Turning is by far the most important part of Double Dutch, but I find that it is also the most neglected part. This neglect leads to most people having trouble ever getting a jumper in and therefore they quit. So lets break this fundamental skill down into some bit size pieces. Oh yeah…Do all these without a jumper. You need to be able to turn before you can have a jumper in the middle strutting there stuff. Ready?
Here are 7 tips to help you turn Double Dutch like a pro!
- Picking out the right ropes
When it comes to Double Dutch, there is no such thing as the perfect ropes, just what’s perfect for you. You can use cloth, beaded, speed, leather, etc. Every type has their pluses and minuses, but everyone will work. Try a few different types to find what feels most comfortable for you. The thing that is important is the length. When starting out, it’s best to use 12-14 foot ropes as they are long enough to easily fit a jumper in the middle, but not too long to introduce excessive fatigue when you’re first starting to turn Double Dutch. If you’re only practicing turning, you can get away with using 8-10 foot ropes to learn the turning skills, but when you’re ready to add a jumper you need to get up to at least a set of 12 footers.
Whatever length you choose, make sure that both ropes are the same length! If you practice with ropes that are way off, you’ll quickly develop some bad turning skills to compensate for the ropes.
Having good form is critical to mastering Double Dutch. You can start out turning with someone, but a quick drill that you can do just about anywhere by yourself is actually a great way to start. Find 2 pencils, sticks, jump rope handles or something similar. Just make sure they’re about the same size. Put one ‘handle’ in each hand and face a wall. Step close enough to it so that you can comfortably hold the handles in front of you with their ends barely touching the wall (quick pointer, I wouldn’t suggest doing this on a wall you really, really care about as it could possibly scratch it a bit). Keep your elbows in by your side and slowly ‘draw’ a circle on the wall with each hand.
You want your hands to be working oppposite of each other, so when one hand is up, the other is down. Also, you want your turning motion to be toward the center of your body for normal turning. You can turn the opposite direction for a different style of Double Dutch (Irish/Egg Beaters), but I would suggest starting with the regular style. The circle should go from about your chin to your waist line in height, but they shouldn’t overlap, the inside edges of the circles should just barely touch in the middle. Your handles should also never leave the wall. The point of this exercise is to familiarize yourself with turning circles and keeping your hands at the same distance from your body. If your hand goes in and out as you’re turning, it can make life very difficult for a jumper.
- The Thumb/Nose Paradigm
Once you’re ready to move away from the wall, a good way to continue good form is to practice touching your thumbs to your nose. The way we do this is by holding the handles/end of the rope in your hands, palms facing toward your body and then you stick your thumbs up. Starting with one hand (make sure your turning partner is using the same side, ie if I am turning with my right hand first, my partner is moving their left hand since we’re facing each other) bring your thumb up to your nose, lightly touch it, then bring your hand down to your waist, then back up to the nose and repeat. Remember that you’re making a circle with your hand while you’re doing this and that your hands are on opposites while you go, when one hand is up, the other is down. Wax on, wax off.
- Mirror, Mirror on the…
Symmetry is very important to making Double Dutch work well. Think of the center of your body as a mirror. Your hand should never cross the midpoint of your body and both hands are doing exactly the same thing, albeit at different times. It’s very common to see a new turner making a very good circle with one arm, but the other arm is really struggling. Both sides are very important and you need to make sure that you’re watching your form so that you start off on the right foot. Watch your partner as you’re turning and helpfully point out if you see them making different looking circles from their left to right side. Ask them to do the same for you.
- Ol’ Stumpy
Your leg position will help you greatly as you get into turning. Don’t stand with your feet together, otherwise you might find yourself tipping over or waving around as you’re concentrating on everything else you’re doing. It’s best to bring your feet about shoulder width apart as it will give you a good steady base to work off of.
- Can You Hear Me Now?
The best way to know if you’re turning correctly is to listen to the ropes. It’s very common to hear a galloping sound when you first start, this isn’t good. Turning Double Dutch correctly should make a very even, consistent sound as the ropes hit the floor. It should be 1-2-1-2-1-2 not 1—2-1—2-1, etc. Use your ears and make sure that the ropes are making a nice even sound as you go. Beaded jump ropes are the best type to use if you really want to hear the ropes as you turn Double Dutch.
- Go Speed Racer, Go
Turning speed can be one of the most frustrating things to figure out when you’re first starting. What’s correct? Well…that depends on the jumper. Everyone jumps at a different pace and it’s your responsibility to turn at whatever pace they’re going. Most new jumpers have a hard enough time jumping somewhat rhythmically that they can’t think about changing their jumping pace, so it’s up to you to turn Double Dutch at whatever pace they’re jumping. While you’re practicing at the beginning, it’s good to attempt turning at different speeds. Try to turn as slow as you can, then slowly speed up and go as fast as you can. The key to remember while doing this, make good circles! It’s very easy to start having bad form when you attempt to change pace so always listen and watch that you’re still using good turning form while practicing different speeds.
That should get you started with turning. These tips will help you get past some of the common mistakes that people make, but just like swimming, you have to jump in the water to actually learn. Don’t assume that just because you know how to do something, that you will immediately do it perfectly. Get out there and practice. 5-10 minutes a day and you should have the basic Double Dutch turning down in about a week or two.
If you really want to get good at this, practice with different people. Everyone starts out with their own quirks and if you always practice with the same person, you may just develop an opposing quirk to the person you’re working with where things are working fine, but you’re both doing something wrong. You’ll notice these quirks when you work with someone new. Turn with as many people as possible and this will force you to develop a good turning technique.
If reading all this makes you loopy and you need to watch it in action, jump over to our Double Dutch section of the site and watch the videos on beginner Double Dutch. We have hours of detailed instructional videos that will teach you how to turn Double Dutch like a pro in no time!
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