There are many layers to an Irish dancer's performance much more than what we had 20 years ago.
Back then, the main focus was on technique, but the display of speed, sharpness, and power did not develop well until it's later years.
Today, our sport has transitioned into movements completed as fast and as powerful as possible, and with that change comes a great increase in the different layers of training that is needed to achieve this result.
Not only can this be overwhelming, but like anything new, it brings questions and confusion as to what training should be completed and how it should be done.
RNH was created to provide training in all of these different areas and today’s blog is about exploring each type of training, what it is, and when you can complete it.
Should you prefer to listen instead of reading, you can click here and listen to our podcast on this topic.
So let’s begin:
If we look at rugby or American football and go back 20 years, these players were much thinner, lighter, and more nimble. But as athletes, we are constantly looking for ways to display our skills better, which is how they all became bigger, faster, and stronger.
Irish dancing is no different, and once we hit the era where females began to embrace strength training more openly, we saw a huge jump in the performances on stage and started to understand just how strength translated into our performance.
The good news is we are still very early on, and many dancers have yet to fully embrace all of the types of training that can be completed. For those who do, however, you are looking at a potential increase in performance more than you have ever seen before.
So what are the types of training and when should they be done?
Below we have listed the five main areas of performance and how you can go about improving each one.
1. Dance Technique
Learning a new skill takes time and repetition. If you are only starting do not worry about including multiple types of training and just practice, practice, practice. As a beginner, practicing technique will naturally improve your fitness and strength to a certain degree. Then, when you have a great technique you can add some strength and speed training on top too.
The reason why a technique will always come first is that adding speed to movements that are not yet perfect just yet will make the errors stand out even more. Hence the reason why we must always learn to walk before we can run!
You can find workouts like this in our TECHNIQUE TUTORIAL classes online.
2. Strength Training
Muscles are designed to create movements, and so stronger muscles will always create stronger movements, which is exactly what we need to do on stage.
If you are a dancer who has good technique but lacks power and height, then you need to look at increasing your strength levels to get that lift on stage.
Completing bodyweight strength movements such as squats, lunges, step-ups, and some plyometrics will go a long way in improving your strength base. Then as your experience improves you can look to add extra resistance in the form of dumbbells, medicine balls, and kettlebells.
You can find workout's like this in our JUNIOR & SENIOR Academy programs online.
3. Dance Fitness
If your fitness levels are struggling towards the end of a dance then there is a way to boost them without having to include dance technique at the same time.
We recommend stamina and endurance running in the off-season, switching to sprint training in the in-season the closer you get to competition time!
You can find workouts like this in our RNH OUTDOOR fitness classes or our JUNIOR/SENIOR Academy programs online.
Flexibility training is a great way to improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness directly after your training. We recommend light stretching after class and on rest days for overall recovery, performance, and keeping you injury-free.
Static stretching is a great way to cool down after class to improve overall resting flexibility, whereas dynamic stretching is a great way to get loose before class and prepare your body for what’s about to come.
You can find our flexibility training by joining our STRETCH CLASSES online.
5. Technical Corrections
No matter how well-practiced your steps might be, sometimes there are stubborn areas that never seem to improve such as turnout, crossing, or front clicks.
These issues require a greater focus to correct the tightness and alignment that is causing them. We recommend training these daily for 6-8 weeks until improvements have been made.
The main thing you need to know about issues like turnout is that you are trying to change the alignment of the leg, and just like when you are changing the alignment of your teeth by wearing retainers, the process is very simple but it takes a long time and constant pressure.
You can find corrections like this in our DANCE INJURIES & TECHNIQUE section on our platform.
If you are new to many of the different types of training listed above we recommend that you incorporate a blend of all 5 into your weekly training routines as progress can be made across them all. Then when you are comfortable doing so it is best to analyse your performance and list the main weaknesses that you have. Take these weaknesses and pair them with the correct type of training and make them a priority in your training. These will take up the most time each week with your strengths being maintained in the background until you weak areas have improved.
Should you need any assistance with your training just email us at [email protected]