Jumps while dancing is always one of the most eye-catching things a dancer can do. But just being able to jump a little bit won’t wow the crowds the way that leaping higher into the air will do. So how do you get better and higher jumps into your dance routine without injuring yourself?
Learn the Basic Mechanics
One of the first things most dance teachers will focus on is the basic mechanics of jumps and postures that are focused on how the body works. This often means functional arms and no turnout but a focus on things like a squat, solid landing position as opposed to an upright plie.
As the dancer starts to learn the basics of how the body jumps and becomes stronger, then the learning of how a dancer jumps can be added to the training. This means that the stylised jumps can be added to the basic understanding of how the body moves.
Focus on Height
Another approach is to focus on height first and then learn everything else after that. As seasoned dancers know, you can’t straighten your legs or stretch your ankles if you aren’t far enough off the ground in the first place! Therefore, the training focuses first on achieving that height.
So, the training starts with how to get your body as far off the ground as possible. Once a decent amount of height is achieved, then work on things like leg lengthening or feet stretching can be added. Often this is done with simple activities such as jumping over water, playing basketball, or even just reaching for an item on a high shelf!
Understanding Jumps & Your Feet
Another important part of achieving more height is to understand the part that feet play in everything. Many dancers put their focus on their legs muscles and while this is very important, things like pushing off with feels and rolling through feet are also very important.
Warmups that focus on the feet can then make a big difference to the ability to jump. The classic approach of working feet through until all toes are off the floor and assuming this will make jumping easier doesn’t always work. This is particularly true if the dancer has high feet arches.
Dynamic stretches or rolling out the bottoms of feet will help to keep feet supple and therefore improve jumps. Once this is one, work on stretching those muscles to ensure they are doing the work you need from them.
Get the Right Technique
Finally, having the right jumping technique is also important. Some dance teachers look at things like the feet and toes pulling the knee into the plie, as opposed to the knee bending into it. This creates a natural bounce that allows the dancer to jump into the air.
Taking powerful steps in the direction of the jump is also helpful. Getting the foot that pushes off from the floor in front of you is a great way to jump higher and longer because you have momentum coming into the movement.