Rope jumping in handball

Rope Jumping in Handball

Rope jumping in handball is one of the many topics that I am very passionate about for several countless and amazing reasons! In the world of handball, a goalkeeper’s agility, endurance, and coordination are some of the most important aspects for every goalkeeper. Among the various training methods, jump rope drills stand out as an exceptional tool for enhancing these key attributes. I love using jump rope drills in the warm-up phase especially, but also in the conditioning phase. Besides “normal” jump rope drills, I also like combining and adding some cognitive challenges and more complex movements, but I do that only after my goalkeepers master all the basic jump rope drills.

The intention I had with this blog post is to explore a little bit deeper into why jump rope drills are not just beneficial but essential in handball goalkeeper training.

Handball is full of constant movement, change of direction, jumping, running and at the same time the need to maintain a good balance and coordination. The greatest players and goalkeepers are those who can move at lightning speed and still keep a good balance. As this sport requires constant movement, handball goalkeepers and players need to be able to quickly switch between forward, backward, lateral and vertical movements. Therefore, agility is a must in handball!

There are many different ways to work on agility in handball. But in this post, I will present jump rope drills and its benefits for handball goalkeepers and players.

Jump rope is an essential tool for handball goalkeepers’ and players’ training. And at the same time – it’s one of the most affordable training tools! Also –  it takes up a small space during transportation (which is a very important thing, considering all the travel for different camps and competitions in handball). Rope jumping is very beneficial in handball training because it aids greatly in development of agility, hand-foot coordination, rhythm, and balance.


Benefits of Using Jump Rope Drills

Agility and Quickness
Regular jump rope training can significantly improve goalkeeper’s and player’s agility and quickness. These are crucial skills in handball for maneuvering in front of the goal, or around opponents, or changing direction quickly, and reacting fast to ever changing game situations. Improved agility allows for more efficient and effective movements for goalkeepers in front of the goal.


Coordination and Rhythm
The rhythmic nature of jump roping enhances hand-eye coordination and timing. This improved coordination can translate into better control and efficiency in movements for goalkeepers in front of the goal and on handball court. The rhythmic nature of jump roping aids in developing a goalkeeper’s timing, an essential skill for anticipating and reacting to different kinds of shots.


Cardiovascular Fitness
Jump rope drills performed on a jump rope are a high-intensity cardiovascular exercises. They increase heart rate and stamina, which are essential for handball goalkeepers, but also for handball players who need to maintain a high level of energy throughout the game. For a handball goalkeeper, superior cardiovascular fitness means better overall performance, especially in high-intensity matches.


Muscular Endurance
Jumping rope impacts various muscle groups, including calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. Building endurance in these muscles is vital for handball players, as it helps them maintain a high level of play throughout the match.


Jump rope drills improve footwork, crucial for goalkeepers who need to make quick, precise movements to save shots from various angles. The fast and repetitive footwork involved in jump roping is excellent for developing the kind of foot speed and precision that handball goalkeepers and players need for effective court movement.


Increased Explosive Power
Jumping rope builds leg strength, contributing to explosive power that is vital for quick dives and rapid lateral movements.


Better Balance and Stability
Regular jump roping strengthens the core muscles, which are essential for maintaining balance and stability – both crucial for effective goalkeeping. This is important in handball for maintaining control during dynamic movements, changes of direction, sudden reactions, and potential collisions.


The dynamic movement in jump roping can also aid in improving flexibility, especially in the lower body, which is beneficial for avoiding injuries.


Mental Endurance
The focus and concentration required to maintain consistent jump roping rhythm can also help in building mental endurance, an often overlooked but vital aspect of athletic performance in handball, and in every other sport. There are many different versions of complex jump rope drills which are challenging, and being persistent in doing them directly impacts mental endurance. Coordinating hand and foot movements while jump roping enhances overall body coordination. It also improves concentration and mental focus, skills critical for goalkeeping.


Combination with Other Drills
You can integrate and combine jump rope drills with other goalkeeper-specific exercises to create a holistic training session. This combination ensures that different aspects of goalkeeper conditioning and skill are addressed.


Convenience and Versatility
Jump ropes are portable and can be used almost anywhere, making them a convenient tool for goalkeeper training. In addition to that, the intensity and duration of jump rope workouts can be easily adjusted to suit different fitness levels and training goals.


Structured Progression
Start with basic routines and gradually increase intensity and complexity. This progression helps build endurance and skill without overwhelming the goalkeeper. Start with a really simple drills with young goalkeepers, and then you can slowly build up over time, depending on how fast or slow they are improving with previous (less demanding and less complex) drills.


Fun and Variation
Jump roping can add variety to a conditioning program, breaking the monotony of regular training routines and keeping goalkeepers engaged and highly motivated. Incorporating different jump rope techniques like single jumps, high knees, double unders, and criss-crosses can target various aspects of conditioning and skill.


Injury Prevention
Jump rope drills strengthen the muscles and tendons in the legs and feet, reducing the risk of common injuries in goalkeepers such as ankle sprains and knee injuries.



Phases of Rope Jumping

Rope jumping involves four phases in each jump: load phase, flight phase, landing phase and smiling phase 😉  You will perform each of these phases hundreds of times during each jumping session.

1. The load phase requires you to balance your body on the front part of your feet with your knees slightly flexed.

2. The flight phase consists of muscular contractions that propel your body high enough to clear the rope with each jump. The upper and lower body muscles are used during flight phase. This movement is essential to improve your ability of CNS – central nervous system to communicate and coordinate parts of the body with each other. This movement also improves kinesthetic awareness (now go Google about the ” kinesthetic awareness” for a while 😉 ).

3. In the landing phase, you return to the floor by allowing your body weight to balance on the front part of your feet with your knees flexed to help absorb the impact of the landing. I always tell to my goalkeepers and other athletes I work with to listen to the sound of their feet while landing, and to think of baby elephants. All of them always ask me immediately:” Why should I think of baby elephants??!?” Well – because you don’t want to sound like one of them while you are landing! 😀

4. Smiling phase – because (in my humble opinion) you will enjoy mastering all new drills, and while improving your coordination, agility, speed and endurance.

Rope jumping strengthens muscles that support the tendons and ligaments of the knees, feet, and ankles. Strengthening these supporting muscle groups reduces injury risk and contributes to recovery after injury.


But let’s see what muscles we are using while rope jumping:

Rope jumping - Muscles used


Biomechanics of Rope Jumping

The biomechanics of rope jumping involve a complex interaction of different physical principles and body movements. As a goalkeeper coach, or a handball coach (or any other coach for that matter), understanding the biomechanics of rope jumping can help you in optimizing the technique, enhancing the benefits of the exercise, and minimizing the risk of injury.


Force Production and Absorption
When jumping rope, the body must produce sufficient force to lift off the ground. This is primarily done through the extension of the ankles, knees, and hips – a movement primarily powered by the calf muscles, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Upon landing, these same joints flex to absorb the impact. Proper force absorption is crucial to reduce the risk of injury.


Elastic Energy and the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC)
Rope jumping utilizes the SSC, a cycle where muscles are stretched very quickly (eccentric phase) and then contracted (concentric phase). When you land, your muscles and tendons stretch and store elastic energy, which is then released during the subsequent takeoff. This cycle improves the efficiency and explosiveness of the movement. The Stretch-Shortening Cycle is highly beneficial for handball goalkeepers, as it plays a crucial role in enhancing athletic performance, particularly in actions that require explosive power and quick reflexes – which are basically all goalkeeper’s actions.


Coordination and Rhythm
Jumping rope requires a high level of coordination, timing, and rhythm. The coordination between the upper and lower body is essential as the arms must turn the rope at a consistent speed, synchronized with the timing of the jumps.


Balance and Stability
Core muscles play a critical role in maintaining balance and stability during rope jumping. A strong, engaged core helps in keeping the body aligned and stable throughout the exercise.


Gravity and Air Time
An athlete that is rope jumping must overcome gravity to lift off the ground. The height of the jump is determined by the force exerted against the ground. Ideally, in rope jumping, the jumps are low and quick, minimizing air time while still allowing the rope to pass under the feet.


Arm and Wrist Movement
Efficient rope jumping relies more on wrist movements than arm movements. The wrists generate the motion to swing the rope, which should be a smooth and consistent circular motion. Overusing the arms can lead to faster fatigue and inefficient movement.


Foot Strike
The type of foot strike can vary (it can be forefoot, midfoot, or whole foot), but it should generally be very light and quick. A softer foot strike helps in reducing the impact on the joints. In my experience, a lot of young athletes struggle with this.


Kinetic Chain Involvement
Rope jumping is a full-body exercise. It involves a kinetic chain where the movement of one part of the body influences the movements of other parts. Proper alignment and movement of the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, and arms are crucial for effective and safe execution.


In my opinion, understanding these biomechanics is very important, especially for coaches who are using rope jumping in work with goalkeepers and athletes as a regular part of their training routines. It helps in improving performance, improving technique, and reducing the risk of injury. My belief, as a coach, is that every coach should be eager, dedicated, and consistent in wanting to always learn and understand more about different aspects of coaching, training, sport and position specific movements, athletic movements, and human movements overall.


Why Should Handball Goalkeepers and Players Use Jump Rope Drills?

  • It is found as valuable tool in developing body coordination, balance, agility, body inversion, synchronization, hands/legs speed and endurance;
  • It involves synchronizing and combining upper and lower body movements for improved strength, conditioning, and flexibility;
  • It strengthens the upper and lower body;
  • It enhances both aerobic and anaerobic capacity and power;
  • It’s one of the best ways to build up cardio strength;
  • Jumping rope also helps you increase body awareness and hand-foot coordination;
  • It also raises core body temperature for a quick warm-up;
  • It’s a multi joint exercise that incorporates many muscles in the body;
  • Rope jumping is an ideal brain exercise that develops the left and right sides of the brain;
  • Rope jumping strengthens the vestibular system to increase mental alertness and spatial awareness;
  • The body’s vertical motion creates enough ground forces to increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis;
  • It’s fun. 🙂


What is Important at The Beginning of Using Jump Rope Drills?

When first jumping rope, it is important that you become proficient with the rope before using it as a conditioning tool.

First you need to develop skill with the rope, and then add it to your conditioning training.  If you try to use the rope for conditioning before developing skill with it, you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration. And we don’t want that.

Start with frequent, but short jump rope sessions. For example, start with 20-second intervals on the rope. Just try to skip for 20 seconds without tripping on it. Keep the intervals brief, and stop before you are tired. These sessions are skill based workouts. You are learning a new skill, and the body is much more capable of learning when it is rested, not tired.

In the video below you can see 37 different jump rope drills (ideas) which can be used in handball training for both goalkeepers and players.



From time to time you might hit the rope with your feet, but don’t get upset or frustrated. When I say “you”, I mean you as a coach, or you as a goalkeeper. I do believe that coaches should always test and try out every drill they are giving to their athletes, in order to get a better understanding of the movement and the drill.

Anyways, if your feet hit the rope, just go back to the start-up position and start it all over again. Always remember to be patient and persistent. The jump rope drills shown in the video above are just some of the countless existing variations. Always challenge yourself and try to develop new jumping drills. Don’t limit yourself and your athletes to the same style of jump rope work, it might become boring and you won’t get the maximum of all possibilities jump rope can give you. Mix it up to promote improvements in coordination and agility.


In conclusion, jump rope drills are an invaluable component of handball goalkeeper and player training. They holistically enhance a goalkeeper’s and player’s physical abilities, including agility, endurance, coordination, and power. Furthermore, they contribute to mental sharpness and injury prevention. Incorporating jump rope exercises into regular training routines can lead to significant improvements in a goalkeeper’s and player’s performance, making them a more agile, resilient, and effective component of the handball team.



To read more about this topic and to see a video with additional 14 rope jumping ideas, you can check out another article on my website that I wrote on the same topic – Jump Rope Drills.


As always, if you have any comments or feedback on this article, please feel to comment below, or send me a message or an email.



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All content (such as text, data, graphics files, images, illustrations, videos, sound files), and all other materials contained in are copyrighted unless otherwise noted and are the property of Vanja Radic Coaching. If you want to cite or use any part of the content from my website, you need to get the permission first, so please contact me for that matter.