The Dance vs. Sports Dilemma
Kids and teens are often faced with the problem of trying to balance multiple extracurricular activities. Most often students feel like they have to choose solely between playing athletic sports (soccer, basketball, etc.) or dancing (ballet, jazz, tap, etc.). We agree you can't always do everything. But, if you are highly driven and focused with good time-management skills, you can do both and will benefit from doing both.*
First-hand experience in balancing dance and sports:
Megan Miller is a former Mary Lorraine's Dance Center dance student. While she danced competitively she was also highly involved in athletic sports. Megan now resides in Iowa City where she is a pediatrician. We had a few questions as to how she managed to play sports and dance!
Q: What was your involvement in sports and dance?
A:"I started dancing at Mary Lorraine's Dance Center at the age of 2, taking ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and pointe classes. I also competed on Mary Lorraine's Dance Center dance competition team. As for sports, I played recreational basketball, softball, and soccer when I was younger. When I got to high school I played Varsity soccer at Millard West High School as well as select soccer for Omaha Football Club. I went on to play soccer in college as well."
Q:How did dance help you in sports? How did sports help you in dance?
A:"Dance helped provide me strength, flexibility, and coordination, all which helped me excel in sports. As for soccer, we did a lot of running so that helped my endurance in dance. Being versatile by playing several sports also helped avoid overuse injuries, which is common in kids who focus on only one sport."
Q:What challenges did you have doing both sports and dance and how did you manage?
A: "I often had soccer and dance on the same night. As a young kid I went to ballet class first, then my dad would drive me to soccer practice and I would eat dinner in the car. One time I was in such a rush I threw on my soccer shorts over my leotard and tights. Let’s just say I got some grass stains on my pink tights!
I definitely had to make sacrifices and hard choices. When it was time to learn recital dances I had to plan accordingly to make sure I didn’t miss more than was allowed. If a soccer game ended at 8:45 pm, I would run to dance after to be there for the last 30 minutes of class. If I did miss entirely, it was for a big game. And I made sure I quickly picked up the choreography from a friend. I also had open communication with my coaches and teachers to make sure any misses were approved ahead of time."
How did you manage all these activities with school work?
"Because I loved dance and soccer, I had to make sure I stayed on top of my school work. I would finish projects early if I knew I had a busy week of practice and dance classes. I also utilized all the time I had in school to finish any homework and get a head start on studying.
When I was a student, social media wasn’t as big as it is now, so I didn’t have that distraction. My recommendation to students would be to put the phone away while studying and put your phone away before bed so you could get a good night of sleep.
If your passionate about both sports and dance, it is possible to do both. While understanding that you have to be highly committed and focused while also being willing to make sacrifices."
Thank you Megan for helping dedicated dancers and athletes know that if they time-manage, organize, and communicate, they can do both sports and dance while in grade school and even into high school!