Tips for Leading, Too Much Strength

Now, although I’m not very chatty, women keep telling me about their woes.

I have one of those faces apparently. So, the first tip is to do with the most common issues that are just constant in our little world for the women, bearing in mind that most women are followers.

Why is he trying to pull my shoulder out of the socket?

We have all seen and heard about this a lot over the years , for those of you who are new, you will hear about it soon enough.

How it Starts

When we all started and didn’t have the skill set we simply over compensated by using strength to literally drag our partner to where we wanted then to go. This is very easy to do as most of us have height, weight and strength on our side.

It is the first fault of any new dancer and the worst part is you can keep doing this. There is no reason to evolve as a dancer because when it works, why bother doing something else? We learnt the move by force; we didn’t learn it by leading properly.

And because no-one told us to stop doing it, we didn’t. sign-993076__340

Seriously, how many times have you been told by a dance partner you are using too much force? Unless you are right off the deep end, it is probably never. Women, bless them all, will just take the mess we give them and move on without a word, to be fair so do we, but as a lead you can do a lot of damage real fast and when your just starting out and that can be a bad time for the followers.

It’s probably not your fault so calm down, take a breath and consider it like an apprentice. When you are taught a move in most classes of modern jive, how many times can you recall the teacher emphasising the pressure in your grip.

Never, we get told put your hand here, and then stand here, now the hand goes here. Job done ,congratulations on learning a new move; give yourselves a round of applause.

Stop and Think


Now stop for a second and just think about what happened. You got the basis instructions because to be fair, Modern Jive is basic. That’s what it is, the easy stuff from a couple of dance styles in a standard format that is easy to teach.

None of us really know any better as for many of us this is the first dance we learn, unless you are lucky enough to be in a club where the teacher taught various styles before Modern Jive, then the chances are that the tension doesn’t get covered a lot.

Now, you do need to understand that there is a difference between being a heavy lead and the issue mentioned. The focus is on the actual lead, if your pulling someone around you will be holding them completely differently because you are pulling in the wrong way.

That action will generally involve your thumb clamping down while your in motion or your fingers clasped very tightly around your partners fingers. Neither of these are wanted, necessary and both are hindering free movement of your partners hands, wrists and arms, which is where the problems come in.

How to Fix it.

So to sort this out I have thought about a visual to get the message across , and the best I can come up with is a very young child’s little toy truck with a piece of string you use to pull it alone.


If you pull too hard you get a jerky motion where the string loses all tension so you kind of just give it a yank again and again to keep going, eventually you pick it up and swing it about your head.

Or you just flick the string about to make the string do that swiggerly snake thing with the truck staying put doing nothing.

Yet, if you just keep a little tension in the string then the little truck moves smoothly and more importantly you are using very little effort whilst being in complete control of the movement.

Now imagine there was some small hills to play on.

A little tension to get them up and release it as the truck rolls down, you pick up the tension as the truck starts to slow at the bottom and if you catch it right then the motion is seamless.

That, right there is where you should be as a lead. A bit of tension to get the move going with a release of pressure when necessary, and then as the move progresses you pick up the tension again.

All you are there to do is show the path for them to take, you start the move and finish the move, in between there are plenty of moments where both bodies are moving and don’t need assistance so you can ease up your grip.

Test and Re-Test


How do you try this out. Simple, next time you go dancing think about what your doing as you go through the motions. Release you grasp a little, go with sailors grip, just the end of your fingers to hang on with and when you put your partner into a spin make sure your hand is open. They will need your hand for support but if you have given them enough energy in the preparation for the spin they don’t need you to drag them around in circles, just support.

Or in the half nelson where you spin their arm around to go half way up there own back, you don’t need to twist the arm past the very initial first point. Unless they are total newbies they know what is needed and your assistance is not required. So make sure you hands are relaxed and in no way stopping an arm or wrist moving in its own accord.

If you’re really unsure then just have a word with your dance partner. Say to the lovely fun person in front of you that you want to practice a move 3 or 4 times to just get a feel for it and ask their opinions about which time felt best. It will take 20 or 30 seconds and everyone will be honest and let you know which version was the best for them because its better for them to get you leading well.

Follows are desperate for a lead to just give them clear signals.

It is what they are training to do and want more than anything. If you give them a clear lead with the right tension then a lot of things will happen all together.

First, you get a happy person in front of you as they now know you know what your doing which means their life is going to get easier and much more pleasant.youth-570881__340

Secondly, the dance becomes more structured creating a natural flow between lead and follow. You are spending less concentration because you are giving up some of the dance to the follow which gives you time.

Time to help in getting you to move about properly and if your feeling extra lucky you can double check where your about to send your partner so they don’t get trampled on. That earns you bonus karma points.

Time to think about your next move, time to make any small adjustments to match the music. Time to react to any mishaps that will always happen. hourglass-1875812__340

Time, that elusive little bugger, this is where you find it.

And Thirdly, you get to realise you have just improved as a dancer and you are one step closer to being that guy you keep seeing about who makes it look so easy. The one who makes every partner they dance with smile that little smile that clearly indicated that was the dance of the night.

That guy, is going to be you soon.

Knowing the move is only half the job, remember that and you will get keep getting better.

Hopefully this was helpful and informative.

Any comments, please leave below and don’t forget to like and share with your friends.

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