Archive for the ‘Endurance’ Category


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Endurance is important–but how important?

Here’s a thing about endurance that dancers should understand: you only need a certain amount of it, and any extra endurance won’t help you much.

If Susie can perform the routine once and not be out of breath, that’s great! If Barbara can perform it ten times in a row and still not be out of breath, that’s great as well. But who will do better in the actual performance? They will both perform the same. Why? Because they only perform the routine once (in a row) in the actual performance. So, now you know–you don’t need to have super levels of endurance to be a great dancer. … (come read the rest of the article at the new site! )

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So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for :).

Here is my suggested 3-step routine that will help you elevate your kicks. The only thing is, like the one with the splits, you need to be doing this everyday. I think that’s the hard part. This isn’t a week-by-week thing. You need to continue stretching, practicing, and strengthening your legs everyday. If you reserve 15 minutes a day for each step, your kicks will be 10º higher in 3 weeks. I hope three weeks is short enough for you to keep up your motivation!

This might also be a good idea to do with your team, so that everyone will have high kicks in three weeks.


1. Stretch
You must be flexbile in order to get high kicks. Some stretches and stretching routines are in my splits article.

2. Stregthen
You need leg stretch to get your kicks high.

Everyday, you should be kicking. Try kicking with heavy clothes on your legs or heavy shoes on (no high heels!). It will force you to use more energy. It’s kind of like lifting weights, except with your legs. If you have an elastic exercising strip (I forget what those are called, but it’s basically a stretchy rubbery rope that you pull with your arms to exercise), use it. Put it around one ankle, step on the ends with your other foot and bring your leg as high up as you can.
Another one: lift your leg up in kick position as high as you can without a bounce. Hold it there for fifteen seconds and try not to waver too much. Switch legs.
It might also help to lie down on the ground and have a friend stretch with you. Lie down, face up. Point both toes and keep both legs straight. Have a partner elevate one leg as far towards your nose as possible. The strengthening part comes here–you try to elevate your leg high while your partner pushes you back. Doing it to a count/beat/music will help.
Kick to a medium tempo song, 2-4 eight counts. Kick for as long as you can do the kicks perfectly. Once you start getting sloppy, stop and take a break. Your goal is to be able to kick the amount of 8-counts in the routine, perfectly. So, keep up the endurance. Everyday, do three sets of kicks, and make them all perfect. The length of the set depends on your good your endurance is. If you can only do one eight count perfect, that’s fine. Just keep doing it everyday, and you’ll see that number go up to 1.5, 2, and eventually to the number of eight counts you will need to last. Remember that the routine doesn’t end with kicks, either! So make sure that after kicking, you still have some energy left.
The best way to improve your kicks is to keep kicking. Endurance is a huge part of having good kicks. Once you’re tired, your unpointed toes and bend knees and bad posture won’t matter–you just want to get it over with. You need to have enough energy so that you can think about these things.

3. Practice, in context
Practice your kicks in the routine, because those are the ones that matter the most. Do the whole set. If you feel exhausted by the end, you’re not there yet.

Comment and tell me how your kicks are looking. 🙂

After practicing an entire drill routine, you may feel exhausted, sweaty, and worn-out. You definitely don’t want to do it again, but you know that you have to because you need to improve. But you’re still winded every single time you do the routine. What do you do?

Many “drillers” (from here on out, I will use the word driller to refer to a drill team member) create “tired spots” during their routine. Sound familiar? This is the part of the routine–usually near the middle–where you are tired and lose the ability to stay sharp and, at the same time, keep your posture back, angles strong, smile bright, etc. This is definitely not the right thing to do. Judges can look at you at any point in the routine, and you can’t just hope that they don’t see you when you’re tired. It happens, and you shouldn’t risk it.

Drillers also tend to be weak at the beginning of the routine so that they can show it all off at the end (or visa versa, where you’re super-sharp at the beginning and show your tiredness at the end). This is a wrong solution also, because again, a judge can see you being sloppy and probably won’t appreciate it. So, what’s the solution?

Ultimately, your goal is to keep your endurance throughout the whole routine. Sounds impossible, right? It’s not. So, how do you do it?

One way to accomplish this task is to try completing the first four 8-counts of the routine as sharp as you can without giving up. Don’t be sloppy because you’re tired. Mentally tell yourself to do it. Pretty easy? Now take a one-minute rest to catch your breath and get some water. Now do the same thing, except with the first six 8-counts. Harder, isn’t it? This activity is both a mental and physical exercise. Endurance involves both. You need the mind to push yourself but the physical strength to actually do it. It’s like waking up in the morning. You know that you have the physical strength to get up, but you need to make your mind agree with you. So, this exercise makes your mind work hard to motivate you, but at the same time, your physical strength is improving because you are making yourself work harder. The hardest part about this exercise is actually getting started and motivating yourself.

Another way to improve your endurance is to do half of the routine everyday. Once you’ve finally got the half-way point down (usually the point with the most endurance problems) without being super tired once you’re done, add the whole routine in and do it once a day. You’ll be able to push yourself harder at the end, which is usually where everyone else starts to breath heavily and become extremely tired.

Captains and coaches often make this same mistake: “If I make these girls perform the routine ten times in a row, their endurance will improve”. This sometimes works, but it is simply painful, time-consuming, and hardly effective. Making drillers perform the routine once is already tiring, so will tiring yourself out ten times improve your endurance? Maybe a little, but it’s not a fun process. Girls will already start losing their sharpness and giving up the second time they perform the routine. So, what this method does is make girls give up and make them tired with little improvement in endurance. I know that doing the routine a million times made me angry at the captains and coach. It had no purpose and I was tired; I just didn’t want to do it and all I could think about while I was doing it was how stupid this was and how much I hated the routine and how long it was and how tired I was… I don’t think that’s exactly a good thing.

Being on a drill team requires a lot of endurance. The thing about drill is that it is a performing art. It’s not a sport like track or cross country. Drill has to look “pretty” in order for it to be good. You don’t have to have good posture or a good smile when you’re running track, although you need endurance. For drill, you must make yourself mentally stronger to make every angle perfect and every move sharp. You can’t even make yourself look tired. So you need to start improving that endurance!