There seems to be a couple ways of jumping rope. Cerebral palsy making any method challenging. With all the timing and coordination required. The achievement of getting over the swinging rope was monumental. Something I struggled with mightily as a child. When other kids on the playground appeared to clear the rope with ease. Eventually moving into more complex challenges with the rope. Turning the hands and arms with a rope in hands. Making it smooth enough to contact the ground with consistency. Then, understanding instinctively when to jump. It all looked fascinating when I was a child. While appearing entirely out of the realm of possibility. Until the rope was handed to me almost thirty years after those playground experiences. Bernard had a plan of bringing the jump rope into our program. We began slow, only trying to complete one jump at a time, then moving on to two jumps. Soon, we progressed up to attempting five consecutive jumps with the jump rope. At each stage, he had me achieve the number, then stop the rope. Beginning again at the first jump. There wasn’t much coaching happening at this beginning stage. We worked on the turf in the middle of the gym. Surprisingly to me, we would eventually work on a different surface. In those early days, it was all about getting over the rope. I was doing it through a process most familiar to me, double jumping.
Double jumping was the only process I knew worked. It had always been used when attempting to jump rope through childhood. My arms lacked the coordination of spinning the rope quickly. So, during the time it took to get the rope around, I added a jump. The method felt like it helped on a couple of fronts. The first being my ability to gain timing. Double jumping took away some of my confusion. It helped me understand when to jump over the rope. Instead of being flatfooted between jumps and trying to guess. With the slowed speed of my hands. Double jumping was my timing mechanism. The tactic also felt like is assisted in helping me maintain balance. Throughout my early life, I struggled with holding myself from falling backward. It felt like many times when falling as a child, it was always back. Having to learn how to catch myself with my right leg. Adding, the challenge of cerebral palsy, reduced my time to react when balance was lost. The fall would begin and I could feel my body teeter. Sometimes, the mind couldn’t relay the message to my leg in time to stop the fall. Meaning, standing in place as the rope passed overhead. Left me feeling like I might lose balance and fall over backward. The technique of double jumping seemed to help alleviate that apprehension.
After allowing me to experiment with the jump rope, using my double jump technique. Allowing me the time to get the hang of the movement. We had finally reached the mark of five jumps. Providing Bernard enough information to formulate some helpful ideas. He came up with moving our jump roping onto a different surface. One where the rope could be heard contacting the floor. Thinking the rhythmic sound would help my jump timing. We moved off the turf and into one of the yoga studios. There, we had a wooden surface for the rope to contact. Clicking against the wood just before my jump was required. It would help give a better idea of when to jump. Provide a que, attempting to improve coordination with an anchor point. With the added tool for timing. Bernard took away the repetition limit. Instead, having me attempt as many consecutive jumps as possible within two minutes. Each time my foot tripped over the rope, the count began again. This brought into play the repetition penalty he had been using with ball bouncing. The missed jump would stop the growing number in its tracks and I would begin again. At this point, I wasn’t stringing many successful jumps together. Maybe five to ten in a row and it was frustrating each time the number came out low. Bernard would remind me of the reasons for struggling on particular days, bringing back the focus. The reason most often boiling down to coordination of my hands and feet.
Double jumping was the way I entered the jump roping world. It was the technique I had always used in jump roping throughout childhood. Never, in my mind, having the balance to try a single jump. The idea of falling was too scary. Besides, it would take way too much time for the rope to travel overhead. Causing my footing and stability would be lost. Leading me to feel even less coordinated. This was my anxious rationality. Bernard didn’t say anything about the double jumping as we began. Going all the way through the summer with the technique making me successful. However, as balance began to improve, double jumping was costing me time and energy. While the number of jumps achievable during one set suffered. There was a way to get more jumps with less effort. Setting myself up for numbers of consecutive jumps feeling out of this stratosphere. But, the fear was remaining in the back of mind. Wanting to continue in the process of jump roping, while also feeling safe. The idea of adding more challenge to this already difficult movement was frightening. But, like most all of our exercises, this movement would be challenged to progress. I would have to let go of my comfortable technique of double jumping and face down another fear. Moving beyond the system saving me from the elevated likelihood of falling over. My only hope was, Bernard would know when to take the step.