Going Round in Circles with Skipping Ropes?
So you want to start skipping, have looked at ropes on the internet and you’re now confused. Who would have thought there were so many different types of rope? Skipping rope, jump rope, speed rope, cable skipping rope, leather rope, weighted rope, steel rope, adjustable rope, vinyl rope. Where do you start?
Well the first thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Lots of people get confused by the variety available. The second thing to remember is that it’s not as confusing as you think. They all offer the same type of benefits - improving agility, footwork, co-ordination, speed and endurance. We will go through the different types of rope now and try to explain how they differ so that you can be clearer about the sort of rope that is best for you. We’ll also add some links to the various features so you can see the differences for yourself.
Speed ropes - as the name suggests, these focus on speed or how fast the rope spins around and how many times per minute you need to jump over it. The rope is often lighter and thinner, which allows the user to easily increase the speed.
Weighted ropes - these are heavier than your average rope, often with the handles having more weight. So why is that? Well, weighted ropes can help burn significant calories whilst skipping and are great for increasing upper body strength and facilitating weight loss.
Jump ropes - this is just another name for skipping rope. Americans call it a jump rope whilst the English call it a skipping rope.
Now let’s turn to the actual rope - the part between the two handles. The length of rope can be made out of different materials.
Vinyl/PVC - lighter and thinner material that offers good speed. They tend to be quite durable and ideal for users looking for a general workout.
Leather - this is heavier than vinyl/PVC ropes and therefore offers more of a workout for the user. It needs more effort to skip and offers moderate swing speed however don’t leave a leather rope out in the rain as the water will shorten the life of your rope.
Cable ropes - often made of steel with a vinyl covering, these offer stiffness and weight and have a thin diameter. This makes them a lot faster than vinyl or leather ropes. As they are heavier and faster, they tend to be used by more experienced users as a crack on the back of the legs from one of these can be quite painful.
Handles vary between ropes quite significantly. Back in the day most handles seemed to be wooden chunky things but the skipping world has moved on a lot and handle technology has greatly improved.
Skipping ropes often have thick handles, particularly if they are weighted ropes. This is because the handles are where a lot of extra weight can be added. However, for general ropes, it is is more common to see very thin handles whose sole function is to help you grip each end of the rope. Often the end of the cable fits into the end of the handle. Nonetheless, the most efficient way to swing a rope quickly is to use a rope where the handles are attached to the cable at a 90 degree angle.
One last important factor when choosing a skipping rope is its length. If a rope is too short you will struggle to jump over it. If it is too long it will slow down when hitting the ground and you risk tripping. So what is the right length for you? If you step on the centre of the rope and pull the handles up, the ends of the rope should reach your armpits. Another quick guide is to add 3 feet to your height, so if your height is 6ft, a 9ft rope should be suitable for most users.
However, if you are not sure, there are plenty of ropes on the market which are adjustable. This means that the length of the rope can be easily changed which is ideal if your training involves changing the rope length or if you share a rope with somebody else.
So in summary, a skipping rope and a jump rope are the same thing - a good rope for improving endurance, fitness and co-ordination, whilst a speed rope is better if you are looking to turn the rope quickly. Once you have decided between a skipping rope and a speed rope, the other choice is what material you want the actual rope to be made of and whether or not you want weighted handles. It all hangs on what you want to use your rope for.