Being able to incorporate different elements and styles is one area that really makes jump rope stand out. Over the years I’ve seen everything from standard ‘boxer style’ skipping to interpretive dance. Some of it looked awesome, some didn’t and some was just plain weird. Whether I liked it or not, none of it was wrong. A jump rope is probably the most eclectic piece of equipment you could ever buy. Most sports just don’t allow the variety and creativity that can be found with a rope.
A number of years ago I was involved with one of the first rope related plays that was ever produced called, “Rope: A New Twist”. The idea was to have a variety of rope related performers in one show with a story line. We had one of the best rodeo ropers in the world, a jump roping dog, rhythmic gymnasts, a unicyclist that jumped rope and of course, some regular old rope jumpers which included me. The show was a lot of fun to do, but my favorite part was the time that I got to spend with the other performers. We all learned new skills from each other and had plenty of time to think of creative ways to interact completely different uses of a rope. **Quick side note: The rope release skills that have become quite common in the jump rope world got their start from this collaboration. The style of rope spinning the rhythmic gymnasts used was the starting point for every major rope release that’s being used today.**
Anyway, all that to get to this part of the story. One of the nights a well known jump rope “artist” showed up and we invited him to do a routine in the show. His entire routine was designed to be graceful, smooth and very interpretive (at one point the rodeo guy turned to me and said, “all he needs is some candles and flowers and he’d be right at home”). To be brutally honest, I didn’t really care for it, but that’s not the point…that’s how he saw jump rope. Being able to use a rope in a way that makes sense to you is awesome! You may not win a tournament doing that, but that’s not what we’re going for here. I want you to understand that jump rope can be an extension of you if you’re willing to bring your skills and talents to the rope. Or lets flip that around…bring the rope to whatever it is that you like to do.
This has all been a little abstract so let’s get a bit more concrete. I once did a demo at Dance Chicago. While there I was watching a group of kids doing Irish Step Dancing (truly fascinating to watch). I got to talk with the guy who trained them and he told me that every move they do has to be done with a jump rope. Here’s a group of kids that love to dance, but to be able to do it better, they use a jump rope to help with their rhythm and timing. Rope release skills (like I mentioned earlier) got their start from rhythmic gymnastics. Regular gymnastics are some of the most common ways to combine sports. Soccer, basketball, football…they need to work on their foot speed and timing, there are a number of drills they do with a jump rope. Bring a rope to whatever activity that you love and find a way to incorporate it for some variety and challenge that will help you to improve or just have more fun.
I’ve learned so much from watching other sports that has helped me become a better jumper. Be willing to learn and experiment. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, look to someone else and what they’re doing. Even if you don’t like their style, you can still pick up something from them that you can tweak to make it work for you.
If you can ever truly wrap your mind around this concept, that nothing is out of bounds with a jump rope, you’ll open up a world of fitness that is truly limitless.