The Speed Rope: Progress

I love the challenge of jumping rope. Probably because the activity flies in the face of my disability. Any physical activity requiring coordinated movements and balance, will always be a challenge. But, that statement doesn’t mean the activities should be shied away from. In fact, I believe in just the opposite. For someone like me with a physical disability. The physical activities requiring coordinated movements should be run toward. Making attempts to try them wherever the opportunity might arise. They may need to be broken down to their most simplistic stages. Meaning, the activity would begin with something simpler than the actual exercise. Like beginning with stepping over a line on the floor, before progressing onward toward the jump rope. The ability to start with the first movement of stepping over that line with both feet, could someday be looked upon as the first step in leading to jumping rope. For me, there have been many stages in between, taking months to master. The end result has been working with the speed rope. Which, has helped me in other physical activities of my life. The improved coordination of the jump rope helps my golf swing and ability to ski. The activity also helps my wrist and hand coordination to type and write with better strength in my hands. So, we continue working each session with the speed rope. Cerebral palsy also hampers my ability in the timing and coordination aspects of the exercise. However, the strength in my legs and endurance in my body has grown enough to work for longer stretches. Bringing about another challenge. 

The goals have been set during conversations with Bernard. There have been some exercises in which we discuss peer performance. When there might be a possibility of achieving levels my peers could achieve without much training. I often think of it as the abilities of a forty to fifty-year-old male walking in off the street. Someone who might not workout hardly at all. In some exercises, touching those peer levels might be achievable. While, when thinking about other movements, the gap could be too wide. Jump roping has been one where I have bumped up against peer achievements. Those who wouldn’t have spent much time with the jump rope. The numbers given to me were most likely approximations. They could be high or they could be low in their range. But, they applied to the standard rope being used, the one I began jumping rope with, and related to consecutive jumps. Very scientific stuff we have going on here. So, the peer ability range we are working towards has been 25-50 consecutive jumps. The ability of a peer with some work on jump roping has the range of 75-100 consecutive jumps. One of the coolest things for me was achieving the first peer group ability range. I was able on a few occasions to get inside the 25-50 consecutive jumps range, using the standard rope. Though, I remember getting into the 40s, I have never touched or surpassed 50 jumps in a row. Jumping with the speed rope however, has been an entirely different situation. Using the speed rope has been more challenging. So, the number range of consecutive jumps would be different. Approximating those numbers is difficult, because a speed rope isn’t used often.

Even with the elevated challenge of the speed rope. I still like to keep those numbers front of mind. They have been much more challenging to accomplish with the speed rope. Which, applies added pressure to the entire process of jumping rope. The speed rope asks for better rotation in the wrists, in an attempt for me, to remove the arms from the task of spinning the rope. It also requires a jumping rhythm with added speed. The rope moves much quicker as compared with the standard rope. Placing more stress on the coordination required for the movement. All the factors leading to the challenge of getting my number of consecutive jumps into the first window. Bernard has me approaching the speed rope from a number of angles. Working on different games with the rope, as I call them, to elevate my ability to get consecutive jumps. We started by trying to get ten jumps in a row. A number that seemed pretty easily achieved with the standard rope. Ten wasn’t a number I was able to hit with the speed rope. So, we knocked it down to the challenge of achieving five jumps in a row. This number was doable for me, and we stuck with it for a couple weeks. The frustrations of tripping on the rope, trying to get tens, was left behind. Working on the five-number elevated my belief, because working on ten in a row left me wondering if I could really use the speed rope. We soon moved on to the challenge of getting six in a row and my confidence elevated.

We were starting to find success on the speed rope. In order to translate the going success into a better consecutive streak, Bernard mixed things up. He brought in the element of time, beginning with one minute. I was asked to achieve two sets of five consecutive jumps in a row, within one minute. I remember this stage as not being too terribly complex. As I had been working on getting five consecutive and six consecutive for a couple weeks. Allowing me to feel good about getting two rounds finished in one minute. The speed rope got much more interesting at the next request. Bernard wanted me to get 50 jumps, not matter how long it took. They didn’t have to be consecutive, they just needed to add up to 50 before I was done. The challenge really helped me raise my consecutive streaks with the speed rope. It applied pressure because the less I got tripped up, the faster I achieved the 50 number. I started getting consecutive streaks of between 5 and 10 almost immediately. Even getting into the teens with some of my attempts. Getting 50 jumps was the most challenging jump rope game to this point. The game also challenged my mind to do math, which I’m not so great at, while being pretty winded from the jumping. But, the strive for 50 proved my ability to get more consecutive jumps. Causing me to start believing, that with time, I had the capability of figuring out the speed rope. 

The speed rope games continue to evolve. We have moved on from getting 50 in a row. The new challenge has been getting 20 jumps within the time of one minute. After a couple weeks, my time to achieve twenty jumps was dropped to forty-five seconds. Bernard continues to have me work on my consecutive streak with the speed rope. Bringing back the walk-off mentality. Where if I can get 10 jumps in a row, I’m done with the jump rope for that particular set. The two games have me thinking about the speed rope differently. On one side trying to compile a number of jumps quickly. While, on the reverse side, concentrating on improving my number of consecutive jumps. Applying the pressure of heightened focus with the penalty of beginning again if I get tripped up. The entire challenge of jump roping has been fun. From the struggles of learning the standard rope. Where I could barely achieve five jumps in a row. To gaining the ability of getting inside the peer target range of 25-50. Doing so, not every time, but being able to get there enough times, to introduce a speed rope. Then, really feeling like I was starting over. Struggling to get the five consecutive jumps, just like starting with the standard rope. Now, I find myself in the middle of grinding away at the speed rope. Hoping to improve enough to get into the 25-50 consecutive jump category. Learning the jump rope has been exciting. From not being able to jump rope with any success as a kid. I have managed to move into something I didn’t think possible, using the speed rope. The exercise has improved balance, coordination, endurance, and my ability to use my hands. The strength and balance in my wrists have elevated tremendously. I look forward to continuing the work with the speed rope. Feeling the excitement of achieving something I never thought possible. 

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