While jumping is essential for many athletes, dancers are among the select few that make it look graceful.
Adding gracefulness and increasing the heights of your jumps isn’t something that just comes naturally. These things are earned during late-night practices, early morning lessons, and countless hours of warm-ups. Dancers are constantly striving to achieve the look of effortlessness in their jumps; however, it can only be taught and maintained through countless hours of practice.
Luckily jumps are one of those things that we can always work to improve. Keep reading for six tips for improving your dance jumps.
Like any rigorous physical activity, start with warm-ups and stretches. Stretch every day to make sure your leg muscles are ready for the intensive work to follow. The second stage of your stretching action is stretching for a split. What you would do mid-air one day, try and work on it while you are on the ground.
Flexibility is crucial, but there is more to it. You need strength and lots of control, too. Good core strength and alignment are critical.
In addition to stretching and warming up the muscles, it is important that you do not overstretch before jumping and leaping. You want to stretch just enough to get the blood circulating through the muscles. We like to add strengthening exercises to our warm-up to help wake the body up and then re-stretch at the end of a class. Deep stretching is most productive when done at the end of a rigorous dance class.
While stretching, envision how you want your leaps to look. Having a mental picture of your jump will allow you to calibrate the energy you need to execute it.
Believe it or not, positive imagery and positive self-talk do wonders for performance. Find a relaxing place and close your eyes. Envision yourself leaping through the air—concentrate on your take-off, arm and leg position, and of course, the landing.
Use today’s modern technology to your advantage! Dancers can benefit significantly from things such as slow-motion videos. Before you start working on increasing the height of your jumps, take time to videotape yourself.
When going over the video, focus on your take-off and the position of your torso. Once reviewing the video, determine the part of the leap you would like to focus your energy on.
Involve your whole body.
It is essential to recognize that leaps and jumps require more than just leg strength. While leaping, focus on where your eye focus is. Instead of looking straight-forward, slightly angle your head and focus upward. In addition, you must utilize your core. Also, be conscious of your arm position.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are your arms straight?
- Are your shoulders relaxed and pulled down?
- Is your torso upright?
- Are your toes pointed?
The more you focus on these things during warm-ups and practices, the more they will become second nature for you during your actual performances.
Focus on a deep plié.
A deep plié is critical for achieving the height you need to execute a leap properly. A plié is simply a deep knee bend and is the last step you take before leaving the ground. The deeper the plié, the more power you will have in your legs to push off.
No matter how many steps you take to prepare for the leap, make sure to bend your knees to obtain as much power as you need to get high into the air and try not to lean forward.
Stick your landing.
A beautiful leap is not complete until it is landed safely. Your goal for the landing will be to hit the floor as softly and quietly as possible. Never come out of a leap with straight knees, as doing so will almost always cause an injury.
You should begin thinking about your landing as soon as your feet leave the ground. Mentally preparing your legs to absorb your weight will really make a tremendous difference.
Whether a dancer wants to deepen a plié, perfect a front walkover, or bring their jumps to new heights, we have all the tools to ensure you reach your goals!
We consistently work with our dancers through conditioning and technique classes to encourage optimal dance success! Contact the dance experts at Evolution Dance Complex today to find out more!
Photo Feature: Mia Snyder (Dancer/Model)