Matt Williams is a former professional ballet dancer and Fitness Coach who owns The Prima Collective, a company looking to redesign the way dancers interpret Health and Fitness.
What is Strength and Conditioning?
Strength and Conditioning or S and C is the physical and physiological development of athletes for elite sport performance. The principles of S and C have been around various sports for decades now and professional ballet is finally starting to take some of the principles on board for professional dancers. The role of strength and conditioning is to use exercise prescription specifically, to improve performance in athletic competition. It is also used to help athletes with injury prevention and to develop proper mechanics within their sports performances.
There's a lot more about Strength and Conditioning than just lifting weights. It encompasses the entire development of the athlete, and finely tunes what is needed to improve physical performance. This includes plyometrics, speed and agility, endurance and core stability with strength training being just one piece of the jigsaw.
With ballet being one of the most physically demanding pursuits on this earth, it is therefore very important that dancers begin to take strength and conditioning seriously with the goal not only being increased performance but also injury prevention and career longevity.
How does Strength and Conditioning have a performance impact?
Research has demonstrated that not only does training improve performance, it also shows that incorrect training can cause decrements to performance. Strength qualities vary between sports, athletes within the same sport have different technical and physical strengths and weakness and therefore require specific interventions. These specific needs must be identified in conjunction with a technical coach to ensure optimum results.
Once the specific strength qualities have been identified, they are measured and tracked to ensure that the strength and conditioning programme is being effective and achieving its specific targeted goals.
A well-designed strength and conditioning programme, in conjunction with technical support, can increase the athletes 'tolerance to training' and decrease the chance of injury. This is done through identifying both areas subject to over load during the sport and individual weaknesses within the athletes.
Specific benefits to ballet dancers.
Finally, the taboo of ballet dancers lifting weight is starting to disappear. The Royal Ballet have been particularly active in showing the benefits of ballet dancers performing compound moves whilst under load. The idea that a dancer lifting weight will end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger is starting to become a distant idea. However, it is important that dancers use the correct protocols at the right time to reap the benefits of S and C. The main benefits of a well written S and C program include:
- All of these benefits would be welcomed by any dancer in training or professional. So why wouldn't you want to start incorporating an S and C plan into your dance training?
- improved fitness,
- improved strength,
- decreased chance of injury,
- greater jump height and the ability to increased frequency of demand of jumps,
- improvement in aesthetic appearance of the dancer (more toned physique)
How do I get started?
Keep your eyes peeled. Over the coming months, The Prima Collective are in collaboration with BalletFriends. We'll be bringing you loads of FREE content to help you get started with your very own strength and conditioning program.
In the meantime.
For further information about anything you have read in this article, please feel free to contact Matt directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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