Beginning to accomplish jumping rope has been exciting. Introduced by Bernard to work on a variety of concepts. Everything geared toward cerebral palsy improvement. Jumping rope combined many physical aspects needing work, into one movement. The exciting part of discovering jumping rope was the activity becoming possible. It meant we could use the exercise moving forward. There are many ways of adding challenge to the movement. The first was increasing the number of times I could double-jump. Meaning adding an extra jump as the rope circled over my head. We got my streak of double-jumping up to just under thirty-five in a row. Bernard determined it was time to increase the challenge. Reaching fifty or a hundred in a row would be more feasible without the double-jump. The question remained, how challenging would it be to single-jump? The concept made me nervous. Double-jumping had many benefits in my mind. It helped me keep time and balance. Saving me from having to wait for the rope to travel. Minimizing the fear of falling backward after a jump. Now, the movement would be challenged. The first thought coming to mind was regarding balance. With the question of jumping up and landing without movement. Calling into question the stability in my core. I began to understand, there really was no other option. In order to increase my productivity with the rope. Single jumping would have to be learned. Bernard felt confident it could be done. Like other movements, his confidence at least gave me the inspiration for an attempt.
When I began working with the single jump. The movement felt awkward. There was more fear around balance. So often with cerebral palsy, landing required extra steps. Following any jump attempt my instinct has been to step. Whether I find myself taking a step to the side or behind. Life has involved the anticipation of rocky landings. The higher I attempted my lead, the more concerning the land. At the very least, my body required time for recovery. Rocking in one direction or another. Taking a moment to regain equilibrium. This might have been a skill Bernard recognized to challenge. The requirement of landing on two feet with stability. Learning how to gather my balance quickly and be ready to lift again. The waiting would be most challenging. Being able to land, have balance, and stand steady momentarily. Giving the rope time to make its rotation around the body. The first couple of rotation carried that weird sensation. The one unfamiliar to my body. We tried doing a couple of rotation in a row. It kind of provided the strange sensation of falling. The feeling when on a roller coaster or a particularly hilly stretch of highway. The nervous energy bouncing around the stomach. An anticipation in the middle of my still stand. Wondering if I can clear the rope during another pass. Hoping not to fall before it became time to jump again.
The feeling reminded me of a child wobbling as they learn to walk. As the attempt continued, the nervous energy slowly subsided. We went from getting a couple jumps in a row, to getting five in a row. Gaining the feeling of standing while the rope passed overhead. There wasn’t a time when my balance stumbled. It was a surprise, but even with the swaying body as I landed, the balance didn’t falter. When the balance was there time and again. My confidence began to climb. Instead of concern over maintaining stability during my landing. Some of the focus could move into other aspects. Coordinating my body was of greater importance when single jumping. The double jumping had provided a timing mechanism that vanished. Bringing the challenge of coordinating the movement into the forefront. I had to find a new kind of rhythm. Remaining calm as the rope made the journey around again. The rope could speed up, as my confidence grew. Because, added speed to the rope, meant increased quickness with the feet. Which, at this point, were still rocking back on my heels to insure balance. As the control over my body became more secure. Landing and being ready to jump over the rope again in faster secession. My number of consecutive jumps began climbing. Going from five to ten. Before long we were stringing together fifteen jumps in a row. I was getting the hang of single jumping. As the rotation in my hands matched up with the jumping of my feet. The consistency lifted my consecutive even higher, up to twenty or twenty-five in a row.
As the number of consecutive jumps climbed. The muscles got stronger and more stable. Working on a more complex kind of balance. The single jumping challenged my ability to quiet my body. Much more than double jumping had required. I felt more freedom in double jumping rope. Taking two hops as the rope circled my body, helped my body stability. When the two hops went down to just jumping over the rope. Stabilizing myself as the rope circled was harder. Adding the challenge of quieting my body, in order to remain balanced, while the rope passed overhead. Requiring me to remain in a fixed position without the sway from side to side. Learning this stability, allowed for the efficiency of the movement to increase. The control over my body was improving through the exercise of single rope jumping. With the first goal of better stability in my body increasing. Bernard could add the element of testing my concentration level. Instead of having me work on the movement for increments of two-minutes. Which was done to increase efficiency of the single jump roping movement. He would now ask me to reach a consecutive number of jumps. When I hit the number of successful jumps in a row, we could stop. Each time a number was achieved a couple days in a row. He would bump up the number required. His name for it was the “walk-off” number. Once hit, I was done with the set. Bernard would increase the walk-off number when it became too comfortable. I had two minutes to hit this number. If the two minutes ran out, it was time to put the jump rope down. it was important to me that I stay clear of the two-minute bell.
Jumping rope has been a gift to cerebral palsy improvement. The exercise provides plenty of room for growth. Giving Bernard the ability to challenge me on multiple levels. We have spoken in sessions about the difficulties of my disability. Some of the hardest obstacles are balance and coordination. Jumping rope works on more than these two concepts. The activity turns on many lights in my brain. Testing many aspects of physical movement. Like my ability to jump in order to elevate my heart rate. Jumping rope has been a catch all for our program. Starting with the standard jump rope. Jumping over it in whichever way was achievable. Even without being able to string many successes together. The pattern working best for me was double jumping. Adding an extra hop as the rope circled my body. The double jumping was good. Until I was able to get above thirty jumps in a row. Before the rope go caught around my feet. We then progressed to single jumping. Bernard, requiring me to take away the hop as the rope circle. The new challenged added elements I didn’t see coming. Nor, did I think single jumping was achievable. But, we practiced and found the adjustments needed to succeed. We have achieved the same success as double jumping. I have been able to single jump my way to over thirty jumps in a row. Before. the rope gets tangled around my feet. The thing about Bernard and this rope. He always has another challenge with the jump rope, waiting just around the corner.