Many top athletes with the best footwork in the world train using a jump rope. Why is that and what sets them apart? The reason so many athletes train with the jump rope is because it physically conditions your body to be quick and explosive off the ground. Jumping rope can also train your mind to control your footwork in a very precise way that allows your body to generate extremely rapid movement. However, this mental conditioning will not happen unless you know how to practice it. The mental conditioning has to do with the specific way athletes use their jump rope.
There are three things you are probably not aware of about jumping rope that helps boxers and soccer players and other athletes achieve amazing foot speed. Those things are rhythm, counting and foot patterns. Counting out various foot patterns while jumping creates a rhythm. The foot patterns require you to move from one foot to the other at different intervals and in different directions. While practicing these patterns the sound your feet and the rope make hitting the ground takes on a syncopated quality.
A unique feature of jumping rope in this way is that it combines two of the highest forms of human performances; sports and music. In music, you practice a pattern until it goes from awkward and difficult to natural and effortless. This can also be done with a jump rope. Work on different foot patterns, left, left, right, right. Jump twice between turns or jump once. Lunge forward, lunge back, switch feet, one footed, move to the left, move to the right, heel –toe, high knees etc. See what you can come up with. You will literally stumble upon new foot pattern all the time. It is challenging and fun.
Just like practicing music, you will be working on some pattern for a while, maybe 1-2 minutes then you mess up mostly because of either mental or physical fatigue. Take a breather for a minute then start back again. Do that for 20-30 minutes every other day and you will find your footwork and speed improving rapidly. You will also experience the fringe benefit of weight loss and you might even learn a new dance step or two. Not bad for a $10 kid’s toy.