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Double Dutch Skipping Techniques

double dutch - two people turning two ropes in opposite directions while a third person in the middle jumps over each double dutch rope.

Ropes needed - 2 x 4.5m double dutch ropes

Basic rules and guidelines

1. Turning double dutch ropes - To start, turners face each other and practice turning the double dutch ropes smoothly and accurately. You should imagine a line that runs down the centre of your body. Your hands should almost never cross that line. (The only time they do is when a skipper is doing a trick inside the double dutch ropes that requires a lot of space like press-ups and various acrobatics. Big arm movements are also required when two or more skippers are in the double dutch ropes together or when they are entering the double dutch ropes by hand-spring or somersault or any other of the amazing ways that can be applied.) A turner should be able to tell if they or their fellow turner are tugging or yanking the double dutch rope at a certain point in the revolution and should feel comfortable with telling the other person to slow down or speed up or to smooth out their turning. Novice turners often tug the double dutch rope at the same point in the revolution of the double dutch rope and are unaware of it. These "hot spots" in the turn have to be eradicated as this is more often than not, the reason for double dutch failing. Some people have an arm that doesn't move at all, or moves in a backwards direction or up and down instead of round in a smooth circle. If you're right-handed, it's often your left hand that lets you down and vice versa. Nearly everyone has a dominant side which wants to take over and only practice will iron these things out. One helpful way of understanding why double dutch turning can go wrong at the start is to imagine the hands that are turning the double dutch ropes to be like wheels on a car - if one wheel speeds up at the same point each time it turns, the car will lurch forward and give an uncomfortable and jerky ride. Another way to look at it is that the circles made by the hands are like clock faces. When your left hand is at 12 o'clock, your partner's corresponding hand (their right hand) must be at 12 o'clock and likewise with the other hands. When your left hand is at 6 o'clock, your partner's hand must also be at 6 o'clock. Your hands are always opposite to each other and your partner's hands must mirror this exactly. Again, when one of your hands is at 3 o'clock, the other has to be at 3 o'clock, when one is at 12 o'clock, the other is at 12 o'clock. (Of course, when your hands are at 3 o'clock, your partners will be at 9 o'clock from their own perspective and when yours are at 9, your partners will be at 3!)

skip-hop double dutch rope in action

There are things that you can do to perfect the basic art of turning double dutch ropes such as walking towards each other as you turn and see if the double dutch ropes collide. When you do this you will notice that the circles you make will have to increase in size to accommodate for the slackening of the double dutch ropes. Likewise, you can move apart and see if you can keep your rhythm of the turning ropes the same. When you move apart you will notice that the circles you make will reduce in diameter because the ropes are tightening. Try kneeling down while you're turning and then standing back up whilst keeping the rhythm of the double dutch ropes constant. Double dutch ropes can be speeded up once the skipper is in and bouncing in a comfortable and regular rhythm but the rhythm can change at any time so spending time practicing the smooth increase and decrease in the speed of the double dutch ropes is never a waste.
Please note: Having the ability to adjust the speed of the double dutch ropes whenever you need to is absolutely essential to make it all work because the skipper inside the double dutch ropes cannot see the double dutch ropes. The only indicator of what is going on is the movement of the turners hands and the "tap, tap, tap" of the double dutch ropes as they strike the floor. Consequently, skippers new to double dutch constantly change their rhythm as they try to find one that suits them. They speed up, slow down and sometimes lose concentration and switch to a double bounce instead of a single bounce which can throw everything out of sync. The turners need to have the ability to speed up one arm or slow down the other to accommodate for these fluctuations in rhythm in order to keep it going. Learn to communicate with the skipper while turning the double dutch ropes, giving instructions as to whether they should alter their speed if they are going too fast or too slow. You may need to point out that they have unwittingly switched to a double bounce rhythm instead of a single. Having a conversation with a skipper while you are turning the double dutch ropes is in itself a challenge. But this will also help you overcome the different things that going to go awry when doing the double dutch.

2. Position - Turners should stand far enough apart to keep a little tension in the double dutch ropes but there must be approximately a metre touching the ground when the double dutch rope turners are at rest with their hands waist height. Good double dutch rope turners can stand in positions that could be regarded as too close or too far apart and still make it work but this a general guideline when starting double dutch.

3. Entering the double dutch ropes - Skippers come in from the end, next to one of the turners, (not from right-angles to the double dutch ropes until they are very confident of entering) and, if they are standing on your right, enter by stepping and jumping over the double dutch rope that is in your right hand as it comes round. Vice versa for the left. It can be useful sometimes to have two different colour double dutch ropes so that the skipper entering the double dutch ropes can focus on the one they need to jump over and not be overwhelmed by it all. Single bounce rhythm is essential. The count of “one and two and step, jump, jump, jump...” can help the skipper to know when to enter the double dutch ropes. The count of “one” happens when the double dutch rope in the turner's left hand strikes the ground. The count of “and” follows when the right-hand double dutch rope hits the ground and so on.

Skipping technique tip Have markings on the floor to indicate where the skipper stands, steps and jumps until they are used to entering unaided.