National Dance Coaches Association
January 2018 Newsletter
Inside this Issue:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
- REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the 2018 NDCA Inaugural Conference on our NEW NDCA WEBSITE
- Preventing Injuries: Warming Up, Stretching, and Cooling Down
- A Team Building Exercise You Can Use TODAY!
- 2018 NDCA Conference Speaker: Sterling Brown - Growing Leaders
- Preventing Dancer Growth Plate Injuries
- Dear Old School Coach ... Bad Apples Cause Team Drama
- Video Tutorial: Top 3 Exercises for Higher Jumps!
2018 NDCA INAUGURAL CONFERENCE
Thursday, May 17th 2018 at 5pm to Saturday, May 19th 2018 at 10pm
1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway
Preventing Injuries: Warming Up, Stretching, and Cooling Down
There are 3 Stages a teacher/coach should take their dancers through when rehearsing and performing:
1) Warm up
3) Cool Down
The warm up should focus on raising core body temperature, which increases blood flow to the muscles, promoting flexibility and strength. The warm up should include moving through joint ranges of motion, but not reaching maximal ranges due to potential for over stretching/injury. First warm up with running in place, jumping jacks, etc. to get blood flowing. Warming up brings the body to a condition at which it safely responds to nerve signals for stretching. A warm up should last around 5 minutes.
Once the dancer is warm, then it’s okay to start stretching. This stage should include both static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is when a stretch is held in the same position for certain amount of time (around 30 seconds) and dynamic stretching involves moving a joint through its full range of motion without holding. An example of dynamic stretching would be to go down into a lunge then straighten your front leg (keeping hands on the floor) flex front foot, and then return down to the lunge.
A cool down is important because it helps flush lactic acid, decreasing muscle soreness and preventing injury. Cool down is extremely important, but it’s something we often forget. The consideration here is that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) begins 24-48 hours after initial activity. So, doing a cool down after the maximal activity, and doing submaximal activity (minimal exercise/below maximum effort) on the rest day (off-practice day), will help decrease the effects of DOMS and help performance. This might be especially important during dance competitions where dancers compete in multiple categories on different days.
Bio: Laila has a degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis on Health Education and Injury Prevention. She has over 30 years experience in the industry coaching and teaching in the US and Europe.
Here is a great link to an article that talks about dancers and stretching:
A Team Building Exercise You Can Use Today
Chelsea Pierotti, a proud NDCA member and a sport psychology consultant who owns Passionate Coach, offers this advice about team building:
Be deliberate about team bonding. Especially when the season is in full swing, don't neglect the need for a break. Even if you are prepping for a big event (in fact it's even more important) end a practice with a 'Just for Laughs' game or stop in the middle and do a 'Cooperation' game. It allows for a mental break or physical cool down during difficult practices and reminds the team why they are working so hard towards a common goal. I encourage you to make it a priority to incorporate a small team bonding game or opportunity once a week. It only takes 5 minutes!
Consider trying this "Just for Laughs" game at the end of a stressful competition practice.
Use Those Hips!
Break the team into two or more groups. Each group sits on the floor facing a wall and sends one dancer to the coach. Give each dancer a word (secretly so they don't hear each other's word and make it two different words that have the same number of letters). Each dancer returns to the wall in front of her team, puts her hands on the wall with her back to her team, and tries to spell the word using her hips and butt. The first team to guess the word correctly gets a point. Next, continue to round two and send new dancers up to coach for a word. Continue until everyone has had at least one turn and the team with the most points wins! Bonus: you can make the words thematic and related to what’s going on in the season like football words, ballet words, summer break words, or "what's in my dance bag", "locations in the school" etc. Be creative and enjoy some laughs next practice!
Need more ideas? Click (below) to download your own free copy of "15 BEST Team Building Games for Dance Coaches"
"Marching Off the Map" - Growing Leaders
Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country. The population in this new land has different attitudes (many entitled and narcissistic) and speaks a different language (emojis and social media). Attention spans are six to eight seconds. They multi-task on five screens. They often possess multiple personas on social media platforms. Understanding and connecting with this generation is often times frustrating and draining.
The old maps that helped adults navigate students through adolescence are now producing graduates who move back home, are afraid to take healthy risks, and are unwilling to start at the bottom of a career path.
We’re in new territory.
We need new strategies on how to navigate new land… to march off our old maps and create new ones.
That is what this book is all about. From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource.
"Today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders. Let’s equip them for this ever-changing world."
Preventing Dancer Growth Plate Injuries
What is it?
Most dancers have open growth plates until they are 16-20 years old. Most often, dancers injure the hamstring attachment to the buttock region of the pelvis. This is called the ischial tuberosity epiphyseal plate.
This injury occurs when one attempts to over-stretch the hamstrings. This can happen over time, or in one instant. It is more common during a growth spurt, as bones can grow faster than muscles. The two sides of the body may also grow at different rates.
What does it feel like?
Typically a dancer will think she has a hamstring strain, but it doesn’t seem to go away. Most often a dancer complains of buttock region/hamstring pain with stretching the involved hamstring. Examples include pain with splits, kicking, forward pike stretch, straddle stretch, and leg holds. The dancer may or may not have pain with sitting, walking, and running. Sometimes, if the injury occurred at a specific moment, there may have been a “pop” noise.
What can coaches do to help prevent this?
Most of the time, we are performing hamstring stretches with the goal of improving kicks, splits, or leaps. Improving skill goes beyond hamstring flexibility. Here are a few tips to help improve skills without over-stretching hamstrings:
1. Use a small ball (like an indoor lacrosse ball) to release the glutes. Find tender spots in the glute muscle and hold each one for 30 seconds. Aim for identifying 3 spots on each side. Relax into the release point for 30 seconds. Try to avoid bony areas. Tight glutes appear to limit hip flexibility.
2. Stretch the hip flexors. One favorite for dancers is yoga “hero” pose. Many times dancers forget about their back leg flexibility, and stretching the hip flexors can help with the back leg.
3. Work on hip and core stability exercises. For example (see pictures below), Pilates offers many options for hip and core stability exercises. Basic exercises like hip bridges, planks, and sidelying hip scissor can help strengthen key hip and pelvis stabilizers. When a dancer doesn’t have enough hip and pelvis stability, the muscles will clamp down and limit the motion.
4. If you suspect a dancer might have this injury, avoid stretching the injured hamstring.
Bio: Meredith is a Dance Medicine specialized Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Certified Specialist, Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, and Pilates/Yoga Instructor based in Minnesota. She is a life-long dancer and performer, currently choreographing and performing with Fitness Universe and Savage Fitness. In her free time, she loves collaboration and sharing her passion for keeping dancers health with the NDCA.
Here is a link to more information on growth plate injuries:
Sidelying Hip Scissor
Dear Old School Coach ...
Bad Apples Cause Team Drama
How do you deal with one or two bad apples causing drama inside and outside of the team?
The old saying “one bad apple can spoil the bunch” was never more true than it is on dance team. I wish I could say I’d always been successful in overcoming this problem. If there is any type of disingenuous or deceptive behavior involved, the challenge is exponentially more difficult.
The first trick is to identify the true source of the problem. If these are teenagers, they can’t always be counted on to be accurate. You want to know which of the dancers are the bad apples for sure. It’s not always as it seems.
Secondly, you want to know what the source of the issue is. Are they just negative nellies? Someone is hooking up with someone else’s boyfriend? Someone is exercising superiority over others due to dance ability, tenure or because of a thirst for power? What is the actual issue? I find that drama “inside and outside of the team” sort of blends in to one another.
How is the drama being perpetuated? This group of girls has gathered together a gang that doesn’t like this group of girls and via the use of private social media or other...the effect is spreading?
Once you are confident you have a grasp on the situation I guess it’s time for some tough talk. “This is the way it’s going to be”, “This is what is expected to be part of this team”, “retribution against those who have reported you is grounds for immediate dismissal”. Give the bad apples a chance to “be heard” and tell their side also. Add some personal advice/wisdom/input from you. ** Maybe something super significant is going on in their home life - it is IMPERATIVE you know whether this is happening or not. Your support and understanding can be life changing for your athletes if this is the case.
Then, once heard, the laying down of the law might be required. I always insisted that no matter what is going on, no matter the beefs they have off the court, when they walk in that gym they leave it at the door. Period. Or don’t come through the door. And if the beefs “off the court” continue to interfere with the team, they’ll risk losing their membership on the team.
If they’re young enough, a meeting with coaches, the athlete and their parent is sometimes effective. Having a parent hear first-hand about certain behaviors can sometimes win you an ally. It can gain you an enemy as well - so be careful how you approach this. This is also part of documenting the steps you have taken, which may be important down the road.
Another difficulty can be when the TEAM is telling you there’s a problem with an athlete that you aren’t seeing/experiencing. Like with an athlete you have a good relationship with. In this case - you may have a kid who doesn’t get along well with their peers but does well with adults. There is great value in this type of athlete so encouraging some type of acceptance on behalf of the complainers (rather than the “bad apple”) might be your approach. Depending on what is truly occurring.
- But in the end - no matter how talented they are, if they can’t stop causing drama they gots to go. This is where documentation is very important. I sometimes sent a warning letter - in written form. Make sure you’ve looped your AD in when you’re getting to this point. And just know - one of the hardest things to do is dismiss someone from a team for their general behavior, team dynamic or character defects. I’ve done it. It wasn’t fun. But it was necessary. Document. Document. Document.
- Sometimes none of this works. I am going to admit straight out that some years are just tough, you have a mix of people that make it that way, and all you have in your back pocket is “next season”.