What’s Chinese Jump Rope?

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Chinese Jump Rope is a popular game worldwide, played with a strong piece of string and good hand-eye coordination. It can be played by as few as three players and has a variety of jumping patterns. The game dates back to the seventh century in China and was rediscovered by American children in the 1950s.

Chinese Jump Rope is a rope jumping game that is popular all over the world. Central European children call it gummitwist, while children in Great Britain and New Zealand call the game “Elastics”. Truly a universal game, it is popular in Austria, Italy, Germany and Austria, among many other countries.
One of the reasons for the Chinese jump rope’s worldwide popularity is the fact that while the moves can be quite challenging, the game itself is very simple. There is no need to purchase expensive equipment as all players need is a strong piece of string, some stamina and good hand-eye coordination.

Chinese Jump Rope can be played by as few as three players, although more people can participate and large groups can make the game even more of a social activity. To play this jumping game, a piece of rope, bungee cord, or three-meter-long rope must be tied into a loop. Two players, called “supports” or “enders,” place this circle of rope around their ankles and spread their feet far enough so that the rope is taut and doesn’t touch the ground. A third player, called a “jumper”, must then complete a specific pattern of jumps without making any mistakes.

Before starting a round of Chinese skipping rope, players must choose which jumping pattern is to be followed. There are a variety of jumping patterns, many of which have a specific chant assigned to them. In the basic level of Chinese skipping rope, the jumper first jumps so that both feet land inside the rope, then with both feet straddle the ropes on either side. The jumper then alternately straddles the single rope on each side, then puts both feet back inside the rope and then straddles the rope again. The final jump finds the left foot over the left rope and the right foot over the right rope. To help them remember the pattern, jumpers usually sing “in-out-side-in-out-on.”

There are numerous variations on this basic level. Two popular variations include “skinnies,” where holders hold the rope with only one foot so there’s little room to jump between the ropes, and “wides,” where holders spread their feet as wide apart as possible so the ropes are distant. Another common version is “diamonds,” where the holders hold the rope with one foot while the jumper moves their feet to form a diamond pattern.

One of the more complex jumping patterns is called “scissors”. The jumper starts with both feet straddling the rope, then crosses their legs as they drag the ropes so they form a scissor shape. In a variation of the scissors, the ropes are crossed in an X pattern and the jumpers move their feet in various parts of the X.

Whichever jumping pattern the players choose, the jumper must complete the moves in one smooth motion without any missteps, pauses or interruptions. With each successful rotation, the rope is moved further up the body. The common progression is ankles, mid-shin, knees, mid-thigh, hip, armpit, and neck.
However, if the jumper fails to complete the pattern for any reason then he is out. Players then rotate their positions and the next player becomes the jumper. Once a player is done, that person switches to one of the other people and so on, until everyone has had a chance to play.

The earliest documented evidence of the Chinese skipping rope dates back to the seventh century when the children of China were seen playing in the streets. Rediscovered by American children in the 1950s, it remained a popular game well into the 1980s.

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