What is Double Dutch?


I’ve been jumping rope for years, but I’ve never played Double Dutch. I knew what it was and how it’s played, but there’s a lot I didn’t know. I decided I’d do some research and learn everything there is to know about Double Dutch.

Double Dutch is a game where two long jump ropes are swung, in opposite directions, while one or more players jump over them. It requires at least three people to play (2 Turners and 1 Jumper). It’s believed the game was originally introduced by the Dutch, when they settled in Manhattan in 1624.

Although the game was introduced by the Dutch, in the 1600s, evidence suggests Double Dutch dates back much further. I talk about the true origin of Double Dutch in the next section.

Also, if you’re looking for a good jump rope for Double Dutch, I’ve included a few recommendations below. There are some tips for making sure you get the right size too.

Why is it Called Double Dutch?

The game Double Dutch was introduced to the United States by the Dutch, after settling along the eastern coast of the United States in 1624. When the English saw the Dutch children playing the game, they gave it the name “Double Dutch”.

The truth is, the first game of Double Dutch was played well before the 1600s, and not in the Netherlands either. Like the French fry (which was actually invented in Belgium), the game Double Dutch isn’t actually Dutch at all.

“David A. Walker, the founder of the sport, traces the probable origins to ancient Phoenician, Egyptian and Chinese ropemakers”

The process these ancient cultures used to create rope required someone to spin the rope (Spinners) and someone to supply the Spinners with material to make the rope (Runners). The Runners, while running around supplying the Spinners with hemp, would have to jump over all the ropes being spun.

The theory is these Runners, Spinners, and their families created a game from that process. The game was then past down, generation after generation. This is believed to be the true origin of Double Dutch.

How To Double Dutch (Double Dutch 101)

  1. Pick your team (at least 3 people)
  2. Select your Double Dutch jump rope (get the right length)
  3. Turners get in position (leave plenty slack in the rope)
  4. Practice spinning the rope (find your rhythm)
  5. Jumper get in position (stand next to a Turner)
  6. Jump in!

1. Pick your team (need at least 3 people)

In order to play a proper game of Double Dutch, you need at least three people willing to play. To start, pick three friends and designate two of them as Turners and one as the Jumper. You can alternate, so it doesn’t matter who does what first.

2. Select your Double Dutch jump rope (get the right length)

Picking the right Double Dutch jump rope is important as well. The easiest rope for beginners is a beaded Double Dutch jump rope (see my recommendation below). Also, for a three player team (1 Jumper and 2 Turners) you’ll want to go with a 12 foot jump rope.

If you’re more advanced and would like to accommodate two Jumpers, I’d suggest going with a 14 foot rope.

3. Turners get in position (leave plenty slack in the rope)

To begin, have the the Turners grab one end of each rope and stand across from each other. There should be enough slack in both ropes for the ropes to clear the Jumper’s head when spinning it.

The way the Turners hold the rope is important as well. Whether the handle/knot is held up, down or in the palm of their hand, it should be held the same by both Turners.

4. Practice turning the rope (find your rhythm):

To turn the rope, rotate each rope in a circular motion turning inwards. You should be alternating between hands. One hand should be turning clockwise, while the other turns counterclockwise. It’s not as easy as it looks! Allow the Turners to practice before attempting to jump in.

5. Jumper get in position (stand next to a Turner)

Once the Turners have found their rhythm, it’s time for the Jumper to get in position. Start by having the Jumper stand next to one of the Turners. They should stand at least half a foot from the Turner to keep from tripping up the rope.

6. Jump in!

How you enter and exit the ropes is key to being successful. Before jumping in, watch the ropes for a moment to get the rhythm of the swing. When you’re ready, wait for one of the ropes to reach it’s highest point then jump in.

If you’re standing to the right of the turner, wait until the rope on the right reaches its highest point. If you’re entering on the left, wait until the left rope reaches its highest point.

Is Double Dutch a Sport?

Double Dutch is a sport! It’s one of three categories included in most competitive jump rope tournaments. The three categories are Individual, Pairs, and Double Dutch. Athletes can compete in a variety of events within those categories including Freestyle, Speed, and Power.

Double Dutch Freestyle:

Think of Double Dutch Freestyle as more of a choreographed dance. Teams of three will prepare a routine (usually 60-90 seconds long) where they showcase intricate tricks, speed, Turner/Jumper transitions, and power for the ultimate jump rope performance.

Double Dutch Speed:

The goal in the Double Dutch Speed event is for the Jumper to complete as many jumps as possible in the allotted time. Teams are usually given 60 seconds per round. It’s really about fast feet for the Jumper and quick hands for the Turners.

Double Dutch Power:

In the Double Dutch Power event, teams of three score points based on how many double unders they’re able to complete in the given time (usually 60 seconds). A double under, in Double Dutch, is when the Jumper jumps over both ropes in a single jump.

Is Double Dutch an Olympic Sport?

I actually wrote an entire article on competitive jump rope and its relationship with the Olympic Games. I’ll include a link at the end of this section for anyone interested.

Double Dutch is not an Olympic Sport. The entire sport of jump rope is still not recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which includes Double Dutch. Technically, Double Dutch is not a sport, but rather a category within the sport of jump rope.

The process for becoming a recognized sport is tricky. The Committee requires the sport be administered by an “International nongovernmental organization that oversees at least one sport”. That, in itself, is not an easy feat.

Even then, getting official recognition from the IOC doesn’t necessarily admit the sport into the Olympic Games. There’s a long list of sports currently recognized by the IOC, but not included in the Olympics. Chess and Squash are a couple examples of such sports.

Once recognized, the sport moves to “International Sports Federation” (IF) status. At this stage, the organization administering the sport needs to comply with a variety of rules and regulations including enforcement of the “Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code”.

Assuming the sport is compliant, the organization administering the sport would then apply for inclusion in the Olympic Games. Still, recognized and compliant sports aren’t guaranteed a spot in the program.

There’s obviously a lot more to it. Bottom line, Double Dutch is not an Olympic Sport, yet!

For more info, check out my article: The Sport of Jump Rope

What Kind of Rope Do You Use for Double Dutch?

There’s a pretty big selection of jump ropes online. With all the different lengths, weight, and materials to choose from, it helps to have a guide. You can narrow your selection by figuring out the skill level of the people using the rope and what they’ll be using it for.

Beginner?

If you’re new to Double Dutch, or looking for a good Double Dutch jump rope for your child, a beaded jump rope is going to be your best bet. The added weight of the beads makes it easier to spin and easier to control the speed of the rope.

Your best option for a beaded Double Dutch jump rope is the Signature Beaded Double Dutch Jump Rope, by BuyJumpRopes. They make a fantastic product – lightweight, durable beads, and comes in a variety of colors.

Check availability and price on Amazon

Advanced?

If you’ve been jumping rope for a while, even if you’ve never played Double Dutch, you might consider getting a jump rope made of licorice/PVC cord. The PVC cord material is commonly used by competitive Double Dutch teams. You’ll find it’s faster than the beaded jump rope, while still easy to control.

If you end up going this route, I’d check out the Licorice Double Dutch Jump Rope, by BuyJumpRopes. Comfortable handle, easily adjustable, with a 4mm PVC cord.

Check availability and price on BuyJumpRopes

Competing?

If you’re looking to compete, or you’ve got an upcoming competition, I’d suggest buying a Nylon (or another durable cloth) Double Dutch jump rope. That said, it’s important to review the handbook from the organization holding the competition. There are usually some pretty clear rules on what materials can and cannot be used.

Here is the handbook for the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) jump rope competition, as an example.

For a solid Double Dutch competition jump rope, your best bet is the Competition Cloth Double Dutch Jump Rope, by BuyJumpRopes. Woven nylon rope, available in two sizes and three colors.

Check availability and price on BuyJumpRopes

How Long Should a Double Dutch Rope Be?

Whether jumping rope by yourself or playing Double Dutch, it’s important you select the right length rope. So, what’s the perfect length? How long should a Double Dutch rope be?

The length of your Double Dutch jump rope depends on how many people will be jumping simultaneously. To accommodate one Jumper, a 12 foot jump rope is sufficient. For two Jumpers, a 14 foot rope, three Jumpers, a 16 foot rope, and for four Jumpers a 20 foot rope.

Good Luck!

Will Holmes

Former personal trainer and athlete, currently working full-time as a health and fitness writer. Getting in shape, losing weight, and eating better, isn't always easy. It helps to have a friend... that's me, I'm the friend! Sincerely, Your biggest fan

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