History of the Jump Rope


You may have fond memories of skipping rope as a child, or watching kids playing double Dutch in the streets on hot summer days, but do you know how jump rope came to be? Ever wonder who was the first to think to pick up a rope and start jumping over it; probably not. But if you did here are a few answers to quench your thirst for knowledge.

Jump Rope the Early Years

You might be surprised to know that the practice of jumping rope actually dates all the way back to 1600 A.D. Although the inventor of the jump rope is not known, there is evidence that some form of rope jumping was taking place in ancient China and that the original Western style jump rope began to surface in Egypt at about 1600 A.D. At the same time in Australia the aborigines were using vines and bamboo sticks to play early versions of jump rope.

This form of play traveled with children as their families migrated from Europe throughout the Netherlands, and on to North America; with it being introduced in America by the early Dutch settlers, which is where some historians believe the name Double Dutch came from.

The Modern Years

In modern history jump rope was most popular in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and the 1970’s. With the popularization of television children began to become less active and more focused on watching T.V. in the 1960’s, but returned to jumping rope as American’s again became focused on being physically fit in the 1970’s.

Another reason for the return in popularity of jumping rope in the 1970’s and 1980’s was that it was used as a method of keeping children engaged in some form of healthy activity to keep them from falling into less healthy situations such as drug, gangs, and alcohol abuse. Many clubs and even national competitions were established to promote the activity for this reason.

Since then the jump rope has become an integral part of the health and fitness community playing a role in many different exercise modalities. Besides being a vital part of the cardio workout for boxers, it is also used in Pilate’s, Bootcamps, and physical education classes at all school levels.

Why Jumping

It is believed that jumping rope developed out of an instinctive need for man to jump. For early man jumping was vital to survival for the purpose of escaping predators, harvesting food from trees, and combat. This natural reflex was then incorporated in to dance rituals, competitions, and games for children to develop these important survival skills.

Jumping is not only an innate instinct, it is also considered a low impact form of cardio that strengthens the heart while improving mobility, flexibility, coordination, and endurance which is why athletes around the world use jump roping as a significant part of their training and workout regimen.

Jump rope is a fond memory for most people, however the roots of this popular children’s game reach farther back in history than many would have thought; and are directly linked to the human being’s instinctual need to jump in their efforts to survive as a species.