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?

The origins of “skipping ropes” can be traced all the way back to ancient times. While the modern version of the jump rope is dated back to Egypt around 1600 A.D., there are also rumors of its existence in China during that era. In fact, paintings depicting children using jump ropes in ancient times have been discovered.

Despite this wealth of historical evidence, there are no specific records pinpointing the exact creators or the time of invention. Therefore, all we can assume is that these simple yet delightful toys became popular among the children of Egypt and China, with a high possibility that it was a child who first came up with the idea. Nevertheless, concrete evidence to support this theory remains elusive.

Jump Rope Popularity Over Time

Although rumors place the creation of the jump rope back in Ancient Egypt around 1600 A.D, it was not until the 1940s and 1950s that its popularity truly soared. Children of that era enthusiastically incorporated skipping ropes into various aspects of their playtime, captivated by the simple yet exhilarating fun they provided.

However, as the 1960s rolled in, the jump rope lost some of its appeal, only to resurge in the 1970s with the fitness craze. The versatile ropes became a staple in exercise routines, a favorite tool for warming up and staying fit. Even to this day, jump ropes remain a beloved item in the fitness world, helping countless individuals shape up and shed those extra pounds.

In addition to their role in exercise, jump ropes have retained their status as a popular toy among children. Beyond doubt, skipping has evolved into a form of both playful activity and health-oriented exercise. The enduring charm of jump ropes continues to make them a ubiquitous presence in fitness centers and a source of joy for kids around the world.

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

The Chinese jump rope, with its origins tracing back to ancient times, has been a cherished playtime activity enjoyed by countless children worldwide. Even in the present day, its appeal remains intact, offering a delightful blend of hopscotch and double-dutch. In this game, at least three participants collaborate to master the art of jumping through the rope with finesse and skill.

Beyond being a fun pastime, the Chinese jump rope holds valuable health benefits, making it an excellent cardiovascular exercise and an integral part of physical fitness routines. Its widespread availability in various fitness centers underscores its contribution to well-being.

During the 1960s, the Chinese jump rope gained immense popularity in the United States, captivating the hearts of people in other countries like Canada and Europe. Known by different names, such as Gummitwist, Elastics, Yoki, and Chinese Garters, this timeless game also holds a special place in the festivities of the Chinese New Year.

Though the exact inventor of the Chinese jump rope remains unknown, many speculate that its creation can be credited to an imaginative and energetic child who simply picked up a piece of rope and came up with the game. While history does not document a specific inception date for this enjoyable pastime, it likely emerged alongside the invention of ropes themselves, a testament to the innate creativity of children throughout time.

​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.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.