Forum: Irish / Irish - Technique & Training

How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By FeisForFoodmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Dec 06, 2008 08:54 PM

luv_2_jig and I have some new reel steps that involve a lot of really fast kicking. These are high kicks that are expected to be over our heads, but the steps allow very little time for the leg to go all the way up and then come all the way down and land neatly. I know we have repeat threads for being high on your toes, turning out feet, improving leaps...but I have never seen one about faster kicks. I guess I'm looking for an exercise or drill to help out with that. Something other than just doing it over and over again (which I know is a useful technique and I'm using it, just looking for additional help).

Any ideas?

8 Replies to How can I make my high kicks really fast?

re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By CelticAngel
On Sat Dec 06, 2008 09:52 PM
Edited by CelticAngel (104726) on 2008-12-06 21:55:40
We expect our legs to reach many positions that they would not naturally be able to. This is why we, as dancers, should all be taught the importance of stretching from a young age. You talked about needing high kicks to head height, which is an achieveable goal with some extra attention to stretching the right muscles.

1. Tightness in your quadriceps muscles (front of thigh) will create resistance on the downward motion of your kick.

This website: . . .
has some good info and stretches.

2. Tighness in your hamstrings (back of thigh) would be more problematic in a high kick as they will prevent you reaching that "head height" and is also more common that tight quads.

Here . . .
are some simple stretches (ones you probably already do!)

Feeling more flexible will allow you to work on speed in these kicks without battling against resistance!


The force that is required to
1. push your leg up and
2. pull your leg back down,
require strength in 2 different sets of muscles.

1. Quadriceps at the front of your thigh
2. Hamstrings at the back of your thigh

Therefore a good starting point would be to target these muscles and build strength, inevitabley increasing the force with which you can perform the movements and the speed at which they're completed.

This website: . . .
has some good exerecises with descriptions and pictures (alothough they are aimed at someone with an injured knee, doing exercises like these on both legs is just as beneficial to someone with healthy knees, to both increase strength and prevent knee injuries)


Also practicing these fast kicks in the pool would be beneficial as the water provides resistance and takes the pressure off your other joints.


***I am not a professional in this area, and want to stress that this information is based only on my research, some uni study, personal experience and personal judgement. All advice should be taken with a grain of salt and care should be taken when doing any and all exercises and stretches to avoid injury. Please consult you TC or physiotherapist if you have any concerns.***

Best of luck to you both with your new reel and the new challenges it brings :)

re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By FeisForFoodmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Dec 07, 2008 09:33 AM
Thanks! Flexibility isn't so much an issue, because I can kick the required height in steps that give me enough time (I know that keeping up the flexibility will help with speed anyway because the kick will just come more naturally). I'm checking out the Alberta website with the exercises right now. :)
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By mo925206
On Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:30 AM
To get them high you first off must have the flexibility. Stretching them everyday is the key. Your muscles have memory and must be trained to be loose. My best advice for speed is dancing to a fast beg. reel or treble reel. Even use some fun music from performances. I have had many dancers dance to fast music a few times then regular speed. You will notice a difference and not only with kicks but sharpness. Its ALL about speed every move. I Also have dancers kick up down up down in the spot as many times as they can in 20-30 seconds. This will also help! Don't wear out youre hip flexors too much but, doing this when practicing (few times a week) and you will notice a difference.
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By seanmharcailinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:37 PM
my favorite exercise works the tops of your legs.

Sit down on the ground with your feet straight out in front of you. (lean on your hands a ltitle bit). Than cross your legs as if you were standing on your toes dancing. Point your toes, turnout, everything. Than you want to lift your top leg about 1 foot off the round. Slowly lower ALMOST back to the start. Repeat. Do 15 of these slow leg lifts, then do 15 at double time. THan switch legs and repeat on the left leg. Then do the exercise again, but do 20 reps of slow and 20 reps of fast of each leg.

Do these every day (i mean it) and try to sit up straighter, and move your leg a bit farther/faster. Eventually you'll be able to do the exercise with your arms out to the side (great for core) and lifting your foot over your head.
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By Pontei
On Sat Jan 03, 2009 05:18 PM
This is from martial arts, but worth a shot. . . .
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By DruidButterfly
On Sat Jan 03, 2009 06:00 PM
I've never tried to apply this to Irish Dance, but I was on a Drill Team known for their kick dances.... and one of the things we always told our girls was to concentrate on the way down. Like you, we already had the flexibility. A lot of people concentrate on the snap up, but in order to keep on the beat... don't let your leg just float down (haha. I think that makes since.) Think of snapping it down faster than gravity will just pull it. Good luck!
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jan 03, 2009 07:58 PM
You also need a good solid core. The muscles that pull your leg up and down quickly are attached to your pelvis. Your pelvis needs to be rock solid so they can pull quickly. Rock solid pelvis means strong abdominal and back muscles.

You don't want the energy you put into pulling your leg up to pull your pelvis tilt forwards some, you will lose speed and control. Did that make sense? If it doesn't, I can try to explain it further.
re: How can I make my high kicks really fast?
By JaySA
On Wed Jan 07, 2009 07:52 AM
I had exactly the same problem. I overcame it by exercising the abdominal and bum muscles. The abdominal muscles help you lift off the ground.. Have you watched the Irish Dance Fitness Plan?
I don't really know how to explain the exercises.. But exercise those muscles...


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