Jump Rope History

Jumping rope is a fun exercise activity and a favorite among children and adults alike.

The questions remain:

  • Who invented the jump rope?
  • What was the purpose of the original jump rope?
  • Was the jump rope always used for exercise and fun?

So many questions about this small simple piece of rope we now use for jumping we now call a jump rope.

Let’s take a look at the jump rope history, to shine some light on how and when the jump rope came to be.

When Was the Jump Rope Created?

The invention of the jump rope is not traced back to a single individual or a single year in history. There is no recorded history on who came up with the idea of a jump rope (Sources like Wikipedia on Skipping Rope has no info on the history). Jump Rope Institute date jumping rope to ancient China for a version of jumping rope to 1600 A.D. Egypt. Although the migration of jumping rope was not tracked, it is believed jumping rope started to take off in Europe then came to the USA.

​Who Invented The Jump Rope?

ll that is known about “skipping ropes” is that they date all the way back to ancient times, the modern version of the jump rope is dated back to Egypt around 1600 A.D.

There are also rumors that it was also found, during this time, in China as well. There have even been painting that has been found, of children who are using a jump rope in these ancient times. Since there are no specific records that indicate when or who created the jump rope, all we can assume is that somehow, in this time and age, they became popular among the children in Egypt and China and that it is most likely a child who founded and invented the jump rope in the first place. Still, there is no hard evidence to prove this theory.

Jump Rope Popularity Over Time

Even though it has been rumored to have been created back in Egypt around 1600 A.D, the popularity of the jump rope did not grow until around the 1940s and the 1950s. There were many children in these times that used these skipping ropes for their daily playtime activities, and they incorporated them into many areas of their playtime. The fact that these ropes were so easy to use, and they were incredibly fun to play with, is a shock since it is simply a piece of rope that they were using. Later in the 1960s, the jump rope lost some of its spark and excitement until it reached popularity again in the 1970s. This was the time when exercising became a huge fad, and jump ropes were used in many of the exercising routines. These ropes have continued to be a favorite in the exercising world, and continue to be used as such along with still being a popular toy that children play with as well. As we all know, skipping has been a form of exercise and warm-up routines when it comes to fitness, and jump ropes are the items that are specifically used for these types of activities. It will continue to be one of the most popular items that can be found in the fitness world and are one of the most used items when it comes to getting into shape and losing weight.

​History Of The Chinese Jump Rope And When Was It Invented?

​The Chinese jump rope is another popular jump rope that was also invented back in the ancient times of China when children used to play with this rope all day. It is a form of play that has been enjoyed by so many children from all around the world, and it continues to be the same in today’s day and age as well. It is a mixture of hopscotch and double-dutch, and it involves at least 3 children, or individuals, to accomplish the art of this game. Not only was it used as a game among the children, but it also was, and still is, considered to be a very beneficial art of play for the health. This game of Chinese jump rope, is considered to be a very wonderful and beneficial cardiovascular exercise, and it continues to aid in physical fitness routines as well. You can find this jump rope in many different places of fitness and its health benefits are amazing. In the 1960s, this jump rope became very popular in the United States, and its popularity found its way into many other countries as well, and these include Canada and Europe. The Chinese jump rope does have many other names that it goes by and these include Gummitwist, Elastics, Yoki, and Chinese Garters. This game is continued to be played in the festivities of the Chinese New Year as well. The individual who created the Chinese jump rope has not been recorded either, however, many believe that it was the invention of an energetic child who came up with the idea for the game. There isn’t anyone who specifically came up with the idea for a Chinese jump rope, and the date of this type of game has been assumed to be a very long time ago. It probably was created around the same time as the rope was invented, and a child came along and thought up the game just by picking up a piece of rope.

​Where Did Double-Dutch Jump Rope Start?

Double Dutch is a jump rope game that requires two long ropes turned simultaneously in opposite directions while one or more players jump in and out of the ropes. The game’s unique moniker is attributed to the belief that it was invented by Dutch immigrants who moved to New York City.

During the mid-twentieth century, the game was quite popular with African-American girls in NYC. It became a widespread phenomenon in the 1970s after being popularized as a sport by two NYPD officers, David Walker and Ulysses Williams, who created a formal rule set for the game. The first competitions were held in 1974 after Double Dutch became an official sport. 

The founding of the sport of double-dutch finds its traces back to the ancient times of Egyptian, Phoenician, and Chinese ropemakers. Double-dutch was not just considered to be a sport, but it was also developed, and played, by the most talented and experienced individuals. It is a form of rope play that was not designed simply by children, but it had an art form, a sense of balance, and a practiced art that several individuals found fascination in. Rope runners, and rope spinners, would bring their work home to their families, and in return, believed to have created this game out of sheer enjoyment for those who were involved within the family. They spent their time creating different games with rope, and these games became traditions, which further led to the development of the incredibly popular game of double-dutch. They passed these games down from one generation to the next, and now, in today’s society, we are the receptors of these fun rope games.

It is said that the Dutch settlers had brought this rope game to the trading post, and when the English arrived, they had seen them playing this game. Once they had watched the children playing, they ended up naming it as double-dutch since the dutch had been the ones who developed this rope game. As this game has been passed down through the centuries, there have been singing rhymes that have been developed with this game, it can be found being played by children on the street, and there have been several grown individuals who have even found fun and enjoyment in this game of playing rope. A man by the name of David A. Walker, took the street version of double-dutch and developed it into the World Class Sport which you can find today. It is a competitive sport, and there are tournaments that are played in this sport for trophies. It has now been transformed into a city-wide event, and there are several competitions that are held every year. Schools and community centers have competed over the entire world, and there are national events and international events that these students and individuals can participate in. These competitions will continue to be held each and every year, and double-dutch will be a sport, and game, that will continue to be enjoyed for several years to come.

Today, Double Dutch is a widely popular and globally-renowned jump rope game that children and adults alike enjoy. Competitions for the sport range from informal affairs to world championships, and even became a varsity sport in New York City’s public high schools in 2009. It also possesses close associations to New York City’s unique hip-hop culture, particularly during the early 1980s with the rise of now-legendary MCs. 

Founding Double Dutch:

David A. Walker was the founder of Double Dutch jump rope. Later to become shortened to Double Dutch, this style of jump rope may have originated with the ropemakers of ancient Egypt, Phoenicia, and China. Double Dutch was brought over from the Far East by immigrants coming to the city of New York; hometown to David A. Walker and Detective Ulysses Williams. In 1973 these two men brought Double Dutch to the skill level and world-class status that it had been previously missing. But Double Dutch did not stop there. Walker and Williams brought a new twist to this popular street game: they turned it into a competitive team sport. Just a year later, Double Dutch enjoyed its first tournament on February 14, 1974. This tournament allowed for almost 600 middle school children to participate. With the help of 6th through 8th graders, Double Dutch continued to spread citywide and eventually to national championships.


David A. Walker’s interest and impact on the history of Double Dutch did not stop with founding the competitive team-based sport: he went on to create the American Double Dutch League in 1974. Walker headed up the ADDL for 18 years, at which point he resigned his position as the President in 1992. His impact did not stop with his resignation; however, he went on to establish The International Double Dutch Federation, the Dynamic Diplomats of Double Dutch Team, and the National Double Dutch League. Walker’s excitement and innovation of the “Fusion” free-style is the format currently used throughout the world and supported internationally by the Double Dutch Holiday Classic, and is also used in World Class tournaments across the globe.

Talent and Coordination:

Double Dutch takes talent and coordination. Not only do the jumpers have to be coordinated; the rope handlers must-have skill and timing as well. To completely appreciate and understand Double Dutch, please take the time to enjoy the attached video where you will see skill and creativity joined together.

​Other Jump Rope Purposes

Jumping rope has not only been used as a game and for competitions, but there are also several other purposes that a jump rope can be used for. Physical therapy has found a lot of benefit from using jump ropes while jumping on the right surfaces. Many professionals have become aware of the fact, that since jump ropes have been used for fitness purposes, the fact is that jumping rope is very good for the muscles in the human body. Therefore, the individuals who suffer from weak muscles, or any other type of physical ailments, that are able to find positive results from using jump ropes to help and build up the muscles that are in need of strengthening. There have even been studies that have shown the using a jump rope can also help to strengthen bones in the human body, and this shows the skipping ropes are a very beneficial tool to use in many types of physical therapies. Those who are suffering from obesity can use jump ropes to help them maintain a decent weight loss to help them lose the weight that they need to keep them in good health. It is good, as a health benefit, to help with the cardiovascular system in the human body, and to keep a person in good standing health. Those children and individuals, who have very weak muscles and bones, who have trouble walking, will be able to benefit from jumping rope therapy, to strengthen the bones and muscles for them to be able to walk properly and build up their strength in their body. Many doctors and professionals have claimed that a simple therapy, such as jumping rope, can help in a very large way. Therefore, this type of therapy has been used for several different physical therapies and will continue to be used so those individuals can benefit from its rewarding results. Fitness will continue to use jump ropes to help aid in the weight loss that is needed for so many individuals, and to help build up muscle that is within the body.​

Jump Rope History – Summary

In conclusion, there are so many benefits that come from the jumping rope on the physical side of it, the therapy side of it, and the fun side of it all. We have made many games with these skipping ropes; there are so many aspects of jumping rope that can benefit so many in the population. Health clinics, special needs schools, and many other types of clinics have been able to find the right therapy by using jumping ropes in their therapeutic routines and techniques. There are many ways to use these skipping ropes in therapies, that the possibilities are unlimited, and can help so many individuals. There may not be a definitive individual who came up with the idea for jumping rope, and it is more than likely that a child came up with these games themselves, however, no matter how this art came to be, it is no question that it will continue to grow in popularity. From the ancient times of China, Egypt, and Canada, this popular skipping rope became one of the greatest inventions of all time, and it has captured the attention and entertainment of so many individuals through time. Something as simple as a rope has made such an impact on the human population, and this rope has progressed from one game to several thousand different games that have been created and designed. So, when it comes to the small rope that is used for these activities, it isn’t hard to see why and how this popularity of the skipping rope is.

No matter if it was created by men, or if children created it, there is so much that has come out of this small piece of material. Jump ropes have come such a long way since ancient times, and there are so many types of games that have come out of them since its journey through the ages, but it is something that will never die out, and it is one of those fads that will continue to grow throughout the ages. Jump ropes have been created such a long time ago and have lasted this long, that it isn’t likely that the history of these amazing ropes is going to fade out soon.

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