Famous dancer, Gene Kelly, was the first person to connect sports and ballet in a TV documentary back in 1958. He wanted to prove that dancing and athletics are not total opposites. The documentary featured baseball player Mickey Mantle and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and how they have used dance to help them in their prospective sports. It has also been publicized in the past that boxing champion Edward Villella was also a member of the New York City Ballet in the 60’s and 70’s.
It is more common today for coaches to incorporate dance and yoga into off-season conditioning. Classes have been opened in some places for boys and college-aged men looking to expand their skills with dance. Many successful football players have used dance to better their skills; Lynn Swann, Herschel Walker, Barry Sanders, and Willie Gault. The Chicago Bulls, back in the days of Michael Jordan, trained in the off-season with the Joffrey Ballet. Figure skating can also help out young hockey players for the same reasons. Here are eight ways you can be a better athlete by taking ballet lessons!
- In ballet class, you can increase your flexibility, learn stretching exercises that will help you in your sport, and enhance your abs and other core muscle groups. Learning flexibility in a ballet class provides the benefit of targeting muscles athletes wouldn’t normally stretch.
- The physical skills/body control you learn in dance class can give you an advantage over your opponent. Lynn Swann, wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70’s credits some of his greatest plays to his dance study.
- Ballet gives you balance and footwork that are beneficial in sports. Barry Sanders gained the ability to spin, duck, leap, and gracefully move the ball, which helped him dominate the league when he was playing football. By practicing balance outside of the natural routine, the athletes can more easily understand and adapt to their footing or jumping to catch a pass.
- Dance class improves coordination, timing, leg strength, and lateral movement. These things will help you with the following sports: karate, soccer, basketball, football, and hockey.
- Ballet is proven to improve an athlete’s speed, strength, and agility. Ballet routines can rely on speed to be done correctly with the music. If a football player masters efficient and precise foot movements this will provide benefits for them in every position out on the field.
- You will be able to play your sport with finesse. Finesse is needed in ballet to look fluid, strong, and in control. It allows a dancer to use their muscles efficiently. This is important for an athlete as well when they are dodging a tackle or moving about the field.
- Ballet provides mental training and concentration for athletes. Putting together a routine in ballet class requires thinking about what you are going to execute. A football player also needs to execute patterns and footwork, almost like choreography.
- You will learn how to position your body more accurately to prevent injury. It seems as though women soccer players are more vulnerable to ACL injuries then ballet dancers because the soccer players are not as fine-tuned as the dancers. Dancers can reproduce bent knee positions more accurately and don’t have to suffer with as much injury.
As you can see there are many benefits to taking dance lessons if you are an athlete. It all starts with the coaches. They need to have an open mind and realize that this could be a good way to improve their team. So to all you little league, high school, and college coaches, get a dance program going for your athletes! We love to have students of all backgrounds at the Omaha School of Music and Dance! Check out our dance classes today! https://www.omahaschoolofmusicanddance.com/ballet-classes-leap-n-learn-ages-6-9-omaha-ne/