Jumping rope is one of the most challenging movements. During my childhood, it was one of the most frustrating. Watching kids spin the rope around themselves with ease. Not taking them long to get the hang of hopping over the moving rope. Soon, they moved on to playing in small groups. Taking a larger rope, placing one person at each end. The two would spin the rope around for a third, who would jump into the middle. At times, two people would hop into the middle. Jumping over the rope as it passed under their feet. Preparing to jump over again when the rope came back around. Jumping rope is one of the staples of the playground. Like other things growing up. I was happy when our fascination with the jump rope came to its conclusion. The activity never worked for me as a kid. My attempts at jumping rope on my own rarely made it passed a couple spins. The idea of spinning the rope with my hands. Then, timing my jump to hop over when the rope came past. The entire concept of coordination like this was entirely over my head. Kids would be kind enough to let me try the middle of the long rope. Where I could focus on trying to jump over the rope. Void of concerning myself with twirling my own rope. I might have fared a little better, but not enough to feel included. So, when Bernard brought out the jump rope, I panicked.
It all began in March of this year, 2021. Bernard made what looked to be a jump rope appear. Off of a shelf in the gym that I had looked through a million times. I will always attest, of all the times interacting with that shelf, never did I see a jump rope. When the rope was handed over my heart sank. Calling me back to challenging memories of failure. But, Bernard appeared determined. This would be the next step in my training process. He wanted me to give the jump rope a few attempts. Maybe, all the time and training would bring about different results. My heart kept calling me back to the uncoordinated child. Reminding me of cerebral palsy and the unlikeliness of doing anything requiring coordination to achieve. Anxiety went searing around my body, as the rope was sorted into my hands. Behind my heels, it was swung. I was ready to overcome the fear, hoping for better results. The first few attempt yielded a couple successful jumps each. The coordination of my hand and feet, still showing itself to border on impossible. It couldn’t have looked good. But, Bernard wasn’t going to be taking the rope back. This was a challenge we would be practicing on the regular. So, after watching me struggle through a couple attempts. He had me begin at the most basic of levels.
My first goal, during that first session with the rope, was to get one jump. It kind of took me by surprise when he gave the instruction. Just find a way to get over the rope one time and stop. My mind thought it to be entertainingly simplistic. But, that is the exact attempt I made to begin. The rope was taken into my hands and swung over my head moving forward. When it came around to the ground, I hoped over it on both feet. The rope swung through, as momentum carried it over my head again. Hitting the front of my shoes on its way back through, the rope came to a rest. Bernard nodded his approval at the completion of one jump. I stepped over the rope, resting it against the heel of my shoes, and began again. One jump over and the ropes momentum carried it around to the front of my shoes for a rest. We did this for a couple minutes. Until my confidence was built into the idea that I could jump the rope. Then, Bernard had me get two continuous jumps before stopping the rope. Requiring a little more coordination, as the rope went around three times. The first couple with the jump, then the third resulting in carried momentum. Achieving two successful jumps was more challenging to achieve. There were more misses with the added burden of coordination in the movement. For the first time, a loss of hope in my ability leaked on slightly.
This felt like we were starting from zero. Something I hadn’t really felt in other movements. Taking me back to that feeling of isolation from the playground. I had to trust that Bernard saw something, leading him to believe jump roping was possible to learn. We moved on from targeting two jumps in a row. The following week he raised the bar to five consecutive jumps. Once I got over the rope five times. Just like before, I was to stop the rope. There were many times when five was challenging to achieve. Slipping up along the way for different reasons. My feet weren’t clearing the rope, or my hands lost timing. Each time the rope got caught underfoot would lead to small irritation. Sometimes even turning into frustration, scolding myself over the seemingly small number of jumps required. But, the coordination was challenging to learn. I kept after it and finally gained greater understanding of the movement. The completion of five jumps was happening more frequently. We had found jump roping to have a positive impact on our program. Becoming an important part of increasing coordination, endurance, and confidence. The challenge of jump roping would escalate from this point. If I could do five, I could do more….