Improve your balance in spins

Improve your balance in spins

Good spins are balanced. If you are leaning over or unstable, it will be extraordinarily difficult to spin without falling over. Thus, balance and centering are essential skills for successful spins.

If you try to combine both rotation and traveling, you will be off balance and fall—either onto your new foot, or onto the floor.

One of the keys for spinning effectively is being able to keep your center balanced over a single leg.

Balance becomes easier when you can control your center by stabilizing your core.

A tight core (described in the posture section earlier) helps keep your body moving as a unit; this in turn makes balancing easier because you can focus on balancing a single point rather than flailing all of your extremities.

To improve your centering, stand with good posture—head up, shoulders back and down rather than slouched forward and raised towards your ears.

Engage your core by thinking about zipping up your muscles from the hips to the ribcage; this should create a lifted feeling in your center.

The combination of good posture and zipping up the core will dramatically increase your stability.

TAKE ACTION> Download our #1 drill for balance in turns

The Drill:

With good posture and nice turnout, balance yourself over the ball of your foot. When you feel steady, lift the other leg slightly off the group (the toe should be just skimming the ground) and touch the free foot to the ankle of the supporting foot. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, then switch feet and repeat.

As you are balancing, pay attention to how your body shifts in order to remain balanced. If you are rocking between the ball and heel of the supporting foot, concentrate on keeping the heel ever so slightly off the ground. If you are rolling towards the outside of your foot, focus on keeping your weight inside. You may find it easier to balance by softening (not bending) the supporting knee.

Throughout the drill, monitor your posture. If your chest is collapsing or if you are rounding your shoulders, you will be less stable and will have a harder time establishing an axis of rotation during the dance. Keep the shoulders down. Your chest and head should be up, as if someone had attached a string to your head and the front clasp of your bra (guys, use your imagination) and was lifting you up. Your core should be tight; work those abs!

The beauty of this drill is that it can be done anywhere. Put in 30 seconds of balancing on each leg while you brush your teeth in the morning, another 30 seconds when riding the elevator at work, and 30 seconds while washing your hands after using the bathroom. This drill is much more effective when done for a minute here and there, several times a day, than trying to do a single 10-minute balancing session on the weekend.

TAKE ACTION> Download our #1 drill for balance in turns

Bonus Variations:

You can do a number of things to increase the difficulty level of this drill. Try holding your arms steady instead of using them for balance. Change your height by bending your supporting knee and then straightening it while on one foot. Move your free foot to different positions: crossing behind the supporting ankle, on the side of the lower leg with the free knee pointed out, extended out in a rondé line. For the really balanced, try standing on one foot with your eyes closed.

Life Bonus!

Improving your balance is one of the skills that translates directly from dance to life. One of the most important preventative measures someone can take as they age is to focus on improving their balance, because a lack of balance is responsible for a huge portion of injuries in the elderly. Balance exercises are commonly prescribed by doctors, rehab therapists, and other medical professionals because balance is such an essential skill for warding off further injury. So, develop that stability!

Control Your Spins With Less Power

When you spin, which way do you fall out? If you’re like most dancers, you fall in the direction of the turn. Falling in the direction of your turn is a sign that you’re spinning with too much power.

In this tip, we’re going to throttle all the way back to the absolute bare minimum you need in order to get around. Excess energy is one of the easiest ways to blow up your spins. So, learning just how little power you actually need will help you stay in control on the dance floor.

TAKE ACTION> Download our #1 drill for balance in turns

The Drill: By yourself, find a space where you can spin easily (don’t pick a carpeted floor for this drill!). Your goal is to do a half spin on one foot with as little power as possible. Your spin should naturally die after 180° of rotation. If any part of your body keeps rotating, or if you had to open your arms or legs in order to slow your rotation, you used too much juice.

Keep practicing this half turn, and adjust your power so that you use just enough torque to get around. Chances are that this will be a lot less power than you are used to.

In the dance, having too much power in your spins will force you to compensate in other ways. You may fall out of the turn, you may have to open (read: flail) your arms in order to dissipate the energy, or you may have to bend your body during the turn in order to counteract the excess force. None of these are good options. By training yourself to use the least amount of power necessary to propel the turn, you increase the odds of staying in control while spinning.

For advanced spinners: It is possible to generate and control more power during a spin. However, it is incredibly easy to use the wrong techniques to compensate. In order to maintain a solid foundation, you should practice the bare bones version on a regular basis.

Bonus Variations: As you improve your spinning mechanics, you will discover that you can power more turns with less energy. That’s how it becomes possible to execute multiple spins when, as a beginner, you could barely make it through one. As a result, you should plan to revisit this drill at least every couple of months. The amount of power you need today in order to execute your half spin will probably be too much after a few months of spinning practice—simply because you’ve improved your mechanics and hence don’t need to overcome as much poor body movement when executing your spin. By revisiting this drill periodically, you can recalibrate your minimum energy so you can stay in control of your spins.

Improve your spins with this drill!

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