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The Splits

Guest galenaballet

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Guest galenaballet

Hi Everyone,


My daughter seems to be having a bit of a problem mastering the splits. She is doing very very well in other areas and is frequently used as an example, but those darn splits are driving her nuts! :)

She is very long,lean & gracefull but not very limber. I heard the teacher mention that this is the easiet time to master the splits and it will only get harder.

Does anyone know how often she should be working on this at home? Anything I can do to help strech her out???


Thank you much! :)


P.S-she is nine

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Hi Galenaballet!


I am far from an expert but my son is 10 and finally got over a year long slump with his front splits on one side. For a year now, he could do center and one side front splits but not the other. He was always about 4-5 inches off the ground. It was driving him nuts and causing a bit of discomfort when he tried to go down further. I had no suggestions for him but my husband (and ex-pro athlete) did. His suggestion was to take a nice hot bath (not too hot--just the nice relaxing kind) and stretch afterward, while your muscles are still warm and relaxed. He also told my DS to make sure he exhaled while going down into the splits (I guess he was sort of holding his breath before.)

Voila~ He went all the way down on his bad side with no discomfort at all.


But who knows, some kids are just natually more flexible than others. My son has a good dance friend who is way more flexible than he. It may take some time.


Tell your DD to hang in there! :)


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Guest galenaballet

Hi Dancetaxi! :)


What a great idea! I am going to suggest it to her! She loves long hot baths anyway :)


Now did you help to strech your son out or did he just do it on his own? My daughter seems to give up so easily because she gets frustrated.

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I have learned that nagging him about it does no good. I guess I just figured that if it was important enough to him that he would get it, eventually. I didn't physically help him, though. I wouldn't want to injure him or make him tense up his muscles.


I've also learned with him that if he gets frustrated, I leave him alone. Dancers seem to have a keen sense of their bodies, so I figured that he'd get through it eventually. Maybe just throw the suggestion out to her that she stretch after a bath but maybe leave the splits practice to her class time. Maybe ask her teacher for suggestions as well.


Hope this helps :)


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Just a couple of reminders here:


Doing the splits is not important in ballet. Having flexibility is. Therefore, stretching, which is what splits are, is important. And stretching for flexibility MUST be done when the muscles are warm. That means after barre, or after the full class, or yes, after a long hot bath. Doing it cold is NEVER a good idea.


"Mastering" splits is really not a point of focus for a classical dancer. Using them as a stretching exercise, at the right time and the right place, is. Whether you get "all the way down" or not doesn't matter, it's the stretch itself that matters. Eventually they will go down. But it's really not the big deal that kids seem to think it is.

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Another observation -- flexibility (and the ability to do splilts) may improve gradually -- over several years.


I don't think my daughter could do splits when she was nine, but I know she could at twelve.


Going through puberty also puts a damper on improving in this area, I believe.

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Yes, it does. First you get the split right, then all of a sudden the hormones, including growth hormone, strike and things tighten up again. Then you have to stretch out all over again.

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DD has been able to do left and right splits for a few years now. She has never been able to master the center splits. Partly due to a very tight hip flexor. This is no longer the issue but she still can't seem to get down all the way. She is a few inches short. She says one particular side seems tighter than the other. It happens that the tight side is the side she had hip flexor issues. She has no pain, just tightness. She also cannot do the frog on that particular side either. I will admit that my nagging doesn't help. Other girls in the class have no problem and she feels a bit intimidated trying to do them in front of them.

I will suggest the warm bath, or better yet, a long jaccuzzi and then trying. Hopefully this idea will work!

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*knock knock*


I couldn't do a full split until 12 either. It happened after I got my period. My mom said it seemed to happen overnight, after years of struggling.


My body sounds like it looked similar to your daughter's. All arms and legs with narrow hips and shoulders. I've never been super flexible in the hamstrings and hips, but with time and patience I got flexible enough. It was difficult as a kid to relax enough to allow the muscles to release (a stretch needs to be held for at least 30 seconds to start to release). I was just trying to force myself down without really "listening" to the muscles and feeling what they're doing. This helps a lot.

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As the mother of a daughter who has had to work on her flexibility, I can tell you @ 9 she could not possibly think of doing a split left or right. For her it did not really come together well until 13. Unfortunately, she hooked up with someone who was not properly coaching her, and ended up with 2 pulled hamstrings in one year. After lots of physical therapy, and a move to a new school, her flexibility has improved tremedously.


I hesitate to focus on the "split" because as Ms Leigh said the goal is flexibility. Her flexibility is greatly improved, and yes she can do the split to both sides. Please be very careful about trying to help with this without sound guidance from someone who knows what they're doing. Physical therapy is costly in terms of time and money! And, you do not want a chronic hamstring injury to develop out of trying to push this too early.




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