Jumping rope has many benefits for young hockey players. When performed correctly jumping rope is an excellent training and development tool. It’s an activity that is both efficient and effective for reinforcing sound movement patterns. It helps improve stamina, develops coordination including balance, rhythm and timing, helps to develop speed and agility as well as strength and power. Jump ropes are inexpensive to purchase and are easily carried in your child’s hockey bag to and from the rink. There are many types of jump ropes available but a basic speed rope is more than adequate to serve the needs of your child for many years.
When performed on a regular basis young hockey players will quickly learn the techniques necessary to be successful and will not only improve their fitness and conditioning levels but will improve their confidence and self-esteem as well.
Not unlike your child’s hockey stick, your child’s jump rope needs to be sized correctly. To determine the appropriate rope length, have your child stand on the centre of the cord and pull the handles vertically towards their shoulders. Rule of thumb is to have the handle tips reach the armpits. If the handles go past the armpits the rope is too long. If the handles don’t reach the armpits the rope is too short. Also, as the rope is jumped, it should brush the floor beneath the feet. If the cord doesn’t touch the floor, the rope is too short. If the cord hits the floor in front of the skipper, the rope is too long and should be shortened. To shorten a rope that is too long simply tie knots in the chord below the handles until the desired length of rope is achieved. If the rope is too short you will need a longer rope.
The handles should always point outward and away from the body. A portion of the handle should protrude out from the hands so the cord will turn freely without contacting any part of the body. The wider end of the handle should be nestled in the palm with the fingers gripping the narrower end near where the cord exits the handle.
For best results, stand tall with erect posture looking straight ahead. Legs are together and takeoff and landing is done with the feet jumping just high enough to clear the rope. Landing is on the balls of the feet with the knees slightly bent to absorb the impact.
When kids first start jumping rope they may jump with a double bounce. A double bounce is a jump with a small rebound jump between each turn of the rope. In order to progress with the various skills and drills encourage your child to use a single jump between each turn of the rope without the added rebound jump.
Starting with the basic two foot jump, encourage kids to challenge themselves to 25, 50 or even 100 consecutive jumps. Once kids master the basic two foot jump, progressions with various foot patterns and turning options can be introduced. These include:
Other jump rope progressions include one foot skills such as boxer, alternating step, heel tap, toe tap, high step and kick step. Additional progressions include front cross, side swing and double unders. All patterns can be performed both frontwards and backwards.
When teaching new progressions ‘be sure to break down skills with the rope turning beside the body, both handles in one hand,' says Canadian jump rope presenter and author Liz Way, 'as this will help with coordinating the jumping and turning before attempting to jump the rope as well as keep kids who need more practice engaged'.
Jumping rope can either be performed in place or while moving from point A to point B. Kids can jump rope while moving forwards, backwards and sideways between the cones. Encourage the kids to be creative using mastered skills as well as inventing their own.
Like any other form of exercise never compromise quality for quantity. Progress slow to fast and simple to complex. When practiced daily, kids quickly master the art of jumping rope and begin feeling successful. Five minutes a day is more conducive to learning than thirty-five minutes once a week.
Jumping rope is a fun activity that can either be done by oneself or in a team setting. Provide a safe, positive and upbeat learning environment and your kids will be well on their way to improving their fitness and athleticism that no hockey player should be without.
David Kittner, aka the Youth Fitness Guy, is a passionate, caring and dedicated individual with over twenty years’ experience working with children.
David conducts athletic training and development programs, workshops and clinics for youth athletes, youth sports teams, parents, teachers and coaches, and internationally presents at Fitness, Coaching and Physical Education conferences.
He serves as the Youth Fitness Contributor for CTV Ottawa Morning Live and for TV Cogeco’s Wallis on Wellness. David is also a contributing author for the international bestselling book, The Definitive Guide to Youth Athletic Strength, Conditioning and Performance.
For more information and to contact David please call 647-504-7638 or visit his web site at www.YouthFitnessGuy.com.