From improved brain function to increased endurance, ballet can have multiple positive effects on an athlete’s career. Check out 7 unexpected benefits below!
Company Dancers Arianni Martin and Helio Lima. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
1. Brain function
Learning routines in ballet can help athletes keep their mind sharp during the off-season. Scientific studies have proven that dance activates certain regions in the brain, resulting in memory improvement and strengthened neuronal connections. Athletes can benefit from this immensely when it comes time to learn and retain new plays.
“It’s harder than anything else I do,” says current NFL player Steve McLendon when discussing cross-training with ballet. As an aerobic exercise, ballet requires consistent movement, which can be beneficial to most athletes looking to build up endurance on the field.
3. Athletic performance
Have you ever seen a professional soccer player with poor footwork? Probably not. Uncoordinated athletes typically don’t go far in their careers. Practicing ballet can increase athlete’s coordination, balance, and athletic performance.
Simply stretching before or after a workout may not be enough for high-performance athletes looking to increase their flexibility and range of motion. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), “Flexibility naturally decreases with age. The stretching in ballet can help restore lost joint motion and improve function.”
Athletes can cut down time in the weight room. The AAOS proclaims that “the use of body weight in ballet is a good form of strength training. This increases muscle tone, strength, and endurance, as well as bone strength.” The same article states that “Being stronger [also] reduces your risk for injury and improves your performance in sports.”
Ballet can help athletes work on timing. From learning how to keep up with the tempo to practicing reaction times, athletes can benefit from dance in more ways than just physically.
In order to perform various jumps and other moves such as an arabesque in ballet, one must be able to balance properly. Fortunately, athletes can work on their balance and agility in ballet class. Just check out the iconic Sleeping Beauty Rose Adagio balances and you’ll understand right away why dancers are athletes too.
Jillian Barrell and Ballet Arizona company dancers in class.