For those of you competing in the open sectionals, or who just need work on DUs in general, I wanted to offer a few tips that I think will help just about everyone with their doubles. Even if youre solid and can do them unbroken, theres still some room to make them more efficient for just about all of us, myself included. What I would also encourage, WORK ON THEM! Just because Gale offers you singles as a sub for doubles doesnt mean you should default to singles. Do the doubles, even if it hurts your time.
Onto the tips:
RELAX in general. I see people straining every muscle they have hoping to find the magic strain combo that will help them get their DUs down. Its counterproductive. Relax. More specifically:
RELAX your neck. Your only real focus neck-wise should be on maintaining good position, which is eyes straight forward or slightly upward with your chin down in a consistent position (lots of us, myself included, let our chin drift up).
RELAX your shoulders. While your shoulders will get some work and will get tired doing DUs, especially if doing them really quickly, a lot of people really squeeze their shoulders trying to lock their arms in place. This contracts your shoulder muscles, making them shorter, which in turn makes your arms rise up, which in turn makes the rope shorter, which in turn OW MY SHINS. Shoulders relaxed, arms hanging freely at your side. Let gravity keep your arms down, dont press them down with your shoulders.
RELAX your forearms. I do feel sorry for the handles on the jumpropes at the box, because lots of us squeeze the life out of them (and were surprised when the ropes fight back and kill our legs and arms). If you relax your grip, your forearms will relax, which will help you spin the rope with your wrists instead of your forearms, which will also help your shoulders relax, which will also help your neck relax.
HAND POSITION: Wherever youre at (unless in a business meeting or holding children), stand up and drop your hands to your side. This is where your elbows should be when youre jumping (maybe a bit extended, but many of us at the box have a good 2 feet between our torso and our elbows, this is bad). Elbows close to your torso, forearms angled outward just a little bit, with hands slightly in front of you (if necessary). You should maintain this form as best as you can while jumping, spinning the rope with your wrists and keeping everything else compact and symmetrical.
HIPS: Dont pike! Lots of you will pike forward unnecessarily when doing double unders, which simply wastes effort, energy, and can be tough on your back. The rope is long enough, you dont need to become shorter for it to go over your head. Hips shouldnt be opening and closing throughout the jump.
LEGS: Dont tuck! You dont need to tuck. Odds are, youre spinning the rope fast enough and can jump high enough. Lets nerd up and get into some physics here. Lets say you jump straight up and down with your legs straight, and get your feet 6 inches off the ground. Your hips also moved 6 inches from your starting point (technically they moved 0 inches, I know). Now lets say you jump up, but halfway up, you tuck your legs. Thanks to our ol buddy Newton and his laws of motion, when you pull your legs up, your hips stop moving upward. So yes, your feet will end up 10-12 inches off the ground, but your hips only moved 3-4 despite the increase in exertion. So whenever you get tired of pulling your legs up, you will miss, because youre not able to get your hips high enough. This is an overly technical explanation, so, short version: consistent slight bend in the knees, bouncing on your toes, not spending lots of time on the ground. This will utilize muscle elasticity for an easy bounce instead of your hamstrings for an unnecessary leg tuck.
RHYTHM: This is whats really tough, and its the last thing to get before the light bulb turns on. In order to achieve good double under rhythm, you need to be able to start your faster swing speed and maintain it. Many people who struggle with their DUs do not spin the rope at a consistent speed, i.e. the first swing will be much slower than the second. These people will struggle to chain together DUs. A way to practice this is put both handles of the rope in one hand and spin it next to you while you jump in place to get the rhythm down. Consistent swing speed is the key to chaining DUs. Now having said that, force yourself to try 2 in a row. Your first few tries will be awkward, and youll miss. Forcing yourself to do 2 in a row no matter what will give you an idea of the rhythm you need and the swing speed youll need to maintain, then you can work on fine tuning it.
Putting it all together, thats an unnecessarily complex look at a successful double under. It sounds complex, but even the best DUers at the box can clean up a few things. If you ever see me at the box, let me know and Ill be happy to take a look for you. Theres no need to be frustrated by DUs. Keep trying them before/during/after the WODs and youll be jumping like Buddy Lee (look him up on youtube, insane jump roper) in no time!
A good rule of thumb for rope length is to place both feet together on the rope and pull the handles up. The tips of the handles should be just above your armpit if you're a beginner, and the better you get the shorter you want your rope.
As far as a video tutorial, I realized (after watching video of me doing the sectionals WOD this morning) that I need to work on keeping my elbows in first! I'm getting some new video equipment in over the next couple of weeks and will be able to put something together after that.
Great tips Andy and your so right...just because singles are an option, don't default to them. I am one "of those" people and will def make it a point to not default, just do the DU's and get better! Thanks for the motivation!