How Dancing Can Be Used to Improve Soccer Skills


cartoon soccer player

Whee! Soccer!

I’ve noticed in my years as a swing dancer that soccer tops the list in sports that occupy Lindy Hoppers when they’re not dancing.  If you’re curious as to why that is, this may offer some insight into the connection between soccer and dance.

Good coordination is a vital part to succeeding in all sports. For example, Health Fitness Revolution writes that in soccer, coordination is essential due to the dramatic shifts in pace and judging how to play the ball. Coordination is something that young players learn at an early age and one of the new innovate ways to increase coordination and other soccer skills is through dancing.

One such program is Soccer Jam which is a new type of soccer training that combines “soccer footwork exercises choreographed with energetic, clean music to help players develop foot coordination and muscle memory.” The founder of Soccer Jam is Kelly Knauss who not only played soccer at a semi-pro level but also earned a four-year master’s degree in leadership and teaching methods. His program states that his training sessions will improve young players individual technical footwork and boost game performance.

In order to see the benefits of using dance to improving soccer performances on the pitch, beyond amazing goal celebrations, it is vital to see how closely linked the sports are. Five-A-Side Football Coach states that soccer “encompasses footwork, power, endurance, agility, balance and other abilities that are held in high regard on the dance floor too.” For instance the soccer site compares the art of dribbling to the “virtuosity of dance” as both require the body to be manipulated in order to move quickly.

An example of a professional soccer player with dancing experience was former Manchester United captain and England national soccer team player Rio Ferdinand, according to Men’s Health. The soccer star told Men’s Health that he credits ballet with improving his balance on the soccer pitch. Dancing has become identified with professional soccer due to the elaborate celebrations of players after scoring. Rush Canada, the largest youth soccer group in the world, even state that “if you watch Cristiano well enough you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him perfecting his dance moves either at training or when he scores. Likewise, Lionel Messi and Neymar are avid dancers.” Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the top two players in the world, according to soccer preview site Betfair with Ronaldo winning the award for best player of year in 2016. And if young soccer players should focus on developing their skills, they should look no further than the likes of Ronaldo and Messi to become the best they can moving forward.

Live Healthy in their article The Body of a Soccer Player vs. a Dancer state that competitors from both sports have overlapping body types. The health site cited the success of US goalkeeper Hope Sole on Dancing With the Stars as an example of how easily the two sports can be interchanged due to the same type of fitness requirements.

As young players embrace the rhythm and coordination of dancing and incorporate them into their soccer training we could be seeing more exciting and dynamic players in the future of the game. Dancing and soccer may seem like worlds apart, but combined together they can create a formidable player who will also be in line for the best goal celebration of the season.

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When Is A Dance Too Acrobatic?

acrobats from Cirq Du Solei

The incomperable Cirq Du Solei is famous for combining acrobatics and dance

Controversial dance

This surprising controversy in the dance community popped up when this video started going viral:

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But is it really dance?

Some people commented that is isn’t really dance because it’s really just a bunch of aerials and really qualifies as acrobatics rather than dance.  If you’ve read my previous posts about acrobatics and dance, “Are Gymnasts Dancers? Part 1” and “Part 11”, you know that I feel that just about any movement that goes to music qualifies as dance and why are we arguing about this anyway?  We should all get a life.

Dance Aerials in other countries

Nevertheless, it put me in mind of the German dance that they call “Rock and Roll”.  Now that, unlike the previous example that had beautiful musical interpretation and expression, really does fit the description of a bunch of aerials stuck together with a few very peculiar basic kicking steps.  Here’s an example of Rock and Roll:

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If that qualifies as dance (and it definitely does) then how can anyone argue with the first example?  Yes there is more to dance than stunning air steps, but no matter what I think of the filler steps, the spectacular aerials and the basic step that glues them together are all on beat and do go with the music.  That’s dance!

In fact, the concept of a cultural dance that consists primarily of air steps glued together with a basic step of some kind and very little else, seems to exist in vastly different cultures.  Odd though Rock and Roll’s basic straight forward kick step may look to us (or at least to me), it is in it’s own way distinctly German.

In this stunning example of Mexico’s Quebradita Acrobatica, you see the basic step continually repeated in the second part where the music speeds up.  The sexy fluidity of this movement reflects the culture of it’s parent country as well.  Gorgeous, isn’t it?

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Does it really matter what you call any of it?  It’s all highly skilled movement to music.  That’s good enough for me!


by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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Why Boys Should Dance

men dancing ballet

I lifted this directly from the article, complete with the appropriate caption “If you don’t feel the testosterone coming off this, there’s something wrong”

I remember teaching a group of teenaged Lindy dancers who were sent to me from another dance teacher. They were advanced dancers who had outgrown their first teacher. When I asked for a follower with whom to demonstrate a new move, one of the boys volunteered. They had all learned to dance both parts and not because they had been taught to. They just wanted to and as advanced dancers were up to the challenge.

The boys in that class were lucky to have been brought up in such a way that they felt no stigma to learning the “girl’s part.” For that matter, they were lucky to have avoided the stigma of boys dancing at all.

In the wonderful article “Ten Reasons to Let Your Boy Dance”, The Irish Atheist takes on the cultural bias against boys dancing. Dancing is athletic, masculine, a great confidence builder, and as I have mentioned many times, a major chick magnet.
Sissy? Ah, no. Dancers train harder than professional athletes. Football players take ballet to make them better players. It’s way past time to retire that old bias. Go for it, boys!

By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Hoola Hoop Dancing: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore!

LED hoola hoops

Want to draw crowds when you dance with a hoop? You can get these LED hoops at Etsy shop

A creative dance idea

There are so many creative ways to make dance even more fun.  One of my favorites is the hoola hoop fad.  Like many kids, I played with one in my youth but I don’t remember doing it to music.  Hard to believe we didn’t because it’s such a natural fit.

A great dance workout too!

It’s fun.  It’s challenging.  It’s a great workout.  If you want to give it a go, don’t use your children’s hoops.  They’re too light for an adult and it will be way more frustrating than it has to be.  Adult hoopa are weighted differently and are much easier to use.


Here’s one of my favorite hoop dancers.  Great moves and great skill with the hoops!

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And here’s one where the hoop itself is spectacular.  I love the idea of creating a hoop that plays with the light this way so there’s always something fun to watch, even if the dancer is not as good as this one:

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Inspired?  Get yourself a hoop, put on your favorite music, (bikini optional), and dance!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dance Walk Guru Found! The End of the Story:

Ben finds his guru

Ben Aaron finds Joe, the Dance Walk Guru!

Dancing in Your Wildest Imagination

I can’t stop thinking about the Dance Walk Guru’s story. Can you image how it would feel to be so at peace with yourself that you choose to dance down the street with abandon for the pure joy of it, without a worry about what people might think of the spectacle you are making of yourself?

Joe’s Dance Going Viral

And then, imagine how it would feel to find out that, unbeknownst to yourself, you had inadvertently started a movement. What if you learned that a video of yourself had gone viral and inspired hundreds of people all over the world to join you in spirit as they dance joyfully down the streets of their own towns?

How to be a Hero

Yep, sometimes you can be a hero just by being yourself!  Enjoy the final chapter:

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dance Walking: A New Craze (I Hope!)

Ben Aaron and his guru

Ben Aaron joins an anonymous dancer and a new craze is born!

How to start a dance craze

Well, OK, not exactly a craze yet, but I’d love to see this catch on.  The really amazing thing about it is that instead of avoiding a guy doing something weird in public, people are joining in.  Lots of them.  And it looks like the ones who aren’t are at least smiling are recording the fun.  I’d like to see if the same phenomenon would happen if the perpetrator was not a good looking and engaging young man, but I’ll take what I can get.  I’m grateful that he’s using his charms to this end. 

If you like to dance, try it yourself!

If any of you are out going and fearless enough to try this without the crowd, please let me know if you’re successful in engaging a crowd!  It reminded me of the procession following the memorial 5 years ago of Frankie Manning, the “Ambassador of Lindy Hop”.  The New Orleans jazz band that played at the memorial  led the congregation dancing behind them from the church to Central Park.  New Yorkers grinned at us and enjoyed the spectacle then too!

Prepare to be delighted!

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Dancing Piano Players

child dances on piano

FAO Shwartz’s affordable version of the piano you have to dance on to play

Most musicians don’t dance.  Have you noticed that?  It’s so common that we really notice when they do.  Maybe it’s because they’re always on stage when everyone else is dancing, but that doesn’t explain the ones who do.  Cab Calloway not only danced while playing but also was a trend setter who’s style has inspired many a renowned dancer. Here’s the consumate showman hamming it up to Minnie the Moocher. May it  inspire  more musicians to add a little pizazz to their performances:

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 Cab Calloway obviouslywas not a pianist and this post is about dancing pianists, so you’ll forgive me for that digression.  I was inspired by the piano at FAO Shwartz from the movie “Big” to write this one.  There is more than one video available of musicians playing this wonderful instrument.  There are two things you absolutely can’t avoid doing when you play this piano.  You can’t not dance and you can’t not have fun.  Here’s an example:
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And finally, since we’re talking about having fun with your whole body while playing the piano, I couldn’t resist including this classic scene of Chico and Harpo Marx having the best time ever with a traditional piano.  Too bad the floor piano wasn’t invented in time for these guys to have a go at it!
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By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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Dancing and Sports

Red Sox celebrate a home run

Boston Red Sox and fans dance for joy in celebration

What do sports events have to do with dancing?  My friends know I don’t relate to sports at all, so they’ll be amused by this topic, but a wonderful video that’s showing up on social media got me to thinking.  Here’s the video of spontaneous celebratory dancing at a Detroit Pistons game:

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I’m not a total ignoramus when it comes to sports,( although it is true that I don’t know if the Pistons play baseball, football, or basketball.)  I actually attended a baseball game with my sister and brother in law earlier this year in DC and my sister informed me that I also attended one in early childhood, so I’ve been to a ballgame twice so far.  I trust her (she’s two years older) even though I have no memory of that first game.

So here’s the connection:  Sports events are the one part of American tradition where it’s permissible, even expected, to celebrate loudly and physically and with a strong sense of community.  People jump up and down and yell and hug each other.  I was in San Francisco when the Giants won the World Series, (which spell check informs me is Capitalized), and strangers were hugging one another in the streets.

In situations like this, pure, unadulterated joy is expressed.   Physical joy is naturally expressed through dance.  In this video, there is music and there is joy with a spirit of celebration, and that translates into spontaneous dance for a lot of people.

I was really looking forward to that part of the experience when I attended the game with my family, but the DC team chose that particular game to get royally trashed by the visiting LA Dodgers.  It is not permissible to dance with spontaneous joy when your team loses by a mile.  When in the company of my brother in law, the Nationals are your team.  And why not?  I have no loyalty to LA.  I thought the Dodgers were from Brooklyn.

This is a truly great thing about the great American pastime.  My vision is for a world where every celebration is gloriously expressed with a dance of joy.  If you missed it, this subject is covered without the sports angle in my recent post Celebrating your Dance Victories.  Now go out and celebrate, any way you can!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Are Gymnasts Dancers?

Ukrainian Dancers begin

Using Dance in Gymnastics elevates this routine

This is the first of 2 posts about dancing gymnasts.   In my opinion, dance skill has a lot to do with the success of a gymnastic routine.   As you know, I’m also very opinionated about dance and part of my criteria is that the dance is an expression of the music.  In this wonderful routine from the Ukrainian Olympic team, the women hit the music perfectly.  Like the reverse of dancers who use aerials with perfect timing, (see previous post Using Aerials in Swing Dance) these athletes use dance to accent their perfect lifts.  It’s all timed perfectly to the music and the routine is choreographed to take advantage of the breaks in the music.  As beautiful as it is impressive to watch, without using dance to play with the music, the gymnastic perfection would not have been nearly as effective in the overall performance.  Watch it now and see if you don’t agree!

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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