Speed jumping is a calorie crusher and an awesome way to get in a quick workout. What is it? Essentially, speed jumping (or "skipping") is a lightning fast jog step. It’s one of the core disciplines of jump rope competitions and a great way to work up a quick sweat.
What does it look like? Watch Jave Eve put together a world speed skipping record below.
The best “speed skippers” in the world make about 7 jumps a second. Last year at the World Jump Rope Championships in Hong Kong, Zongfei Duan of China set a new world record with 210 jumps in 30 seconds.
While you might not get to the level of Jake or Zongfei, you can certainly learn to become a proficient speed jumper. As a former national champion speed jumper myself, and a coach to a number of national speed jumping champions (and a world record holder), here are the three primary techniques I preach when people ask me how to increase their skipping speed.
Simply, speed beats are audio tracks that set a jumping pace. It’s a technique pioneered by Chinese speed skipping teams who are using it to incredible success. Speed beats can be downloaded as an mp3 and played via your headphones or on any digital music player.
How it works: You match your steps with the beat. As your speed improves, you continually increase the speed of the beats and try to follow along. For example, if you’re hoping to achieve 100 jumps in 30 seconds, you would probably start at a lower setting like 60 jumps / 30 seconds. As your speed and comfort increased, you would slowly ratchet up the pace until you reach that 100 jumps / 30 seconds track. Have the beat helps you keep track of you pace instead of "guessing" as you're going along.
I like to refer to speed balls as my "secret weapon" when I was training as a competitive speed jumper. This ropeless jump rope has long been used by the fastest jumpers in the world to increase arm strength and coordination, but it is a system that's still relatively unknown out of speed jumping circles.
My experience using: As I trained for speed competitions, I realized I was extremely right hand dominant. As my speed scores increased, my left hand struggled to keep up with the pace and I plateaued. I started using the speed balls to improve coordination and strength in my right arm, and my scores improved dramatically.
How it works: Competitive jumpers will tell you that it’s the arms that wear out while speed jumping, not your legs. Speed balls allow you to work on your arm strength and endurance without the worry of stepping on or tripping up the jump rope. Also, the cords won’t spin properly or in unison if you have poor form, forcing an improvement in hand coordination.
Use a Fast Rope!
Using a specialized "speed rope" will make a huge difference in your speed scores. Standard licorice or beaded ropes are much to slow, simply because the rope can't cut through the air fast enough.
The fastest speed ropes feature a bare cable wire that has weight, aerodynamics and the stiffness to spin as fast as your wrists will turn it. (Be warned: the bare wire cable definitely stings, and will leave a mark, if you miss and whip a bare leg or arm.)
How it works: In speed jumping, arm fatigue is your biggest enemy. Ropes like the Ultra Light are designed for speed. Look for these features:
- Bare wire cable: As described above, bare wire cables are simply the fastest "ropes" out there.
- Light weight: Handle weight has a big effect on arm fatigue, the chief enemy when speed skipping. Look for a rope that weighs less than 4 oz (the above mentioned "ultra light" rope + cable weighs only 2.4 oz).
- Handle angle: Find a jump rope that attaches the cable to the handle at a 90 degree angle. This make your arm position and rope spin much more efficient than ropes that stick out the ends of the handle.
- Ball bearings: Jump ropes like the Elite Surge feature ball bearings in the handle, which helps reduce friction as the rope spins, making a quick spin more effortless. Effortless spin = less arm fatigue and faster top-end speed.
About the Author
Matt Hopkins is a former competitive speed jumper and jump rope coach. Matt has won numerous national championships in speed jumping, and his athletes have won several national speed and freestyle titles and have broken world and national speed records. He also taught middle and elementary school PE in Leavenworth WA for 23 years.