Updated: Feb 24
When I ask dancers what their top areas of improvement are, 9 times out of 10, they'll answer with more attack, more stamina, or more power. And I get it, Irish dance is hard! I want to know, do you, or a dancer your know, also have one of these issues?
ATTACK - A dancer's ability to move with quick sharp movements. This can be especially hard for dancers who have a "slip jig style" of dance and then transition to reel.
STAMINA - A dancer's ability to complete a full round, maintaining technique throughout
POWER - A dancer's ability to both execute high jumps and move across the floor with power.
In this 4 part blog series, I'm going to be breaking it all down so dancers and teachers can better understand how to improve these three areas in a dancer's performance.
PART 1 - LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
Following the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Optimum Performance Training Model (see image) is a great place to start. The first step to training attack, stamina and power (ASP) is to develop your stabilization . This includes a lot of core development, pelvic stability and balance work.
CORE & PELVIC STABILITY
One major muscle group within the core are your abs, or your abdominals. The most well-known abdominals are the rectus abdominis (the ‘six-pack’ muscle) and the obliques (on the outside of your torso), but a deeper muscle, the transverse abdominis, plays a major role in core and spine stability. In addition to your abdominals, the core also includes the muscles on the back of your body. One group of muscles, known as paraspinals, run the length of your back along your spine in order to stabilize it. They support your back and you use them every time you bend, twist, or arch your back.
Another major muscle group that makes up the core are the gluteal muscles, or glutes. The glutes also provide support and stability to your legs, pelvis and trunk.
Core strength is critical to the stabilization of your spine, pelvis, and legs, especially for dancers. A weak or underdeveloped core can lead to an increased risk of injury and less efficient movements, especially with movements as complex as Irish dancing. An underdeveloped core can also lead to compensatory mechanisms in your dancing - your body’s way of ‘cutting corners’ around weak muscles to achieve movements like jumps, kicks, and even rhythms - that can lead to poor technique, strain and overuse injuries.
Balance affects force, power output and movement velocity. Poor postural control and balance can have negative consequences on a dancer's power output. Whereas good postural control and balance has been shown to increase speed - so important for dancers working to improve attack, speed and power (ASP).
Begin with a single leg balance exercise. See how long you can hold that without shifting your upper body, putting your free foot to the ground, or hopping. Ready for a challenge? Try closing your eyes.
Once you have that single leg stability, try a single leg deadlift. Standing on one leg with your arms extended out to the side, hinge forward into a T shape (T for Target Training!). Make sure your foot, hips and head are all in one line and parallel to the ground without arching in your low back. Complete 6 reps on each side.
Want to take the guesswork out of your attack, stamina & power training?
Join the TT Online Institute to complete some of our power, attack, and stamina videos. Not yet an athlete with the Online Institute? Your first month of training with the ‘Trainer’ subscription is FREE with the code 1MONTHFREE! Click HERE to get started today!
Alves, A. R., Marta, C. C., Neiva, H. P., Izquierdo, M., and Marques, M. C. (2016). Concurrent training in prepubescent children: the effects of 8 weeks of strength and aerobic training on explosive strength and V[Combining Dot Above]O2max. J. Strength Cond. Res. 30, 2019–2032.
Assuncao, A. R., Bottaro, M., Ferreira-Junior, J. B., Izquierdo, M., Cadore, E. L., and Gentil, P. (2016). The chronic effects of low- and high-intensity resistance training on muscular fitness in adolescents.
Attene, G., Iuliano, E., Di Cagno, A., Calcagno, G., Moalla, W., Aquino, G., et al. (2015). Improving neuromuscular performance in young basketball players: plyometric vs. technique training. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 55, 1–8.
Behm, D. G., Drinkwater, E. J., Willardson, J. M., Cowley, P. M., and Canadian Society for Exercise, P. (2010b). Canadian society for exercise physiology position stand: the use of instability to train the core in athletic and nonathletic conditioning. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 35, 109–112.
Behm, D. G., et all (2017). Effectiveness of Traditional Strength vs. Power Training on Muscle Strength, Power and Speed with Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Physiology.
Behringer, M., Vom Heede, A., Matthews, M., and Mester, J. (2011). Effects of strength training on motor performance skills in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Pediat. Exerc. Sci. 23, 186–206.
Granacher, U., Lesinski, M., Busch, D., Muehlbauer, T., Prieske, O., Puta, C., et al. (2016). Effects of resistance training in youth athletes on muscular fitness and athletic performance: a conceptual model for long-term athlete development. Front. Physiol. 7:164.
Marques, M. C., Pereira, A., Reis, I. G., and van den Tillaar, R. (2013). Does an in-season 6-week combined sprint and jump training program improve strength-speed abilities and kicking performance in young soccer players? J. Hum. Kinet. 39, 157–166.
Ratel, S., Duche, P., and Williams, C. A. (2006). Muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise in children. Sports Med. 36, 1031–1065.
Wong, P. L., Chamari, K., and Wisloff, U. (2010). Effects of 12-week on-field combined strength and power training on physical performance among U-14 young soccer players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 24, 644–652.