Competitive jump rope, or competitive rope skipping as it it sometimes called, is a sport in which athletes perform various skills and tricks using a skipping rope. There are a number of different individual, pairs & team events using single or double ropes. There are three main types of events - freestyle, sprint and relay.
At competitions, athletes compete in divisions by age & gender, with mixed gender events taking place as well. At smaller, local tournaments there may be divisions by skill level as well, allowing novice athletes a chance to complete against others who have recently taken up the sport.
In freestyle events, athletes have a set time limit to demonstrate a combination of skills which are choreographed to music. Athletes are judged on the elements in their routine for required elements, difficulty & presentation. In some ways, these events are similar to gymnastics floor events.
During the speed events, athletes try to complete as many jumps as possible within a particular amount of time. There are individual single rope events, as well as team double rope events. These events test the speed, endurance & coordination of the athletes involved. During speed sprint events, the rope moves at upwards of 130 km/hr (80 mph)!
Relay events involve groups of athletes competing in succession, attempting to complete as many jumps as possible as a team within a given timeframe. Some examples of these events are the Single Rope Speed Relay and the Double Dutch Speed Relay.
There are competitive jump rope teams around the world. These teams generally belong to an organizing body in their home country that plans tournaments at the local, provincial/state level, and national level. Athletes typically have to qualify to compete at tournaments at the national level by placing among the top athletes in their age & gender categories.
Athletes who place among the top at national tournaments within their home country can qualify to compete at an international championship involving the best jump rope athletes from around the world. This tournament is organized by the International Jump Rope Union (IJRU), and is known around the sport as The Worlds.
Most teams practice for at least 9 months a year, several times per week. Serious jump rope athletes train rigorously year-round. Jumping rope takes immense strength, endurance, focus, and patience.
Many teams also offer recreational classes as an introduction to the sport, allowing kids, teens and even adults to get involved in the sport of jump rope in an environment that is not competitive. As skills develop, the members of the recreational team may be invited to try out for the competitive team.
Competitive jump rope teams attend workshops, training camps, perform exhibitions for the public, and compete against each other throughout the year. Competing teams consist of athletes of all ages, but are most commonly elementary to high school-aged individuals.
In Canada, the governing jump rope organization is the Canadian Rope Skipping Federation, with assistance from its provincial counterparts such as the Ontario Rope Skipping Organization. With 41 Jump Rope teams and almost 1400 competitive jump rope athletes, Canada makes up about 10% of the world-wide jump rope community of 400 teams and 13,000 athletes.