Your young dance student loves dance class, but may have some trouble with flexibility and coordination. To develop these important skills, children can try out basic exercises that can provide effective results. And, through dedication and practice, it’s possible to develop these skills to a high degree.
Try out the following basic exercises with your little one to help them build flexibility and coordination. You can introduce these exercises as games that can later be incorporated into their practice routines once they become more serious.
Improved flexibility can help prevent injuries, something your child should be familiar with through pre-class stretches. This preparation helps increase blood flow, and ensures muscles are warmed up properly. If your children enjoy dancing, it’s very likely they’ll also enjoy being challenged on these essential dance skills. Be sure to experiment with these exercises, and have fun!
Being able to perform the splits demonstrates a high degree of flexibility. While some dancers can do the splits naturally, others may have to work at it.
If your dance student is having trouble with this exercise, have them try it in a different way instead of on the ground. Instead, have them lie on their backs with their legs against the wall at a ninety degree angle, and then open their legs in a split. By allowing gravity to act as a weight, your child can stretch their legs more deeply, and be able to greatly increase their flexibility by stretching their thigh and pelvis muscles.
Another exercise for stretching out the legs for split preparation is to do it in pairs. Sitting down and facing each other with their legs stretched out to the side, each participant takes turns gently pulling each other’s arms to stretch as much as possible.
Remember to take it easy at first. Children are very limber, but it’s always important to always take it slow when stretching.
Improve flexibility and coordination with a hamstring stretch that serves as a great warm-up stretch.
If your legs are feeling tight, begin by rolling out your hamstrings first with a foam roller to make them nice and loose. Then, either standing or putting one leg on a chair or table, gently lean forward on your right leg with your hands on it as you stretch out your other leg, all while keeping your back straight. Hold this stretch for a minimum 90 seconds. Repeat with a rounded spine and a straight spine.
This stretch can also be performed while lying on your back. Flex the hip of the leg being stretched to up to about 90 degrees. Use your hands to support the hamstring as you extend the leg to the first point of tension. Hold for 30 seconds. Be sure to alternate legs.
For a deep stretch, you can also try using a towel or a scarf to wrap around the bottom of your foot near your ankle for leverage. Pull towards your chest as you feel a mild stretch. Make sure that the leg not being stretched remains straight, and your foot remains parallel the entire time.
It’s basic, it’s simple, and it’s effective. No stretch is complete with a good, old-fashioned touching of the toes that stretches out the legs and back.
The young ones may get a real kick out of this exercise. Standing on one leg works very well for developing balance and coordination as well as the core strength that dancers need.
To do this exercise, stand up straight in the middle of a room away from any furniture. Then, bring up one leg so that your knee is sticking toward the front in a basic retire position, with toe point and glued to the side of the leg Now, try to stay in this pose for an extended period of time; you can even make it a game where the winner is the one who can last in this position for the longest time.
For advanced students, try not using your arms for balance. You can also try bringing your leg down to the floor after a couple of minutes, and then bring it back up again to continue the process further.
Exercise doesn’t seem like work if it’s fun. This bouncy exercise can be extremely beneficial to your child’s development if they incorporate it as part of their daily routine. Unlike the other examples on this list, this one requires buying or getting an inflatable yoga ball that can also be used for other exercises.
For this exercise, have your child sit on the yoga ball while they do other activities like watch TV or use the computer. By maintaining their balance over an extended time, your child will develop better balance and coordination. As well, this can help them improve their posture and core strength.
Get those legs fit and trim with walking lunges that help build up strength as well as flexibility. This exercise may require some room, so try to find a proper place that can accommodate it.
To do a walking lunge, take a large step forward, bending deeply at the knee. Your chest should be positioned immediately above the bent knee of your extended leg. Meanwhile, your other leg should be stretched out straight with the knee close to the ground. Then, stand up by pushing against your front heel. As you straighten up, bring your back knee up high against your chest. Repeat using the other leg.
By performing these exercises and getting encouragement and support, your young dance student can start to build up their flexibility and coordination!
Get more dance tips by reading our blog! Find out how to prepare for your child’s first dance lesson, and discover how to dance without using a mirror.