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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How Long Does it Take to Learn to Dance?

nerdy guy asks girl to dance

Asking a woman to dance the first time is always hard

I get asked this question by at least 70% of the people who ask me about dance lessons.  The truth is it’s impossible to answer because everyone learns at a different rate.  It might take one person an hour to learn what another could take a month to finally understand.  It also depends A LOT on how much you practice.  This point is nowhere better illustrated than in the TV show Dancing With the Stars.  The contestants vary tremendously in natural talent but they all practice practically nonstop with skilled instructors.  They don’t all make it and they are not all fabulous but they ALL do learn to dance pretty well.  None of my student will put in a fraction of the time these contestants do but it’s a great case for anybody being able to learn if they are sufficiently motivated.

Debby Reynolds did not dance at all before she was cast in her first movie, Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly.  Kelly was given the task of teaching his young costar to dance, and nobody would have guessed that she didn’t have years of dance training in her background.  Here she is holding her own with two of the greatest dancers ever to grace the silver screen, Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly.

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Of course Debbie obviously had more than her fair share of natural talent, lucky for her, but she also trained to the point of exhaustion.  This is why I always encourage my students to get out in the real world as soon as possible and go dancing in public.  At a dance, you’re dancing for 2 or 3 hours and it doesn’t feel like practice.  It feels like going dancing!  When you practice at home, 15 or 20 minutes feels like a long practice period for most people.  Yes, you do need to practice at home until you have enough basic moves to feel like you know what you’re doing, but you don’t need to be good at it.  Most people will never get good in their living rooms.  You get good on the dance floor, dancing socially and having fun.  If this is your goal, bite the bullet and do it sooner than later.  It will feel scary the first time no matter when you go, so do it as soon as you know enough to maneuver your way around the  floor with a couple of basic steps.  Adding new moves one or two at a time each time you spend an evening on the dance floor is a much easier strategy than trying to remember the 20 steps you learned in your first class when you venture onto the floor for the first time.

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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