What I Learned from Double Unders

“Jump higher.”

“Keep your feet closer together.”

“Turn the rope faster.”

“Practice every day.”

“Focus on a spot on the wall.”

“That rope’s too long for you.”

“That rope’s too short for you.”

“Relax and find your rhythm.”

“Don’t hold your breath.”

“Practice slowing the rope down and speeding it up.”

“Take the same number of warm-up jumps every time.”

“Pretend there is a gun to your head and just do it.”

This is just some of the advice I’ve been given over the five-plus years that I’ve struggled to master the “double-under,” a classic CrossFit move where a jump rope passes beneath your feet twice each time you jump. Jump high, spin fast.

In order to successfully complete even a single a double-under, the rope has to move very quickly so most people don’t use a traditional jump rope, they use a jump rope that is really just a thin wire coated in a thin layer of plastic. And you have to spin it very quickly. And while you are struggling to learn double-unders, you get hit by that wire a lot. Across your shoulders, your hands, your arms and the tips of your toes. Often, when you miss -- which I’ve done literally hundreds of times -- those welts remain for the better part of a day or two.

Last week, I linked eleven double-unders for the first time. Yesterday, I was only able to do six. But tomorrow, I plan to do twelve.

The importance of consistent practice. The inevitability of failure (in this case, often painful failure). The benefits of good advice and the downside of bad advice. The importance of having the right tool for the job. And a stubborn refusal to quit.

Those are just a few of the things I’ve learned from double-unders.