Some of the hottest new dance and ballet products out there are geared towards pirouettes – spin spots, turn boards, and turn discs all claim to help dancers execute their turns faster, cleaner, and in greater numbers! But, is all the hype worth it?
Do turn boards really work? And an even better question – are these products safe for dancers?
Yes, when used correctly and in tandem with proper ballet and jazz training, turn boards and spin spots can be safe and helpful for some dancers looking to up their pirouette or turning skill and technique.
However, many factors go into executing clean, technically correct multiple pirouettes, and only some of those factors can be helped by a turn board or spin disc, and in fact, some of the necessities of turning properly may even be hindered by using some of these products.
Keep reading as I explain the pros and cons of using turn boards, and give tips for beginner dancers, as well as advice for advanced dancers.
What Is A Dance Turn Board?
A turn board is a tool dancers stand on that decrease friction between the foot and floor and helps them to turn or pirouette for longer than they would without one.
Turn boards were originally developed for ice skaters to practice their dizzying, physics-defying turns on a flat foot.
The following are some of our Favourites from Amazon.com 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!!!
QUICK FACTS ABOUT TURN BOARDS
|Turn boards are usually about the width of a cell phone, about 3 inches, and around 12 inches long.
|They are usually made of either hard plastic or wood.
|Generally rectangular in shape, however, most are curved slightly, while others are flatter to allow the board more connection to the floor.
|How they are used
|Turn boards are meant to be used while a dancer is flat-footed, and the aim is to allow them to find the feeling of achieving multiple rotations.
|Why they work?
|Turn boards remove much of the friction between the foot and the surface of the floor. Also because of their curved shape, turn boards create instability for the dancer, which forces them to engage their core muscles to stay upright.
One of the questionable aspects of using a turn board as a dancer is that turn boards do not allow you to practice turning on relevé, so there is a chance that a dancer can develop bad habits if using a turn board as their primary source of pirouette training.
How Is a Turn Board Different From A Spin Spot/Turn Disc?
A spin spot or turn disc (both terms are used to describe similar products on the market) are round, spherical discs about 5-6 inches wide, with a thick foam padding covering the top.
Spin spots are meant to be used while the dancer is in relevé, which is how most dancers in the ballet and jazz genres of dance turn. Because of their spherical shape on the bottom, turn discs provide a similar instability to the turn board but force the dancer to be in relevé, which is the technically correct position for pirouettes.
Also in line with what a turn board offers, spin spots and turn discs create less friction between the foot and the floor and allow dancers to execute multiple rotations.
Both turn boards and spin spots are looking to achieve the same goal – to help dancers turn more, better, and faster!
But – they aren’t magical tools in and of themselves. Your dancer needs to already have their own technical tools in place for these products to help.
Can a Beginner Dancer Use a Turn Board? How About a Spin Spot?
Yes, a beginner can use a turn board – but with some caveats.
Every young ballerina’s dream is to twirl and spin – even children who don’t take ballet love the feeling of spinning and swirling around and around.
As dancers train from a young age, they are learning the building blocks of how to turn correctly, and most of those building blocks don’t actually involve any rotation at all!
5 Skills A Dancer Needs to Use a Turn Board or Disc
Some of the key components to eventually achieving beautiful pirouettes include:
- Balance – the ability to stand straight on one leg, both on flat and on relevé
- Proprioception – the awareness of one’s own body moving in and through space
- Core strength – using the abdominal and back muscles to support good posture
- Turn out – the flexibility and strength to keep the hips open to achieve the correct position
- Spotting – using the head and eyes to quickly whip around to maintain balance and not get dizzy
As early as pre-ballet, dancers are learning about all of the components that are needed to turn, without actually turning.
Because these skills are still being developed, using a turn board or spin spot for toddler dancers is not advised.
However, by utilizing a turn board or a spin spot without adding any rotation, beginner dancers ages 8 and up may be able to achieve some of those key components, like balance and core strength, a little bit quicker.
The instability of the turn boards and spin spots create the perfect environment to work on balance and core strength in a safe way.
What exercises should I do before using a Turn Board or Disc?
Some great exercises on how to use a spin spot without actually turning can be found in an article I recently wrote to compliment this one:
It may not be as fun as spinning like a top, but using spin spots and turn boards in a more stationary way is surely the safest, most effective way to help beginner dancers, and are certainly worth utilizing in a controlled, supervised way.
Will A Turn Board or Spin Spot Help My Advanced Dancer?
For the younger but more advanced dancers, a turn board or spin spot can help them get over the mental and physical block that sometimes occurs when they plateau at 3-4 turns.
Even dancers who use correct technique or are advanced in ballet can often feel stuck when it comes to achieving multiple rotations in pirouettes.
An advanced dancer in this predicament will often be doing everything right, but just need to actually feel what 5-6 turns feel like in their body to figure out how to get there on their own.
That’s when a turn board or spin spot can be really helpful.
What are some Advantages of Using a Turn Board?
An advantage to using a turn board for an advanced dancer involves pushing past internal boundaries and changes in the body.
As teen and tween dancers are growing taller and their bodies are changing, they often lose their center of gravity and their proprioception in the short term.
What was easy at 10 years old becomes a huge challenge at 12 or 13, and it may feel like multiple turns are simply a dream.
Here is where a turn board or spin spot can be of monumental help.
Adding a turning accessory to pirouette training at this stage, when the dancer already knows and executes the key components to proper turns, can be the answer to your dancer’s prayers!
How Do You Use a Turn Board or Spin Spot?
You use a turn board or spin spot by placing the smooth sideon a flat surface, with your flat foot of the supporting leg on the board. You then use your standard pirouette preparation in either parallel or turned out, before using torque to turn.
On a spin spot or turn disc you will place the ball of your foot onto the padding instead of the sole of your foot.
For more in-depth instructions check out the article
What is the best turning board?
We love the Pirouette Master, but it seems to be out of production.
The Turnboard Pro is another great option as not only does it do its job, but you can Bluetooth it to a device such as your phone and record how many spins you can accomplish.
Check out our resource page here for more information on a v.
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 and Resources
The Best Turn Boards & Discs for Dancers! Products Bought & Reviewed!
Teacher Approved Turn Board Exercises for Dancers To Improve Balance & Turns
Popular Turn Boards: Worth It & Safe? Dance Teacher Explains!
How To Use a Turn Board or Disc? Dance Teacher Instructs!
If you would like to read about more tools for improving dance that we have written about and reviewed including turn boards check out these articles below!