Learning how to size a jump rope is a fundamental skill you need right from the beginning. There is a bit of nuance based on the type of rope that you are using, but our general guideline is a great place to start with all ropes.
The (Almost) Universal (Quick and Easy) Way to Size a Jump Rope
A proper jump rope length is determined by standing on the middle of the rope with both feet. When you pull the handles up, the ends should reach the bottom of your arm pits.
Back in my teenage days, when I would perform with a group of top jumpers from around the US, this was the rule. If you were ever caught with a rope that was too short, it was an instant 1,000 double under fine. Another great incentive, if we ever missed during a show…1,000 double under fine per mistake!
I wish I could just leave it there, but I do have to list some caveats. This is the perfect size if you’re using a plastic style jump rope with short handles (which is what we used to only jump with). With age comes wisdom and since I’ve been jumping rope professionally since 1997, I have adjusted my stance on the issue.
If you have long handles on a plastic rope? A little bit longer is usually necessary. If you’re using a beaded rope, you might prefer it to be a little bit shorter. Mine is slightly above the halfway point between my waist and shoulders. A beaded rope with long handles? That’s going to be a different length, longer than a short handled one. A wire rope with ball bearing handles? That depends on how fast you want to go and how good your technique is.
With so many variables to work with, how does one size a jump rope? Below are my general guidelines for different types of jumping.
Peter’s Rules for Jump Rope Length
1. If you’re learning new skills, follow the universal rule.
Having a rope that is longer will give you some wiggle room to work through the learning process and will make life easier.
2. If your rope bounces a lot when it hits the ground, shorten it.
A rope that is too long for your technique will hit the ground far enough in front of you that it will bounce up and cause you to miss. The easiest way to spot this is to have someone watch from the side (or video it) and just see what the rope is doing. Tie a knot to shorten it a little bit at a time. Don’t cut it until you’re sure that’s the length you want to live with.
3. If all you care about is going fast (like Ricky Bobby), use a short rope.
Most good speed and double under jumpers use a rope that’s around their waist height. The downside is that you will get hit in the back of the head if you miss or your technique isn’t perfect. Start longer and gradually shorten it until you get to your sweet spot.
**side story: When we competed in Double Dutch speed, we started with 16 foot ropes (which is way too long). Only after we could complete a full 2 minutes with no mistakes were we allowed to cut 6 inches off the length. This forced us to get in sync with each other and paid off when we won every speed event at the competitions. Plus we found that we actually preferred slightly longer ropes than everyone else.
4. Heavier ropes are usually shorter than lighter weight ones.
My beaded ropes are always shorter than my plastic ones. However, if I’m using a wire rope, it’s the shortest of them all. This is because they are designed to go fast and you want them short.
5. Long handle ropes are usually longer than short handled jump ropes.
At first glance, this might seem like it’s backward. However, a long handled rope changes the arc that the rope creates. And if you’re measuring to the end of the handle, that longer handle shortens the actual amount of rope connected to it. Your preference may end up being that you like a shorter rope, but start with it on the long side.
It’s easier to shorten a rope than to make one longer!
To finish off our journey, that’s probably the best thing to remember. If you’re buying a rope and you’re unsure, get one that you think will be too long. You can always shorten it. Work on technique when you’re starting out! If your rope is the wrong length, it can actually cause you to learn to jump rope incorrectly.
If you would like to learn more about this, check out the videos in our Getting Started Section.