Untraditional pre-season physical training model for 10-12 year-old ballroom dancers

Postgraduate student A.P. Rodichkin1
Dr.Hab., Professor G.N. Ponomarev1
1Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg

Keywords: ballroom dance sport, special physical training practices, competitive period, functionality test rates

Background. The key mission of a precompetitive training system is to ensure the individual best sport form being attained by the time of the target competitive event. The theoretical and practical trainings shall model as close as possible both the conditions of the upcoming event and the key performance scenario – with the latter interpreted as the dancing routine execution at the sub-competitive pace, with a special emphasis on the dancing techniques, special endurance and willpower trainings under the competitive performance scenario [2, 5, 7].
Precompetitive trainings prior to the core event shall be managed with the performance mimicking trainings increased up to 90-95% of the daily training scope in some days. Dancing routine training intervals shall be made longer with the rest breaks cut down – to secure the competitive fitness being achieved by the deadline [1, 3, 5].
The competitive performance mimicking trainings at the final precompetitive stage shall be designed and managed so as to maximize the functionality rates and excel the techniques at the competitive pace [3]. Since the training process intensity is maximized at the precompetitive stage, the high-intensity trainings need to be prudently rated and managed in the total training scope [1, 2, 6]. It should be underlined that the high-intensity trainings, when mismanaged, may be of negative effect on the competitive fitness building process and, hence, should be reasonably limited in every precompetitive training period [1, 4, 5]. Generally, the high-intensity trainings may reach 43-45% in the final precompetitive stage for competitive success. Further growth of their share in the trainings may be detrimental to the competitive fitness.
Objective of the study was to assess benefits of an untraditional precompetitive physical training model for 10-12 year-old ballroom dancers.
Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for the study run in September 2017 through May 2018 were 18 couples of the 10-12-year-old dancers (just promoted to Class D) from Rond Dancing Club (Saint Petersburg), with the study timed to the competitive period. The sample was split into Experimental Group (EG, 10 couples) and Reference Group (RG, 8 couples), with the EG and trained as required by the new untraditional precompetitive physical training and traditional precompetitive physical training models, respectively. The pre-experimental tests found insignificant differences in the EG vs. RG fitness rates. 
The EG training model offered, among other things, the following special untraditional physical practices:
1. Circle mid-pace run in the European position with 0.5kg hand weights: three 2min intervals;
2. Slow-pace left-right trunk rotations in European position with 0.5kg hand weights: five 2min intervals;
3. Sitting flat-back European position with 0.5kg hand weights: three 2min intervals;
4. Fixed Latin position, with one arm straight aside with the palm down and the other arm bent in elbow with vertical forearm and palm down, with 90-degree left-right rotations of pelvis, and with 0.5kg hand weights: four 2min intervals;
5. Dynamic Jive swing/ kick elements: four 2min intervals;
6. Fixed top-tonus European position: three 45s intervals;
7. Back-forward straight-legs max-amplitude mid-pace run with 0.5kg foot weights: three 2min intervals;
8. Upstairs (1 to 5 floor) high-pace 2-step-stride 7min runs followed by the slow-pace 1-step-stride downstairs returns;
9. Slow-waltz-paced semi-squats with the arms stretched aside, with 0.5kg hand weights: three 1.5min intervals;
10. Standing knees-to chest jumps, three 15-jumps intervals;
11. Mid-pace Burpee exercise – squat to prone, back to squat, straight jumping with a clap over the head: three 1-1.5min intervals; and
12. A few versions of the Plank exercise (prone straight-arms rest; rest on forearms; legs-apart prone rest, wide-arms rest, prone rest with alternative arms-legs lifts, side rest with the free arm up/ down): four 1.5-2.5min intervals.
Pace of the above practices was set by the music illustrations, with the 20-32, 32-44 and 44-58 bpm rated as the slow, middle and high pace, respectively. Weekly traditional trainings in the Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast dancing sport clubs, as reported by the coaching teams, are generally the following: Monday: 1.5-2-hour Latin dance group trainings; Tuesday: 1-hour individual trainings; Wednesday: 1.5-2-hour European dance group trainings; Thursday: 1-hour individual trainings; Friday: 1.5-2-hour European plus Latin dance group trainings; Saturday: 1-1.5-hour standard physical conditioning practices.
The EG was trained as follows: Monday: 30min non-standard practices (6-8 untraditional exercises on the coach’s discretion) prior to the main training; Wednesday: 30min non-standard practices prior to the main training; and Friday: 20min untraditional practices prior to the main training; and Saturday: 1-1.5-hour untraditional physical practices.
The performance quality was rated by the quality rating system of our own design, with the separate ratings for the static and dynamic elements [4]. The static elements are generally interpreted as the partners’ positions in the dancing sequences. We rated the static performance by the following standard criteria: (1) straight elbow-to-elbow line via the shoulder joints; (2) deflection of the shoulders by the latissimus dorsi; (3) the partner’s left arm is 90° bent in the elbow, the forearm is 45° to the floor; 4) the partner’s hands are locked with the thumbs straight and tight together and pressed to the partner’s index finger; (5) the partner’s right arm is 30° bent in the elbow, the hand is bent (with the thumb pressed to the index finger) and fixed on the partner’s left shoulder blade; (6) the partner’s left hand with the index, middle and thumb fingers holds the partner’s right forearm at the top of the deltoid muscle; (7) the women’s right hand is 160° extended; (8) abdomens are retracted, with good contact in the knees to the xiphoid process; (9) knees bent, with the body mass center above the toes; and (10) heads extended upward.
The dynamic performance elements generally refer to the footwork (feet and knees) and body action (arms versus the thighs positioning) and may be detailed as follows.
Footwork (feet): (1) feet positioning in different stepping techniques (toes/ heels controlled); (2) feet control tight to the floor; (3) hand point control in the feet positions; (4) sixth choreographic position compliance, with the inward feet controls; (5) lift on the toe in the foot flexion; and (6) the foot push in front leg sliding movement.
Footwork (knees): (1) knees bending and straightening move smoothness; (2) knee bending in the drive action element; (3) leg straightening and body mass control in the forward moves; (4) down-from-toes movement smoothness; and (5) harmony of the knees and feet move controls.
Body action: (1) harmony of the arm moves in body actions; (2) rotation execution quality; (3) sway execution quality; (4) extension execution quality; and (5) distortion execution quality: see Table 1.

Table 1. Dance performance quality rating system, points

Static elements


10 points

8 points

6 points

4 points

2 points







Dynamic elements


5 points

4 points

3 points

2 points

1 points













Вody action






Note: points are summarized for the elements executed by a couple

Results and discussion. For the new untraditional precompetitive physical training model benefits rating purposes, we sampled the equally skilled D-class couples. The post-experimental European dance performance quality tests showed the EG performance rates being meaningfully better than the CG ones in every of the five dances: see Table 2. It should be mentioned that the performance quality was rated in tournaments by the outside refereeing teams i.e. fair and objective enough.

Table 2: Post-experimental performance quality in the EG versus CG, points


RG (n=16)

EG (n=20)

Slow waltz






Viennese waltz



Slow foxtrot






Note: *р<0.05

Conclusion. The new untraditional precompetitive physical training model for 10-12 year-old ballroom dancers was developed on the key principles of the modern physical education theory and practice and customized to the sport-specific anaerobic-aerobic performance requirements. The new untraditional precompetitive physical training model was designed on a weekly basis and tested in a yearly training cycle. The post- versus pre-experimental performance rating tests showed the new untraditional precompetitive physical training model being highly beneficial for the age group as verified by the competitive progress of the EG versus RG. The EG qualifications for the D-class were significantly (р<0.05) faster than in the RG taking 1.2 year at most. Moreover, the EG dancers in the post-experimental period successfully qualified for the C-class in the tournaments.
The progress was facilitated by the performance quality and physical fitness rating system of our own design. It was tested beneficial as it gives objective fitness rates and performance quality scores for the same-class couples. The performance quality and physical fitness rating system secures fair and statistically meaningful progress profiling for the same-class couples for qualifications for the next skill class. The performance quality and physical fitness rating system made it possible to develop frame profiles for the qualification classes and put the progress tests on an objective basis.


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Corresponding author: g-ponomarev@inbox.ru

The key mission of a precompetitive training system is to ensure the individual best sport form by the time of a core competitive event. Modern ballroom dance sport gives a special priority to physical fitness of the competitors, with the physical progress of the beginner dancers secured by special physical training practices. The special physical training practices are generally designed to mimic as close as possible the competitive environment and performance plus attain some specific goals, e.g. excel the dancing techniques, improve endurance, build up the mental control skills and willpower for success in competitions. Objective of the study was to assess benefits of the untraditional precompetitive physical training model for 10-12 year-old ballroom dancers. The model makes a special emphasis on the mental conditioning components of the trainings to encourage the high dancing activity, vigor, motivations and self-confidence, regardless of the dance technicalities.