Jumping or skipping rope is one of the simplest of all training programs. Jump rope routines are adaptable to almost any sport, because the act of jumping rope develops the universally beneficial combination of manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and stamina. The skipping rope may be seen by some as a children's game, but it has wide-ranging applications to most athletic activities, particularly as a cross training exercise.
Boxing is the sport most often associated with the use of the jump rope as a training aid. As a discipline where leg strength and explosiveness is essential to putting the body into the correct position to deliver a punch, boxers would often skip for lengthy periods both before and after their sparring sessions or other gym workouts. In recent years, skipping rope has been crafted into a more formalized part of the training of many athletes.
Jumping rope has an appeal as an athletic training system for a number of physiological reasons. The act of repetitively swinging the rope in a circular motion around the body is a useful form of cardiovascular training, as the exercise will naturally elevate the heart and respiratory rates of the athlete. The athlete is required to use the muscular power of the arms and the more explosive muscles of the legs to maintain the rhythm of the skipping motion. The length of the skipping session also dictates what energy system of the body will be utilized—it is a simple matter to craft short, intense skipping training segments that are designed to work the anaerobic systems; if the athlete is required to skip for segments longer than two minutes at a time, the aerobic energy system will be stressed.
A key aspect of skipping rope is the whole body coordination demanded to perform the skipping movements. The footwork and arm motions of skipping may be varied in both intensity as well as cadence. Coupled with other programs such as stretching or various forms of weight training, skipping rope can be the center piece of an intense conditioning program, as the energy required to skip is significant when calculated on a calories-expended-per-minute basis. While skipping rope at intense levels may have significant plyometrics effects on the muscles of the lower legs, skipping at a moderate pace is a useful form of rehabilitation for many injuries.