Tightening Up Your Footwork

West Coast Swing Online Footwork

In a previous post, we introduced the concept of a tolerance window in order to describe how pros dance through the beat in a more precise manner than amateurs. This post will show how you can shrink your tolerance window for your footwork in order to improve your timing, body control, and musicality.

The Drill: For this drill, you will want a medium to slow song that has a very consistent beat. Alternatively, you may want to practice with a metronome (such as the free Web Metronome).

Dance triple steps in place to the beat. As you dance, pay attention to when exactly your foot is articulating through the floor. When is your foot first making contact with the floor? When are you rolling to the ball of the foot? The heel? When does your foot actually start taking weight?

As you ask these questions, you will discover answers that are not consistent. These are the elements that you should practice. How precise can you be about where you are in the stepping process? A good checkpoint is to have weight on the ball of your foot when the beat actually attacks, which means that your foot will actually start to contact the floor before the beat. See how consistent you can make your footwork around that checkpoint.

You can take this drill as far as you want. Once you’ve achieved a level of consistency, you can shrink your personal tolerance window and try to be even more precise about when your foot is doing something. The pros have ridiculously tight tolerance windows, but you can work up to that level if you are willing to invest the practice time.

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