Jump Rope Jamboree: Youth Training!

Christina Lee Steele Chapan, ACE CPT ACE CPT
M.A. Education Curriculum and Instruction
B.S. Elementary Education

Jump roping is a great skill for children to learn. In the following article, I will give you a brief overview of the history of the jump rope. In the second section there will be some hints for teaching the beginner or an advanced learner. In the last part of my essay I would recommend to use with your clients while teaching this skill.

Jumping rope is a minimal time, high calorie burning exercise. In fifteen to twenty minutes jumpers can burn minutes the calories in a candy bar. This exercise teaches coordination, balance, and flexibility. It is an all body workout with the upper and lower muscle groups. Indirectly, it also teaches the body to balance with the mind.

Originally, like most sports, jump roping was a boys’ game. Brave girls of the 1850’s decided to give jump roping a try. Scientific experts at the time said that the “girls would become tired and have blood vessels burst in their brains.” “What could become more unladylike than falling down in a bloody heap on the front lawn.” Those brave tomboys proved the experts wrong. Things changed in the 20th century when Muhammad Ali highlighted jump roping as a part of his training. His accessibility to competitive sports lead to acceptance of cultural and non-gender jump roping. Today, many male and female bodybuilders use it as a cardiovascular part of their training routine.

Jump ropes are a great choice for fitness training because they are inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. Jumping can happen virtually anywhere inside or outside. Little space is needed for basic jumping skills. Children of all ages and skill levels find numerous ways to use the rope. I have recently rediscovered the joys of jumping and have added it in my training with elementary children.

When I teach jump roping I usually start with free play. As I begin instruction, I have them jump as high as they can and then as low as they can. Primarily, I teach on a hard surface and I ask them to jump hard and soft on that surface. We discuss which type of jumping is the easiest to perform. Next, we talk about posture and show the differences of jumping straight, crooked, slanted, etc. If you jump low, soft and stand straight, you will be a successful jumper. I emphasize as well the following:

· Adjust the rope by holding the handles and stepping on the rope.
· Jumpers should put their hands down beside and slightly out from their bodies.
· Don’t have your hands by your shoulders.
· Shorten the rope so the handles reach your armpits.
· Arms need to be fairly straight and relaxed.
· Wear properly fitted athletic shoes, preferably cross-training shoes. ( Many children wear inappropriate footwear and can injure themselves or lessen their ability levels)
· At first, use beaded ropes for beginners because they hold their shape and are easier to control than a lightweight rope.
· See how many times the jumper can consecutively jump without missing.
· Focus on concentration while performing the jumping skills. If I am working with lower elementary students, I try to have them make shapes and letters to jump in, out and to the left and right of the shape or letter. This also teaches children the concept of letters, shapes, directions, and patterns. Students can also make a group word and jump on their friend’s letters.

Here are some group readiness games I would recommend to beginning middle elementary students.

· JUMP A STATIONARY ROPE – The rope is stretched out across the floor. The jumpers line up and jump the rope one at a time on a signal. As the jumper approaches the rope he plants both feet together and broad jumps across the rope. Cue: take off on 2 feet and land on 2 feet.

· JUMP THE SNAKE – Rope turners crouch or kneel and wiggle the rope from side to side, (no more than 12 inches). Jumpers take off and land as they did with a stationary rope. The goal is to avoid touching the rope.

· SIDE SWING- Fold the rope in half and turn around with your body in a circular fashion. Have the partner jump over the rope as it goes around in a circle.

· SIDE STEP SIDEWARD- Again fold the rope in half with both hands to one side of the body. Swing the rope to the left side of the body and then the right side. Jump over the rope as it touches the left and then the right side of the body.

· STRADDLE JUMP-Alternate…. a regular jump with a straddle jump. The straddle jump has the feet spread to shoulder width.

· SKIER- The skier is a double-foot jump similar to a technique used by skiers. The jumper stands on both feet on a line. Jumping is down sideways back ad forth over the line. Children should also try it in a backward and forward direction.

· HEEL TOE- The Heel-toe, as the rope passes under the feet, the jumper jumps with the weight landing on the right foot while touching the left heel forward. On the next turn of the rope, he humps lands on the same foot, and touches the left toe beside the right heel. This pattern is done again with the opposite foot bearing the weight.

· JUMP ROPE RHYMES - Rhymes or chants work well with small or large group activities. Here are a few choices for everyone to join in and keep the whole group interested and on task.

(1) I love apples, red and green
Tasty fruit is fit for a queen.
Let us pick some from the tree
You can eat them along with me.
How many apples can we eat?
1, 2, 3, 4...

(2) Salute to the Captain
Bow to the Queen
And turn your back
On the dirty submarine

(3) 1 and 1 are 2
2 and 2 are 4
4 and 4 are 8

(4) Mother, Mother, I am ill.
Call the doctor over the hill.
In came the doctor.
In came the nurse
In came the lady
With the alligator purse.
“Measles,” said the doctor.
“Mumps,” said the nurse.
“Nothing,” said the lady
With the alligator purse

(5) Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Go upstairs!
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light,
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,

As shown above, jump roping can also teach academic skills such as memorizing spelling words, states, and math.

In conclusion, jump roping is a great skill for conditioning all parts of the body. It increases coordination, rhythm, and timing with new challenges. This is a skill that children can take with them in later life. Both boys and girls are embracing jump roping.

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