Top 8 training tips for Salsa/Bachata/Latin dancers.

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Think about the last 6 months. Whoa… fast time flies?! Now imagine 6 months in the future, you’ve been practicing your dance technique within your daily routine, and your skill level has improved!

Crazy talk? I think not!

Let’s start with the here and now! Most people barely have 2 mins to spare in their day let alone an hour to practice their dancing technique. Fitting the 8 training tips into your daily routine is the key to success!

Two things will help you stay motivated:
1. Try to limit your training time to 30 seconds- 2mins and merge it with one of your daily activities. We’ll give some suggestions along the way so you can get started asap!
2. Make it a priority to learn and practice!

The 8 tips are:
1. Calf raises
2. Listen to music every day
3. Pivot Turns
4. Heels on the inside
5. Flexibility (lengthen and strengthen)
6. Practice your movements slow (As we say, ‘the difference is in the details’)
7. Practice smiling while you’re training. Sounds silly although a useful weapon on the dance floor!
8. Rest those muscles!

1. Calf Raises

How can you get to triple spins?

Picture of Panda Bear placing up it's hand to answer the pivot turn question

Yes little cutie? That’s right, make sure you can stay balanced on one foot for at least 3 seconds. You need to build the strength in your ankles and legs to support the spin. A ballerina doesn’t get put into pointe shoes until her muscles are strengthen first.

Daily Routine: Do this while brushing your teeth.

2. Listen to the music every day

Get familiar with the type of music you dance to. Whether it’s Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, or Merengue music, play the music and try to find the one count, how the music is played and try to pick out different instruments. A great way to start is by nodding your head to the music like Quagmire below. Most people nod down on the count of one so now you have a 50/50 chance of finding the one! Woohooo.

To increase those odds, it’s great to take a musicality workshop at festivals or your local dance school.

Daily Routine: Have the music playing on your mobile device on the way to work and nod to the beat. Easy! You can start that today.

Quagmire Giggity GIF
from Quagmire GIFs

3. Pivot Turn

Pivot turns are the grounded ones which stay on the spot. How do we achieve them?

Through practice, practice, practice! To find your center of balance is a personal experience. Everyone has a different body shape, height and structure so it’s important to find where you feel centered whilst turning. Random fact: A female’s center of balance can change after birth as sometimes her hips have widened!

Start with a ¼ turn, when you’re feeling balanced proceed to a half turn, then ¾ turn until finally you make it to a full turn. Then it’s onto 2 spins! Try 1 ¼ then 1 ½, 1 ¾ then finally 2. Keep this going until you reach your goal.

Here is a quick training video to guide you.

REMEMBER! Only practice for 30 secs per day! Imagine putting in 30 seconds per day and in a couple of months you’re up to 2 spins! Possible? Absolutely, I’ve seen it happen!

Please don’t over practice because your muscles fatigue and your body will remember the last practice.

Daily Routine: before you get some food from the fridge, stop, practice for 30secs (no more) then proceed to the fridge.

4.Heels on the inside

Having your feet in a tiny triangle shape helps with balance. Especially if you’re wearing high heels. Having the heels on the inside whilst you’re walking or dancing helps with balance. It doesn’t need to be a ballerina’s turn-out. Just a small turn out will gain the results for latin dancing.

Daily Routine: Start walking to work or around your home consciously with your heels on the inside.

5.Flexibility (lengthen and strengthen)

After exercise, this includes social dancing all night, take the time to stretch out those muscles. Remember as you stretch those muscles they need to be strengthen them! Think of Yoga or Pilates exercises!

Daily Routine: After the gym or workout, take 10 mins to stretch out your muscles. To strengthen, hold a movement in place for 10 seconds. For example, lifting your leg up to waist height and holding it there for 10 secs, then swap legs.

6.Practice your movements slow (As we say, ‘the difference is in the details’)

One movement I liked to practice is the ‘shoulder punch’ while I walked to work! No, I didn’t shoulder punch people on the streets… though, there was that one time… :p

Salsa dancer Rebecca Pollard dancing to turn off the lights song

Every time I took a step on my right foot my right should punched forward and every time I stepped forward on my left foot my left shoulder punched. Ok, it looked a little strange to some- although I could double-time those shoulder shimmy’s in just a few months! Worth it!

Another trick is to imagine someone is taking a photo of you while you are dancing. Put your hand up if you’ve had a terrible dancing photo?

If you slow down your movement, you can see what every part of the movement would look like if someone took a photo at that exact point.

Daily Routine: Before you go to bed (just for 30 seconds) stand in front of a mirror or reflective window/door and slow down a move you have been working on. Once you feel comfortable with the movement start to increase the speed of execution.

7. Practice smiling while you’re practicing- sounds silly although a useful weapon on the dancefloor!

Ever noticed if you’re forced to smile in your job you end up smiling? The act of smiling helps improve your mood and your health. The more you feel the activity is fun the more you’ll want to do that activity.

Sad dog face who wants to danceIt also helps to practice smiling in training before you hit the stage for a performance. If the nerves sneak up on your the smile with protect you. 

On the social dance floor nobody wants to dance with a saddy face! WELL…. Maybe this one!

8. Rest!

Too many dancers go out dancing, never stretch, strengthen or rest their bodies then get injured. Who has time to get injured? NOT ME! It’s important to rest your body. It needs time to recover. If you’re super keen to learn, you can always watch dance videos in your recovery time ;-p

The key to success is to place these tips into your daily routine. On the commute to work, walking to the printer, getting some food from the fridge, brushing your teeth! Do a little training each day and in 6 months you’ll be looking back at how fast time flew, although this time as a better dancer. 

If you have a great tip for dancing training we’d love you to share it in the comments below!

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