As a PE teacher for 23 years and a competitive jump rope coach for 10 years, I had plenty of opportunities to work with young children teaching them to jump rope. Here are a few strategies I used when teaching kids to starting jumping.
Set Up for Success
- Pick the right rope. I recommend starting with a beaded rope. These are ultra durable for using on any surface, and they make a "tick tick" sound that's helpful for practicing timing. Kids also seem to love the bright colors.
- Get the size right: Make sure the rope is the correct size. A rope that is too long or too short will be tricky to learn with. I'd recommend starting with a rope that is easy to resize, and buying a size longer than you think you need. You can easily resize down using the guide below.
- Jump in: It would be even more motivational if you jumped with your child and made it a family activity.
Teach “Correct Sizing”
Stand on middle of jump rope with both feet. The ends of the handles should come near the armpit. A little longer or smaller is fine; it doesn’t have to be perfect, just close.
If using a rope with long (6" or more) handles the end of the handles would come near the top of the shoulders.
Demonstrate Proper Form
It is always helpful learning a new skill if you know what it looks like when it is done correctly. Show an example of jumping rope with proper form. If you are not able to demonstrate, you and your child can take a look at this video.
- Proper form will have the hands holding the handles just infant of your hip bones.
- The turn of the rope is done mostly by wrists with slight movements of the elbow. The only time you might use more of an arm movement would be the very first turn of the rope.
Avoid These Mistakes
- Avoid jumping with hands out too wide. This makes the rope much too short and looks very funny. (Demonstrate for fun)
- Using the wrong size jump rope can leads to discouragement and frustration.
The Best Teaching Methods
Have your child hold an imaginary rope in their hands and pretend to turn the rope under their feet every time it would hit the ground. First, pretend to put the rope behind them and hold hands infant of their hips. This is called “ready position”. Use the wrists and elbows to pretend to turn the rope over their head and jump when the rope would be hitting the ground.
Do this 10-20 times.
This activity will help establish muscle memory skills and proper coordination. When first learning, some children make the mistake of jumping too soon. Explain that they need to wait for the rope to descend closer to their feet before they jump.
Revert back to this method if your child is getting frustrated. It would be a good daily review before they begin working with an actual jump rope.
This next technique is used to teach proper turning motion. Place the actual rope behind their feet and close to their heals. Begin by turning the rope overhead and catch the rope under the toes. Keep hand position near front of the hips.
Note: The very first turn of the rope takes a little more arm action than the following jumping will need. But after the initial first turn, the rope will rotate mostly from the wrists with a little bit of help from the elbow. Practice this over and over.
Have your child get in ready position. Turn the rope over their head and see if they can do one jump. Remind them that the rope is only a 1/4 “ thick, so that don’t have to jump very high.
After they can do one jump, challenge to see if they can do two jumps. Then three jumps? And so on. Remember practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Most of all have fun. Jumping rope is a great way to laugh and get a wonderful workout together with your family.
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.