Hope Solo plays goal and dances with the stars.
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Sometimes, soccer players find their superbly trained bodies serve perfectly well for dancing -- at least informally. For example, U.S. women's goalie Hope Solo guested on вЂњDancing With the Stars," and Ghana's men's and women's teams join in a circle and perform traditional West African dances after goals. While an especially athletic dancer and an unusually graceful soccer player may have overlapping body types and abilities, dancers and footballers typically diverge.
The Soccer Body
Unlike basketball and football, soccer welcomes all body types, especially at the recreational level. In terms of the male pros, lean and muscular players ranging from about 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 feet, 1 inch are typical. A 2009 study found an average height in Europe, for example, for male footballers at the top clubs is 182 centimeters, or 5 feet, 10 inches. Female players on the U.S. women's team top out at the height of forward Abby Wambach at 5 feet, 11 inches, with many closer to 5 feet, 7 inches or 5 feet, 8 inches.
The Classic Dance Body
Long and lean has tended to be the preferred build for male and female dancers, especially in ballet and modern dance since the U.S. arrival of legendary choreographer George Balanchine in the 1930s from Europe. Ballet classes for beginners welcome all body types, but ballet's professional ranks look for tall and thin. Professional contemporary dancers are even more lean, or ecto-mesomorphs, than ballet dancers, who tend to be meso-ectomorphs.
The Dance Fitness Body
Short and strong works fine for dance fitness, including Zumba Fitness and its creative offshoots such as Bokwa and Movez by Adelicia. For example, Baltimore-based Movez instructor Adelicia Villagaray, just 5 feet tall, runs a large independent dance studio. Her petite frame can pop the quick, slinky moves of samba, bachata and similar Latin, international and hip hop disciplines more crisply than a willowy dancer. Similarly compact veteran Zumba Fitness and Bokwa instructors Cynthia Chavez, Rowena Mejia and Kathy Graham stand around 5 feet, 4 inches or shorter and display fit, conditioned bodies.
A side-by-side comparison of two training and anatomy guides, вЂњDance AnatomyвЂќ and вЂњSoccer Anatomy,вЂќ by fitness publisher Human Kinetics, helps to illustrate the nearly complete lack of overlap between preparing the soccer body and the professional dance body. вЂњDance AnatomyвЂќ by Jacqui Haas contains wall sits to build the glutes as well as a simple curl exercise to build the hamstrings, also crucial to soccer. The "Dance Anatomy" focus is heavily on work to build flexibility, spinal strength, openness, precision dance-specific agility, leaping ability, grace, and foot and toe strength.
вЂњSoccer AnatomyвЂќ by Donald T. Kirkendall looks to create power and explosiveness as well as core, leg and arm strength specific to soccer. Its hamstring exercises call for a partner to resist your curl motion. You work with teammates, loaded bars, dumbbells, soccer balls, step-up benches and weight machines as well as your body weight. There, you won't see hovering plies, assisted developees (a barre exercise to stretch the adductors) or descending battements. These delicate moves are to be found in вЂњDance Anatomy.вЂќ