EYC Podcast #34 – Key Technical Aspects of the Crossover
What’s up guys this is Kas with EYC and welcome to episode #34 of the podcast. The Crossover is one of the most well-known jump rope techniques, and often one that newer jumpers gravitate towards once they feel they have a baseline competency in the standard Bounce Step, and perhaps even the Alternate Step. Because of this, I thought it would be a great trick to elaborate on so that jumpers of all skill levels, but particularly beginners, can go into it with a clearer strategy. In order to do this, I am going to target two areas, the first being Global Considerations, then technical aspects specific to the Crossover. The global considerations are points that don’t necessarily apply to the Crossover specifically, but allow you to perform more effectively overall, and reach the goal of proper execution of the Crossover more quickly.
1.Proper Rope Length
I’ve drilled this point many times in the work I’ve done related to jump rope, however this is for good reason. You want to set yourself up for success as early as possible in the process, and proper rope length is crucial in this. I’ve discussed and demonstrated proper rope length for your height in episode #2 of the EYC Vlog so be sure to check that out, but its importance lies in how it affects technique if it is not set properly. A rope that is too long for your height will experience excessive air drag, slowing your rotations. It will also make too much contact with the ground, further slowing the rope down, but also causing it to bounce which can potentially cause catches. Often the practitioner will compensate for this by positioning the hands higher up along the body creating inefficiencies, greater fatigue, and limiting overall speed and hand quickness. Raising the hands can happen instinctively so the practitioner might not even realize they are doing it. Be aware, and train in front of the mirror. Having a rope that is too short for your skill level will also put you at a disadvantage. Unless you are a seasoned jumper, you understand, and can handle the changes that occur with a shorter rope, you want to stick to a rope length based on my video demonstration. A rope that is too short for your skill level will make it difficult to create a large enough arc to jump through. It also demands greater speed, accuracy, and efficiency that a beginner is not prepared to deal with. This will create unneeded frustration, and reduce the overall quality of training.
2.Competency in the Bounce Step and Alternate Step
This is a point that I can’t drive home hard enough. It is very important that a core competency and proper foundation are built in the fundamentals so that Crossover training is fruitful and productive. Competency in the Bounce Step and Alternate step will ensure that proper technique, comfort, proprioception, and requisite consistency are there so they can be translated over to Crossover training. If inconsistencies and inefficiencies are left unchecked, they will create even further issues in Crossover training, creating frustration, and bad habits that will have to be unlearned later on. I spoke in detail about this topic in episodes 30, and 33 of the podcast so I recommend checking those out. But this unlearning, or breaking of bad habits is difficult and tedious so I always encourage putting extra time into developing proper technique as early as possible in the process. As a guide, you should be able to perform a minimum of 300, ideally 500, uninterrupted, and clean Bounce Steps and Alternate Steps, without catches. Once this can be achieved consistently, you are well positioned to begin training the Crossover.
3.Learning the Side Swing
Learning the Side Swing isn’t a necessity before learning the Crossover, however I have found that it is a very useful tool to in breaking down your training into more manageable steps, especially if Crossover training is too challenging for the moment. This is because it helps the practitioner develop a comfort in moving the arms in front of the body while jumping. It may not seem like a daunting task at first, however there are many moving parts to consider which can be overwhelming when new to the trick. The Crossover involves crossing both arms in front of the body which demands greater independence in each limb, while also maintaining rhythm and clean jumps. The Side Swing can be a great stepping stone to the Crossover because it involves bringing the arms across the body in unison which is initially easier to deal with, and helps to develop preliminary mechanics. Furthermore, Side Swings can be trained without jumping so the mechanics of the upper body can be developed before incorporating jumps into your training. The more you can develop your mechanics, in any case really, before incorporating a jump, the less you have to think of them when you do begin to practice with a jump. This will make the task less daunting, and allow you to put a little more focus into your overall rhythm, and getting accustomed to the movement.
4.Training in Front of the Mirror
It is crucial to train in front of the mirror in order to asses your technique in real time. It will provide valuable insight into your training, especially when mistakes are made. The key is paying close attention. I speak about this in more detail in episode #9 of the EYC vlog so I am not going to get into it too much here, but I can’t stress enough the importance of it. It goes hand in hand with the technical aspects I’ll be speaking about in a second because the mirror will give you a clearer picture of where you are and where improvements can be made. It will also give you an idea of how you are making your mistakes so they can be corrected. The keyword there is HOW you are making your mistakes. Often we rush out of our errors to get back into jumping, but it’s valuable to freeze, take a look at things like your hand positioning, the rope, your posture, where the rope caught, and at what point you are at within the technique you are practicing. In other words, assessing the technical aspects of your jumping.
With that, I want to transition into the technical aspects of the Crossover.
Technical Aspects of the Crossover
To successfully complete the Crossover, a wide enough arc in the rope must be created to allow the body to jump through. This is even more of a factor at the beginning stages because pinpoint skill and mechanics have not been developed yet. As one becomes more advanced, a smaller margin of error can be introduced, however in the early stages we want to focus on developing technique and proprioception. Important factors in achieving a wide enough rope arc are proper rope length, and frequent drilling of the mechanics. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent simply moving the rope handles from point A to point B without swinging the rope, or jumping. This helps develop muscle memory, consistency, and will give you a good idea of whether or not the base of your rope arc will be wide enough or not. While most shouldn’t have a problem crossing both arms in front, those with limited shoulder mobility may benefit from shoulder stretches, eventually allowing them to cross the arms a little farther without having to bend and close the chest off too much. Another option is to use a rope with longer handles that will create a wider base without having to cross the arms farther. Keep in mind, if using longer handles, this wider base will reduce the height of the arc slightly, so you may need to adjust your rope length accordingly, especially if your grip is very low on the handles like mine. I prefer long handled ropes because I employ a lot of cross-body tricks in my training and they give me a little more wiggle room.
2.Handles Parallel To the Ground
Keeping the handles as parallel to the ground as possible is important because it creates a clean, even arc, and will help maximize its width. Furthermore, it allows for smoother rotation of the rope which will keep your speed consistent. This is another area where drilling of the mechanics comes into play because eventually you’ll keep the handles parallel to the ground instinctively. The most common error I have seen among beginners is turning the handles upward, or perpendicular to the ground, when executing the Crossover. This can occur in both hands, or in one, even though the handles may be parallel during their regular Bounce, or Alternate step. Either outcome will slow rotation of the rope, and increase the height of the arc, and in turn, reduce its base width making it more difficult to jump through. If only one handle is turned upward, this will still affect the speed of the rope and width of the arc, creating potential for catches. A great way to assess your technique is by video recording your training and viewing it afterward, or keeping an eye on your technique in real-time using the mirror. Pay close attention to the arc of the rope, as well as where the handles are pointing. If you are noticing flaws in technique, slow things down, cease jumping and drill mechanics individually. Alternatively, do single jumps and assess how the rope is reacting. Keep your technique clean, and the rope will react in a predictable fashion.
3.Keeping the Hands at Waist Height
This is a technical aspect that translates right from the Bounce and Alternate steps. It is important because it keeps the arc at an appropriate height and width to jump through. It also creates efficient mechanical movements that will benefit endurance if you plan on jumping for longer periods. It is common for the practitioner, especially at the beginning stages, to cross by bending to a greater degree at the elbow bringing the handles upward, as opposed to crossing the arms with the handles along the same horizontal plane as the waist. The goal is essentially to mimic the positioning of the arms in your standard Bounce Step technique, but flipped horizontally. As mentioned, increased bending at the elbow will bring the handles upward increasing the height of the arc, and minimizing the space available to jump through. Furthermore, this bending of the elbows is conducive to keeping the handles perpendicular to the ground as opposed to parallel, which we discussed previously.
4.Wrist Rotation Speed
This last technical aspect is mostly applicable when performing more than one Crossover consecutively so I wouldn’t worry too much about it when your goal is to perform one Crossover, however I thought I would include it as a bonus for those looking to get a little more out of their training. Wrist rotation speed is the final technical aspect I’ll discuss here, and one that has a subtle but important affect on your multiple consecutive Crossover success. If the wrists aren’t rotating at the same speed, it will be very difficult to maintain an even rope arc negatively affecting rhythm, and your ability to jump through the arc. The ideal scenario is both wrists are rotating at an equal speed, which is much harder to achieve than it may seem. This is because when the arms are crossed, we are in a less favourable position to rotate the rope, and the wrists are forced to not only work a little harder, but to also do so from a less familiar position. To be clear, what I mean by less familiar position is, when performing the bounce step, the palms face forward, and we are rotating the rope forward. When we cross, the palms are facing backwards, but we are still required to rotate the rope forward. Often, when attempting multiple consecutive Crossovers, the practitioner is not used to being in a less favourable overall position, or dealing with this change in wrist technique. The byproduct of this is most likely unsuccessful completion of the trick and/or uneven wrist speed. Some ways of dealing with uneven wrist rotation speed are, become highly competent in single Crossovers, practice the Bounce Step with backward rotation of the rope, and improve overall grip strength by using a long handled rope. The Bounce Step with backward rotation of the rope is especially important here because it will prepare your wrists for effective rotation in the palm facing backward position. On a final note, and this goes for the single Crossover as well, you may favour bringing one arm to the front during the Crossover over the other, but practice both positions. I can’t stress this enough. Practice with the left arm in the lead, and put just as much attention to the right arm in the lead. My philosophy has always been, if I can complete the trick on one side, but not the other, I’m only half way.
These technical aspects of the Crossover work synergistically as well. Improving one, will likely improve another. For example, wrist rotation speed is maximized when keeping the hands at waist height, and cross width is maximized by keeping the handles as parallel to the ground as possible. The opposite is true also. If you are able to keep the hands at waist height consistently, you are creating a favourable environment for optimizing wrist rotation speed. Building on that, the global considerations will ensure you are setup for success for the start, and that you have, and can improve the foundational requirements for tackling the Crossover. On a final note, one topic I didn’t bring up is rope type, even though it can have an affect on your Crossover training. The trick can be achieved with really any jump rope, however it is useful to understand which rope type will make it a little easier, or a little more difficult. I won’t get into it here, but I did want to mention episode #27 of the podcast because I do go over the different rope types, and their attributes.
That’s it for this episode friends. Be sure to check out the Youtube channel as well as my other social media accounts. I have lots of jump rope video on there where you can get a visual of what I am talking about, in this episode, and all others.