Dance: Incorporating Sports Movements Will Get Boys Involved in Your Dance Unit

Dance: Incorporating Sports Movements Will Get Boys Involved in Your Dance Unit

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

While introducing a dance unit to your phys-ed class, you hear the predictable groans of protest from your male students--especially the jocks.

Here are some ideas for turning those groans into cheers. How, by using part of the unit to develop sports skills.

The following ideas come from Gayle Kassing, a dance teacher who has developed a class called Sports Movement for Boys at her studio in Bloom-ington Illinois. The class has become so successful that she has added additional boys' sections and a similar class for girls.

Sports Professional Role Models
Before you start the unit, inform your class that ballet dancers are excellent athletes with skills that are useful in any sport. In fact, many professional athletes take dance classes to improve their body control, balance, flexibility, coordination and strength.

Examples include basketball star Michael Jordan; football's Willie Gault (Chicago Bears); Olympic gold medal diver, Greg Louganis; football's Heisman trophy winner Herschel Walker and baseball pitcher Dave Stewart. And the Oakland A's baseball team has danced in the Oakland Ballet's The Nutcracker for the last three seasons.

Developing a Sports-Dance Class
The goal in this unit is to develop sport skills by focusing on movements common to both sports and dance.

You can use the same format as your regular phys-ed classes: start with a warm-up, then strength and flexibility work, skill development, the use of these skills in a game situation, and conclude with a cool-down.

Warmup, Flexibility and Warmdown
Your warm-up, strength, flexibility and warmdown routines can use many of the same exercises you presently use.

Skill Work
One way to develop sports/dance skills is to play follow-the-leader, moving in a figure-eight around the class and performing different sports/dance-related movements.

Concentrate on coordination, balance, agility, and changes in level and direction. There is no need at this point to use dance terms in describing these movements--such terms might scare off your jock-types.

Examples of related movements include:

  • Run from corner to corner. Students try to jump up and touch the ceiling at the center of the gym.
  • Run and stop quickly, or run sideways or backwards. Do spins, or run then stop and immediately change direction.
  • Hop and skip. Skipping can be forwards or backwards and include an overhead clap.
  • Run and spin in the air.
  • Do combinations rhythmically to music. For example, walking to the music, then running, hopping three times and spinning in the air.


Teachers Can Use Balls to Make Dance Moves Seem More Sport-Like
Teachers Can Use Balls to Make Dance Moves Seem More Sport-Like
You can then perform games that will develop movement abilities.

  • Students run and jump over the teacher who is lying on the floor. Students could also move through the teacher's legs.
  • Students run past the teacher who throws the ball at them. Students must perform a movement such as a hop, skip or spin, catch the ball, then pass it back.
  • The teacher holds two hula hoops at various levels. The students must move through one hoop then complete several movements, such as two hops and a spin, then return through the other hoop.
  • Students perform various multi-directional movements, such as hops, steps and spins at different levels while bouncing a balloon with different parts of
    Dance: Incorporating Sports Movements Will Get Boys Involved in Your Dance Unit
    their body.

Reference: Gayle Kassing (Ph.D., Associate Professor of Dance, Illinois State U., and co-owner of The Dance Center, Bloomington Illinois), "Sports movement for boys." Dance Teacher Now, September 1991, 5 refs.

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