What Is the Difference Between Jumping Rope & Skipping Rope?

Portrait of a young man using a skipping rope

Jumping rope develops cardiorespiratory fitness, improves reaction time and builds muscular strength, which is why many athletes include rope jumping in their training programs for overall fitness. Jumping rope also develops agility, making it an effective exercise for improving balance and lower-body muscle coordination. Jumping rope should not be confused with skipping rope, however. Some athletes, such as boxers, use rope jumping variations such as skipping to increase the challenge of their workouts.

Jumping Rope

The basic form of rope jumping involves jumping slightly with each swing of the rope, keeping your feet close to each other. Jumping once per revolution is easiest, but doing two small hops instead can increase the difficulty of the exercise and lead to greater fitness benefits. Other ways to make rope jumping more intense include swinging the rope faster and jumping higher off the ground. At first, though, focus on establishing a steady rhythm and getting used to the motions.

Skipping Rope

Once you master the basics of rope jumping, move on to skipping rope. To skip rope, swing the rope forward as normal. But instead of jumping with both feet close together, do a shuffle-like movement as you hop in which one leg stays beneath you while your other foot moves forward, toes up. The rope first passes under your front foot and then under the foot in the center position.When you hop for the next swing of the rope, reverse the position of your legs.

Expert Insight

While skipping rope, don’t just kick your feet up in the air -- a common beginner’s mistake, according to the book, “RopeSport: The Ultimate Jump Rope Workout,” by Martin Winkle. The rope should travel under your forward-moving foot just before your heel lands on the ground in front of you.


The number of calories you’ll burn jumping rope depends on your level of exertion, but not so much on the particular style you choose. Skipping rope, for example, might not burn more calories than normal rope jumping, although the more challenging movement can improve lower-body coordination. But if you choose a style of rope jumping that is more physically intensive than usual -- for example, if you focus on lifting your knees as high as possible on every jump -- you might be able to burn some extra calories.