In one round of a reel (three steps), elite Irish dancers land and push off of one foot almost 200 times. Unilateral training (training one leg at a time) is necessary to the development of a powerful, balanced and injury free Irish dancer. Read below to find out why.
Bilateral (both legs) training is important during your first phase of periodization (check out our blog article on periodization HERE) where your intention is to improve your overall strength and power. Once this foundation of strength is in place, is it important to train specific to the needs of an Irish dancer which emphasizes unilateral training. Unilateral training will improve an Irish dancer’s balance, proprioception (sense of your body position in space), and power and correct imbalances which will reduce the risk of injury.
Why unilateral training is crucial to Irish dancers:
CORE ENGAGEMENT - Unilateral training stresses only one side of the body forcing you to engage your core and compensate for the uneven distribution of weight. Strong core = improved stabilization = more power and reduced risk of injuries.
IMPROVED BALANCE & PROPRIOCEPTION - When an Irish dancer is performing they are flying around the floor, turning and jumping. Unilateral training allows a dancer to improve their balance and proprioception which translates to improved movement in all directions and reduces their risk of injuries.
CORRECT IMBALANCES - Because you are training each leg individually, it allows you to correct imbalances between legs (right/left) and within one leg (posterior/anterior - front/back). Correcting imbalances will lead to an increase in power and decrease in injuries.
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