I’ve noticed in my years as a swing dancer that soccer tops the list in sports that occupy Lindy Hoppers when they’re not dancing. If you’re curious as to why that is, this may offer some insight into the connection between soccer and dance.
Good coordination is a vital part to succeeding in all sports. For example, Health Fitness Revolution writes that in soccer, coordination is essential due to the dramatic shifts in pace and judging how to play the ball. Coordination is something that young players learn at an early age and one of the new innovate ways to increase coordination and other soccer skills is through dancing.
One such program is Soccer Jam which is a new type of soccer training that combines “soccer footwork exercises choreographed with energetic, clean music to help players develop foot coordination and muscle memory.” The founder of Soccer Jam is Kelly Knauss who not only played soccer at a semi-pro level but also earned a four-year master’s degree in leadership and teaching methods. His program states that his training sessions will improve young players individual technical footwork and boost game performance.
In order to see the benefits of using dance to improving soccer performances on the pitch, beyond amazing goal celebrations, it is vital to see how closely linked the sports are. Five-A-Side Football Coach states that soccer “encompasses footwork, power, endurance, agility, balance and other abilities that are held in high regard on the dance floor too.” For instance the soccer site compares the art of dribbling to the “virtuosity of dance” as both require the body to be manipulated in order to move quickly.
An example of a professional soccer player with dancing experience was former Manchester United captain and England national soccer team player Rio Ferdinand, according to Men’s Health. The soccer star told Men’s Health that he credits ballet with improving his balance on the soccer pitch. Dancing has become identified with professional soccer due to the elaborate celebrations of players after scoring. Rush Canada, the largest youth soccer group in the world, even state that “if you watch Cristiano well enough you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him perfecting his dance moves either at training or when he scores. Likewise, Lionel Messi and Neymar are avid dancers.” Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the top two players in the world, according to soccer preview site Betfair with Ronaldo winning the award for best player of year in 2016. And if young soccer players should focus on developing their skills, they should look no further than the likes of Ronaldo and Messi to become the best they can moving forward.
Live Healthy in their article The Body of a Soccer Player vs. a Dancer state that competitors from both sports have overlapping body types.The health site cited the success of US goalkeeper Hope Sole on Dancing With the Stars as an example of how easily the two sports can be interchanged due to the same type of fitness requirements.
As young players embrace the rhythm and coordination of dancing and incorporate them into their soccer training we could be seeing more exciting and dynamic players in the future of the game. Dancing and soccer may seem like worlds apart, but combined together they can create a formidable player who will also be in line for the best goal celebration of the season.