If you’re looking to improve your soccer performance, one option that you might consider is ballet. Taking part in a different sport to grow in another is a technique used by many athletes. In this article, I’ll show you why ballet can be surprisingly good for soccer players.
Ballet is great for soccer players. Ballet improves a soccer player’s balance, strength, flexibility, and agility. Improvement in these areas means a player will perform at a higher level on the soccer field and operate as a more effective team member.
Anything that can make you a better soccer player is worth your time and energy.
Throughout this article, you’ll discover:
- The 10 benefits soccer players get from ballet
- If soccer players take ballet lessons
- And if ballet is more demanding than soccer
10 Benefits Soccer Players Can Get From Ballet
Soccer is a sport that requires a good sense of balance, strength, and a keen awareness of your body position and surroundings.
It also requires agile movements, creativity, and complex motor skills since you won’t be able to overwhelm your opponents with just strength. Flexibility is also a key variable in soccer.
Combining and improving your performance in all these areas helps you be better at:
- Receiving passes from a teammate,
- Avoiding tackles while dribbling with the ball,
- And most importantly, they will help you steer clear of injuries.
That’s where ballet can help soccer players.
Soccer athletes can get numerous benefits from ballet classes.
Here are ten significant benefits soccer player can get from ballet:
1. Improvement in Cognitive Ability
Ballet classes sometimes seem to be easygoing and leisurely. However, participants continuously repeat exercises, and they can be incredibly fast-paced.
If the instructor is strict enough, they won’t show you the motion more than once. Hence, class members are under pressure to think about multiple things simultaneously.
Your arms, feet, legs, and timing all have to match and be perfect at the same time.
Your cognitive functions are put to the test and challenged all the time so that you can multitask and make the right decisions quickly and be more proactive at it. The rise in cognitive ability can be highly beneficial to soccer athletes.
Cognition plays a crucial role in the quick decision-making of soccer athletes.
Soccer players have to come up with new solutions in a constantly evolving and dynamic environment. With higher cognitive ability, they can make quick decisions before the next period of play and also helps them to execute the same motor controls with less effort.
2. Improvement in Coordination
Any theatre performance of ballet dancers would tell you how coordinated they are. In ballet class, every exercise demands your entire body to be coordinated and in sync.
Your shoulders must be relaxed, posture straight, core engaged, and you should move your arms along with the flow of the body and the legs. You have to do all that according to the tempo of the music and think ahead about the upcoming movements for your limbs and arms.
It’s even more impressive when you think they have to do all that while maintaining a turnout.
This strengthened connection between the mind and the body, and hyper-awareness would also help you on the soccer field. You need great coordination at high speeds to track the moving ball and snatch possession when the time is right.
Coordination becomes more important when you play for different positions.
Midfielders need to snap the ball at the first opportunity and scan the whole field to look for an open player.
Forwards have to monitor all the defensive players and the midfielder to judge how they should receive the ball to advance their movement.
Increased coordination from ballet classes would undoubtedly help.
3. Improvement in Speed
You may not associate ballerinas with speed. However, the muscles worked during ballet classes are the ones that are responsible for lightning-fast movements.
Imagine a USWNT player on the field who can take long and fast strides to outrun her opponents to safety, receive a pass and score a goal.
She uses her hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes to their limit to sprint to safety and matches the pace of her quick thinking to her legs.
These muscle groups are worked tirelessly with extreme precision in ballet classes.
Apart from that, those exercises don’t just strengthen your muscles but make them long enough to add the tangible difference in flexibility. So, whenever you want to burst out in explosive movement from a static position, they aid you in the best way possible.
4. Improvement in Strength
It may not seem like it, but all moves in ballet classes are designed to build your strength.
Fast and slow movements along with leg lifts use many muscle groups along with an immense muscular focus for perfect execution. Moves in ballet classes like the side-lying passe, classic releve, and kneeling hinge strengthen and elongate your leg muscles.
It also contributes to speed.
Ballet also strengthens your feet, something overlooked by soccer workouts.
You need to do footwork and isolation exercises in ballet to make your foot muscles supple and strong. With strong feet, players can own the field. It also improves your jumps and agility so that you can be at the top of your game.
You also need to focus on your core and abdominal muscles in ballet classes to keep a straight posture and maintain grace. This can help a lot in strengthening your core to achieve body stabilization in critical situations.
Unfortunately, players often ignore core strength in soccer-oriented workouts, but you can make up for it with ballet classes.
To really take advantage of the potential of ballet I would recommend you follow a workout program alongside it that gives you some clear direction to your training. Just “doing some ballet” is not bad but you will achieve your goals quicker by following a format laid out by someone with a little more experience.
This is why I created “Your Soccer Fitness Guide.“
If you want to be a great soccer player, you need to be at the top of your fitness game, and the beauty of the fitness program I’ve included in this guide is that it helps you reach your fitness goals in only 30 days.
I recommend you check this out today and start moving towards being the best and fittest player you can be.
A great soccer player is a fit soccer player.
5. A Full Body Workout
Ballet can be an excellent form of cross-training for soccer athletes. It doesn’t just improve your strength and fitness but also reduces the risk of injuries.
With ballet cross-training, load and stress are distributed throughout your whole body and more muscle groups. When you strengthen muscle groups, your ligaments and joints support you better and help you with performance. This makes you less vulnerable to injuries after your soccer career.
6. Increased Endurance and Stamina
When you see videos on ballet classes, you see dancers along ballet bars doing slow movements for a few minutes. Because of this many people may have the misconception that those classes don’t contribute towards raising your endurance and stamina.
However, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ballet exercises demand a tremendous amount of strength and focus. When you do it repeatedly on the same muscle group, you develop an awful amount of sweat. Continue that for one hour, and you have done 60 minutes of intense endurance workout.
Short and powerful bursts of power followed by short periods of recovery make soccer an aerobic sport. So, athletes require a lot of endurance and strength to avoid injury, resist fatigue and stay on the field for as long as possible. Ballet exercises can certainly help.
Moreover, endurance exercises can also improve your overall health since you experience increased blood plasma and red blood cells due to those exercises.
7. Reflex Power
A ballet dancer jumps with a lot of grace. Hence, you may not be able to perceive the impressive power and strength behind their action.
With increased cognition and muscle power in ballet classes, athletes get a significant advantage on the field. The millisecond reflex to receive or pass a ball comes naturally, and leaping into the air to avoid a hit becomes easier.
8. Lean gains
Even the frailest UEFA Champions League player leaner than a regular person. A lot of time is spent in the gym for weight training and growing those muscles.
However, those gains mostly give you strength and take away your flexibility.
Participants undertake ballet exercises with their body weight. Hence, the movements in ballet classes elongate and stretch your muscles to make them leaner. When muscles are lean, they remain more flexible and responsive and are less vulnerable to tearing or sprain that can put you out of critical upcoming games.
9. Improved Balance
Ballerinas are known for their balance, and that balance can make a significant difference for soccer athletes.
Each exercise in ballet needs you to engage your core, align your posture, consider your center of gravity, and maintain balance. When you acquire a lot of balance from these classes, it helps you in the field to prepare your body for necessary lunges and sharp twists. You can maneuver your body in more ways without the fear of eating dust.
10. Increased Mental Focus
Ballet dancers require a lot of mental focus to execute complex and challenging motions flawlessly while making it appear effortless.
Soccer players can use the enhanced mental focus for more rational decisions in a tense situation and deliver the ball to the other side.
Increased mental focus can also help with anxiety before a big game and help players achieve their best on the field. For amateur college soccer players, it may help to contain nervousness in front of a big crowd.
Do Soccer Players Take Ballet Lessons?
Practicing ballet provides a host of benefits that can help all types of athletes.
Many soccer players do take ballet lessons. Former England and Manchester United soccer player Rio Ferdinand took ballet lessons. He credited it with improving his ability on the soccer field.
Interestingly, there is far more information about football players who have taken ballet lessons and seen the benefit.
We can draw some inferences from this because taking ballet lessons has enhanced the skills of these other types of athletes.
Willamette University hired Monya Maleki to teach their football players to be ballet dancers. Maleki, a former student of the school, graduated in exercise and health science and used that expertise well. Even the football team’s head coach agreed how this new form of cross-training was unusual yet effective.
Renowned football player Steve McLendon also took up ballet during his senior college years and has stuck to the dance form ever since. He may not wear the Ballet Tutu (costume worn by ballet performers) but credits the dance form to keep him away from injuries.
Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP Lynn Swann has also talked about the benefits he got from ballet.
The notion of ballet helping football players get better at their game isn’t new and becoming increasingly common.
Football and soccer are quite different types of games from one another. Still, both demand tremendous agility, flexibility, and cardiovascular strength from the players. Thus, it is safe to assume that if ballet can benefit football players, it can also help soccer players.
If you want to see how similar soccer and football are in this area, have a look at my article – Soccer Vs. Football: How the two compare.
Is Ballet Harder Than Soccer?
There has long been an acknowledgment that there are significant similarities between a soccer player’s body and a dancer’s body.
Comparing different sports is also fascinating. And as I was writing this article, I was curious to understand whether ballet was harder than soccer. Here’s what I discovered.
Ballet is harder than soccer. Ballet requires a consistent level of skill, strength, balance, and coordination that a soccer player only needs to achieve in part to reach the top of their respective professions.
Although being a professional soccer player requires a high level of performance and skill, the intensity and discipline involved in becoming a great ballerina are a level above this.
There is also a far high barrier to entry for ballet.
One of the reasons soccer is so popular is because anyone can play it. All you need is a ball and somewhere to kick the ball around.
To be a ballerina, you need some idea of what you’re doing and then spend many hours practicing and improving.
Although soccer will always be my favorite sport, I can acknowledge that ballet is probably a harder discipline.
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