen as a bit of a sissy activity!
Not anymore! Double unders, and even triple unders (we aren’t there, yet, don’t worry), are considered cool, smooth and sexy. The sound of a rope whipping around at rhythmical high speeds is a good thing! Just like any new technical movement, there is an initial learning curve. Unlike some of the other technical movements you learn at the gym, double unders cannot be done sloppily or half-zies. Scaling down a double-under is difficult as you have to actually do it in its entirety to get it!

The Elements To Wrap Your Head Around…

To get better at double unders, you need to perfect two elements. One is quality and timing of the jump, the other is handling the rope. There are a few steps you will need to master that we outline below!
Let’s start with a quick problem solve guide- these are the five classic errors we see with double unders:
Classic Error #1
Jumping from a narrow stance – feet glued together? Not optimal!
Fix: A simple fix… get used to jumping with your feet about shoulder width apart! You never jumped to great heights before with your feet glued so why would it be optimal now? Jump from a normal, comfortable stance and see what a difference it makes to your smoothness.
Classic Error #2
Letting your arms get away from you.
Fix: Keep your upper arms tight to your body! Falling into the trap of using your whole arm and shoulder to try to launch the rope is slow and inefficient. Get your elbows tucked tight and use the elbows and wrists to “flick” or “whip” the rope.
Classic Error #3
Wild feet or dolphin kicks – when you pike forwards or flip your feet back while in the air.
Fix: Don’t let your feet fly away! Pointing the toes too much into a hollow body jump is a waste of energy. The other classic is kick backs with the knees bending to bring the feet up and back an extra inch or two. It’s a huge waste of energy, and in the case of the kick backs, it puts you in a sub-optimal jump position to rebound back up from. You end up taking all this compression in the knees to make up for it. 
Classic error #4
Poor timing – when you are regularly stomping down on the rope at the same time it passes, or when you speed up your jump rhythm for no apparent reason.
Fix: This can be hard to fix in one session! Your timing is something you’ll need to practice frequently to make it more automatic and natural rather than a conscious effort. If your problem is timing, you can work on it a few minutes every time you go to WOD to perfect it. There are a few drills we will get into down below that you can try out to help with this!
Classic error #5
Wild rope work – flailing, whipping, bucking, changing ropes 10 times…
Fix: Stick with one rope! …It’s not the rope, it’s probably just you, sorry to say. Learn the balance, speed and weight on one single rope rather than any old thing you find on the rack. Each rope is different and you won’t be able to adapt to them quickly enough as a beginner.

Finally, don’t go nuts on your doubles. Be calm, relaxed and patient as you deal with your frustration. A relaxed body will move more smoothly and rhythmically, exactly what you need to get the movement.

Progressing Into Learning Your Double Unders

Drill 1: You might need to start by working without any rope at all! This is a drill to help you find the timing.

  • Stand with your arms at your sides and practice the timing and height of the jump you need.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and jump at a slow and steady pace, as high and straight as you can.
  • In the air, tap your hands twice at your sides.
  • Repeat 10 times without changing pace, and always tapping in the air (not when you land)
Drill 2: intermittent doubles
  • Use your rope and start singles.
  • Try to hit 3 singles, then one double, and return to 3 singles.
  • Learn to continue jumping smoothly after the double!
Drill 3: interval doubles – when you finally think you might have the doubles!
  • Start with an interval of 10 seconds of doubles, then 20 seconds of singles
  • Perform 15 seconds of doubles, then 15 seconds of singles
  • Perform 20 seconds of doubles, then 10 seconds of rest
  • Perform 30 seconds of doubles… then you’re a master!

Don’t forget that practice makes perfect! Play around with these drills frequently in order to get some solid practice in. Spending three to six minutes each day playing around with timing, rhythm and good technique is sure to lead to masterdom!

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Christie Leclair
Christie Leclair - Author

FD Bulsara, BSc is a competitive athlete in Olympic weightlifting and a student in Osteopathy. She coaches private and group fitness classes and freelance writing about her passions: fitness, health, sport, nutrition, weightlifting, CrossFit, injury prevention, pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and the latest research on all these topics! She is a dog person and spends free time training at the lake. Find her at

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