The speed rope was a completely new challenge. We had been working with a standard jump rope for a few months. Concentrating on building the coordination of my body. Starting with the double-jumping as a timing mechanism. While, the two jumps helped keep my balance, as the rope traveled. Then, we moved from gaining the ability to jump rope into the more challenging aspect of eliminating the second jump. The idea was to only jump over the rope once per pass. Focusing on keeping my balance without the use of an additional hop. This was all a difficult progression. Taking the slow journey of jumping over the rope a couple times consecutively. By using whatever tactic would help get jumping rope accomplished. We ended with the standard rope in a much better place. I had gained the ability to string more than twenty consecutive jumps over the rope, together. Bernard had succeeded in helping me gain the ability to jump rope. An ability eluding me when growing up on the playground, during recess. Watching friends achieve with seeming ease, something I couldn’t do, jump rope. Now, we were moving into something completely different. There weren’t any speed ropes on the playground, to my recollection. I might have seen them during P.E., but they seemed like a rare sight. Used by people who were thought of as athlete in my mind. I would have never guessed one day, I would be using a speed rope.
Speed ropes were seen in movies about boxing. Or, used in commercials by high level athletes. The speed rope seemed to move at lightning speed. Something I would never have the ability to keep up with in any gym. Even to the point of not understanding what they were called. When Bernard told me about moving to a speed rope. He had to explain what a speed rope was, before I could envision it. In my mind, we were going to continue working with the standard rope. Moving forward onto some kind of speed rope was mindboggling. But, I ordered one up for us to use in the gym. The first noticeable feature was the thickness of the rope. It was much thinner. As compared to the standard rope we had been using. Trying it for the first time left me in wonder. My original goal was simply to slow the rope down. It felt relatively simple to get the rope moving quickly. At this point, if the rope moved at speeds intended, I would have no chance. So, instead of working the speed rope with wrist action. I tried using much of my arm to spin the rope. Similarly, to how the standard rope was operated. It was the motion I was used to. Turning more of the arm would also seem to keep the speed down. There was an overwhelming feel of attempting to keep the rope turning slowly. My feeling was, the rope couldn’t be slowed enough, to provide me a real chance.
The speed rope wasn’t going to slow too much in speed. The way to make the speed rope work was for my pace to quicken. By using my arms to swing the speed rope slightly slower. I could begin getting one or two jumps in a row. Similar to the first time working with the standard rope. Even with my double-jumping, I began by achieving just one or two consecutive rope jumps. During my first week of working with the speed rope. I spun the rope by using more shoulder movement than wrist movement. At week end, using the speed rope remained a large challenge. My high-water mark was somewhere between five and ten in a row. With Bernard setting my goal at ten consecutive jumps. The number was almost impossible to achieve in the early stages. This challenge with the speed rope became even more difficult in the second week. With all the challenges of week one, now the rope was to be rotated with less arm involvement. Explaining to me, the speed rope works on a ball-bearing system. Meaning unlike the standard rope, it spins with much less effort. Giving it the opportunity to spin much quicker. This little nugget of information was not music to my ears. I could hardly keep up when using my shoulders to spin the rope. Now, Bernard wanted me to work on a flicking motion in the wrist. Attempting to remove my fuller arm movements from the motion.
Spinning the speed rope with my wrists was going to be a challenge. The mobility of my wrists has been one of the largest cerebral palsy impacts. Which might be the reason Bernard has brought it to the forefront. Jump roping has been just that for my disability. An exercise placing pressure on many aspects of the disability. Not only was operating this rope going to be different. But, everything involved with the speeds rope was elevated to another level. The gap between the standard and speed ropes was larger than I imagined. Keeping my thoughts focused on how to turn the rope took away from the jumping. It felt like my body was required to be more stringently held in position. Leading my number of consecutive to fall below five in a row, again. Taking me back to the feeling of starting over. The ability to coordinate the movements of jumping and spinning the rope was getting taxing. Attempting within the two-minute time window to get as many ten jumps in a row as I could. The ten-jump mark was hardly being touched. Trying to spin the rope properly and time my jumps to the quickened pace. There was a challenge to even achieve five consecutive jumps. Finally, I got something to turn in my favor.
The frustration was mounting with the speed rope. Too much for me to keep in mind. The exercise felt like it was beginning to make me crazy. But, I knew that giving up on it would be a bad idea. So, I asked if letting in some shoulder movement during the turning, would be acceptable. The other request I had was to bring the consecutive jump target from five down to ten. If we could make the movement more manageable. Maybe we could make some progress with the speed rope. Each request worked okay from the perspective of Bernard. He just didn’t want too much shoulder involvement. At these beginning stages, some shoulder movement could help. Bringing my target number down to five was thought to be good for the time, as well. Helping me to build up some confidence. From there, we have gone forward working with the speed rope. We work in two-minute intervals. Working on the number of five consecutive batches of jumps can be accomplished in the two minutes. Working with the speed rope continues to be a huge challenge. Though, I know it only proves how far I have improved my cerebral palsy impact.