Improving your Leaps as an AdultOctober 30, 2020
Do you want to improve your leaps, but afraid you’re too old or weak to do so?? Here is my suggestion (based on my own experience) to a dancer who had the same concern:
Question: “any ideas on improving leaps at a late stage. I have weak knees and now a weak ankle. A long time ago I was told by a physical therapy coach to ‘take aerobics or something’ because I was not light on my feet even though she knew I took ballet?! I’m not blessed with dancer genes but the exact opposite.”
Suggestion: oh man, do I get that!! When I returned to my own dance training after years of not dancing, I can tell you my jumps were gone! I had no endurance and absolutely no strength. I couldn’t even manage 16 sautés without getting out of breath, and I barely got my feet off the floor. It was very discouraging .😔
But I decided instead of being discouraged (which is never a friend to progress), I wouldn’t focus on my jumps, but instead, focus on strengthening my barre work and improving my endurance.
So I worked to develop the strength in my feet, in my pliés and relevés. I worked to increase the speed of my foot work, on coordinating the use of my breath, and improving the strength and coordination of my upper body.
I focused on strengthening the basics (just like I teach my beginning students), and I practiced my jumps at the barre focusing on my alignment, control, and having a good solid plié.
**For weak knees and ankles I would also suggest doing ankle exercises with a theraband, and work up to 20 relevés on 2 feet both in parallel and turned out. Make sure you are rolling through your feet properly and never force your turnout – your knees should always be tracking over your 2nd toe.**
I also worked on my cardio endurance with tap dancing (which is also great for footwork and speed, hops and jumps – plus it’s a lot of fun!).
And for better extentions, I added in yoga.
Once I felt stronger at the barre, I got back to jumps center floor, and I really surprised myself at the progress I had made. My jumps and leaps were so much more effortless and I was regaining my height and speed. 🎯
So put your focus on strengthening your technique at the barre – facing the barre in front of a mirror to pay attention to your alignment and control.
And take up a tap class to build up that cardio endurance (and just to let loose) and yoga to improve your flexibility.
When you focus on the nailing those basics, you’ll be surprised on how quickly your jumps (and all your dancing) will benefit.👍
In the mean time, don’t get discouraged. Progress is still progress, no matter how slow. And taking the time to develop your dance technique properly will benefit you with a lifetime of joyous dancing (and leaping).