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How To Use a Turn Board or Disc? Dance Teacher Instructs!

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A turn board is a rectangular piece of plastic or wood that is designed to decrease friction between the foot and floor allowing a dancer to turn or pirouette for longer.

A turning disc or spin spot is a similar tool but is made in the shape of a circle.

As it is smaller only the ball of the dancer’s foot can fit and be placed onto the the disc, where as the whole flat foot can be placed along a turning disc.

Three images of turn boards, one of a foot on a turning disc, another of a foot en releve on a turning board, and the last of a flat foot on a turning board

The following are some of our Favourites from that Samantha creator of Dance Parent 101 has personally bought and tested. If you choose to purchase using our links, we receive a small commission that helps us continue to maintain this website at no extra cost to you! So thanks!!!

For Samantha’s review on the boards check out the article

Are Turn Boards and Turn Discs for Beginner or Advanced Dancers?

Turn boards and discs can be used by both beginner and advanced dancers, but will be used in different ways.

I go through the basic step-by-step instructions on how to use a turn board in the next section, but beginner dancers really should also take a look at my article Teacher Approved Turn Board Exercises for Dancers To Improve Balance & Turns.

What Skills Do You Need to Use a Turn Board or Disc?

Before using a turn board to practice turning, a dancer should know how to do a pirouette. This can be either from a parallel or turned-out position.

A dancer should be well versed in the preparation positions for a pirouette and have been practicing balance as well as rotation exercises and be able to execute at least one pirouette correctly before attempting to use a turn board or disc!

Are Turn Boards and Turn Discs Safe?

When used correctly turn boards and discs can be a useful tool for most dancers. I discuss more about their safety in detail in the article Popular Turn Boards: Worth It & Safe? Dance Teacher Explains!

How Do You Use a Turn Board?

Turn boards are slick on the bottom, and they will be incredibly unsteady and slippery for a first-time user.

Make sure your dancer has an open, clear space to practice without anything in the way.

Turn boards are best used on hardwood floors or a dance floor, and should not leave any marks.

The key to using a turn board as a more advanced dancer is the old adage, “Slow and steady wins the race”.

Step 1 – Practice Balancing on Your Turn Board

The first step to using a turn board is to focus on balance and core strength.

If you’ve chosen a turn board, in which the dancer will be balancing on a flat foot, it is best to practice simply standing on one foot on the board before adding any rotation.

They should get a feel for what changes when their weight shifts to the front, back, and side, and notice what their standing foot is doing while all of this happens – is it wobbling?

Sinking into the center or falling out towards the side?

(Parents, for this next part, your dancer should know what all of these ballet terms mean – feel free to share this with them if you go ahead with your purchase of a turn board!)

Step 2 – Use Your Normal Pirouette Preparation

As the surface of the turning board is slippery, practicing their pirouette preparation is important for learning where to place their weight so that the board does not slip or slide before they start turning.

Most dance students should have already learned the basics of pirouette preparation and if they have not think about using the turn board in some of the ways I describe in the article Teacher Approved Turn Board Exercises for Dancers To Improve Balance & Turns first, or waiting until your dancer has begun learning pirouette preparation and technique in class.

Just like a pirouette without a turn board, the dancer should begin with proper preparation, placing the standing foot on the turn board (either parallel or turned out, depending on which kind of turn they want to do), and the working leg either in parallel fourth or turned out fourth.

They will press off from the working foot and bring the working leg to passé or coupé.

Make sure to maintain engagement of all the core and leg muscles just like you would when turning normally. 

Try just balancing from preparation a few times before turning to see where the weight naturally wants to go and try to correct any imbalances.

Step 3 – Engage your Core Muscles and Exert Torque to Turn

After your dancer has become comfortable with their preparation, now it’s time to add some torque (the twisting force used in the core, shoulders, and arms when turning).

Be sure your dancer is mindful about how much torque they’re using – with a turn board, less is more.

Because of how slick these products are, a very gentle start to a pirouette is necessary so that no one goes flying!

Start out with one to two rotations.

Step 4 – How to Stop 

Some turn boards have “brakes” at the back to help dancers stop themselves from turning out of control.

But the easiest way to stop yourself is to simply put your other foot down on the floor.

It will take some time to work up to doing multiple, consecutive turns on a turn board.

But, if the dancer uses all of the components of good turn technique that they already know from their regular dance training while using a turn board, multiple rotations will happen before they know it. 

How Do You Use A Spin Spot or Turn Disc?

Your dancer should follow the same instructions as the turn board when practicing on a spin spot, however, there are a few differences that you need to be aware of.

The main difference is that spin spots or turn discs are meant to be used while the dancer is balancing on the ball of their foot, or to use the ballet term, on relevé.

Similar to the turn board directions, it is best to begin testing out balance before adding any rotations when first using a spin spot.

Unlike a turn board, which only rocks front and back, the surface of a spin spot curves upwards from it’s center and so is wobbly in all directions, creating an even more unstable surface on which to balance. 

It may take a bit more practice to develop the control to balance on relevé on a spin spot, which is fine!

Don’t let your dancer get discouraged. It cannot be overstated that slow and steady wins this race to multiple turns.

There are no “brakes” on a spin spot, so putting the working foot down is the best way to safely stop turning. 

Not Sure Which Turn Board or Spin Spot To Buy? Check Out Our Favorites!

Just like most products for dancers, there are a ton of options! Here at Dance Parent 101, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite products for stretching, strengthening and flexibility, including turn boards and spin discs. You can find our recommendations here

The technical proficiency of dancers grows by leaps and bounds every generation, and products like turn boards and spin spots, when used safely and correctly, and in addition to proper training, are a worthwhile investment for dancers looking to push the boundaries of their pirouettes. Happy turning!

Further Reading

Popular Turn Boards: Worth It & Safe? Dance Teacher Explains!
Teacher Approved Turn Board Exercises for Dancers To Improve Balance & Turns
How To Use a Turn Board or Disc? Dance Teacher Instructs!
The Best Turn Boards & Discs for Dancers! Products Bought & Reviewed!