Jumping rope is a great way to stay in shape. It is a full-body workout that offers aerobic benefits, strengthens the legs, and is good for ankle stability and foot strength.
A jump rope is light and portable — easy to carry in even the smallest backpack. And you can jump rope almost anywhere.
I would love to make it a regular part of my fitness routine, especially when I travel.
There’s only one problem: I’m not good at it.
It’s makes a frequent appearance in CrossFit workouts, which I’ve been doing with increasing frequency. When it’s part of the Workout of the Day (WOD) I know I’m going to get an opportunity to practice expanding my frustration tolerance.
How many times will I trip on the rope before I lose my temper or give up?
Jumping rope is my meditation practice. It’s my practice in maintaining equanimity, in letting the failure slide off my back. It teaches me resilience and persistence.
I want it to be fun, but mostly I just dread it.
What I dread more is all the people telling me to practice.
Practice every day and you’ll get better.
Can we put an end to this myth, once and for all?
It seems we’ve finally gotten past the myth that “practice makes perfect,” yet as a culture we’re still stuck on the illusion that “practice makes progress.”
This is simply not true.
Whether it’s jumping rope or any other skill, there’s simply no evidence to support the assertion that practice alone will make you better.
I have jumped rope the same way for decades: with an extra jump.
Jump over the rope. Jump again before the rope comes back. Jump over. Jump. Jump over. Jump.
I bring the rope around so slowly, and my jump off the floor is so low, that I have no choice but the jump twice.
(Don’t confuse this with a double-under, which is when you pass the rope twice in each jump.)
The CrossFit coach tells me I need to use my wrists more, instead of my shoulders. Until I learn the technique for that, practicing the way I currently jump rope will only entrench my bad habits.
The way I jump rope has become a habit. The more I “practice” the more I reinforce this habit.
Practice, without more, reinforces what you’re already doing.
It entrenches habits.
If jumping rope is too removed for you, consider someone who plays a musical instrument. If they practice the wrong notes in their scales, they will not improve their ability to play the instrument.
Practice makes permanent.
To improve in a skill, you need more than practice.
If you want to improve in anything, your practice must be supported by three elements:
First, you need to learn good technique.
Every skill has a technique associated with it. To improve, you must learn and practice good technique,
But technique alone isn’t enough.
The best techniques won’t help you improve if you only practice sporadically.
To improve, you must be consistent with your practice, and sustain it over a long period of time.
How long? Years.
Even consistently practicing good technique doesn’t guarantee improvement.
There’s one more element.
You’re going to invest time in learning technique. You’re going to diligently practice.
How do you know if you’re using the correct technique?
You need someone outside of yourself — like a coach or trainer — to see what you can’t see, and to point out what may be in your blind spots.
Without constructive feedback, you don’t know whether your technique measures up or whether you’re actually implementing the technique correctly.
If you don’t have an outside person, you can record yourself, but it’s not the same.
I can watch videos of myself jumping rope, but I still need someone to teach me the proper technique if I’m going to improve.
Practice, without more, just won’t cut it.