Getting Your Foundation Right
OK! We've been working on getting down good wrist and foot technique, and establishing an efficient orientation to the rope. We also talked about the importance of protecting your feet by lacing up high-quality running or training shoes before you pick up the rope.
That protection doesn't end at the soles of your shoes--what you skip ON is just as important as what you skip IN!
Skipping with good form is a moderate-impact activity. But those impacts can add up, which is why you need to choose the material you skip on carefully. You'll survive a single session on a harsh surface, but if you continue down that path, day after day, you are headed for trouble.
What surfaces should you avoid? When deciding, there are two features to watch out for: rigidity and friction.
1. Stay clear of hard, immobile surface like stone, concrete, or asphalt.
2. Steer away from high-friction, 'grippy' or 'sticky' surfaces.
Tough surfaces don't just wear down your body--they also wear down your rope! Course concrete and asphalt, in particular, will gradually chew up the apex of that beautiful parabola, thinning your rope until it eventually snaps. You can take measures to guard your rope by putting a narrow piece of tubing or a wire spring at the end, but this isn't an ideal solution, as the edges where our guard meets the rope can get compromised.
Now you know what to avoid. So, what surfaces work best? You want a material that's only semi-rigid, with some flexibility to soften your landings. And you want a surface that's low-friction. Here are your best options:
1. A nice, springy wooden floor
2. A forgiving synthetic flooring such as linoleum
If you go this route, be sure that this surface isn't just glued down straight to the cement--there should be a cushiony padding, or a forgiving wood floor beneath.
3. If you are REALLY lucky, you may also have nearby surfaces that are designed to minimize impact from vigorous exercise. This includes dense synthetic or rubber mats found at the local gym, or more supple, synthetic surfaces increasingly used at playgrounds.
4. If these options are hard to come by or just too inconvenient to get to, your next option is to 'DIY' it and create your own surface! You don't need to be a master carpenter. All you need to do is cut out a square from one of these materials and provide enough height from your base surface to allow some 'give' in the material. One meter on each side should allow you plenty of jumping space. Be sure to try out your custom surface--with some materials, like wood, flexibility and give may decrease with size.
Whatever surface you choose, it should give your feet added bounce through each jump. The surface should also be kind to your rope--relatively frictionless, so the cord 'snaps' off of the surface with each swing!
Today, your mission is simple: locate, purchase or build a forgiving surface on which to skip! If your surface is outside, and you live in a region that's sunny most of the time, great! If there's a chance that weather conditions or foot traffic will prevent you from using this spot on a consistent basis, then either scout for a back-up, or 'DIY it' and create your own!
For today's practice, you're going to do some comparison skipping on your safe surface of choice and hard, unforgiving terrain. Note that we're cutting down the rest time between to 20 seconds.
1 set x 50 jumps - designated skipping surface
1 set x 50 jumps - rigid surface (concrete, asphalt, hard ground or other unforgiving surface)
2 sets x 50 jumps - designated skipping surface
Rest between sets: 20 seconds
Take note of the huge difference a surface makes in your skipping. How did it feel jumping on hard stone, ground or concrete? What differences did you notice as you returned to your safer surface? Did you feel any changes in how your rope reacted to each? What were they? As usual, note how you did trip-wise.
Take care to pick the right surface, and you'll have a foundation for better skipping, for years to come!