March Madness: Basketball Players Make Great Dancers

Basketball player during March Madness

Gear up for March Madness by learning some ballroom dance moves from instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios to improve your performance on the basketball court.


Ballroom dancing is certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of basketball. It’s hard to picture Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, or Larry Bird dancing the rhumba, cha-cha, or waltz. But, ballroom dancing shares many similarities with the game of basketball, and taking a few dance lessons can help improve your game.


Ballroom dancers learn precise steps and movements for every dance, which is similar to following a playbook. Basketball players know who to pass to because they practice specific plays on a regular basis. Both sports have a number of rules you need to follow, along with a coach leading the charge. The fancy footwork basketball players use to get around their opponents mimics ballroom dance moves. One sports play-by-play specialist dubbed the footwork of basketball player, Kyle Irving of the Boston Celtics, a ballroom dance. The NBA is full of basketball players who are great dancers, including Shaquille O’Neal, who held a dance-off with pop icon Justin Bieber. Other basketball players who have moves on and off the court are Steve Nash, LeBron James, and John Wall.


Many athletes use dancing to help them train and improve their performance. Dance training is a great way for athletes to improve their physical fitness and engage their minds.


  • Quick feet are a requirement for ballroom dancing. Boxers who practice Latin dances that require them to be light on their feet, such as the salsa, can improve their ability to dodge punches.
  • Strengthens Bones. Ballroom dancing can increase bone density and strength, according to the National Institutes of Health. Having strong bones is especially important for athletes at high risk of injury, such as those practicing contact sports like football or hockey.
  • Improves Flexibility. Many ballroom dances require flexibility to perform well. Athletes typically stretch before games and practices, but adding additional stretching to their regular routines can go a long way to helping to prevent muscle strain and injury during a game.


If you still aren’t convinced that basketball players can use ballroom dancing to improve their game, check out these athletes tripping the light fantastic.


In this clip, Charles Oakley and Emma Slater dance the salsa to, “In Da Club” by 50 Cent on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2020. Oakley started his career in the NBA playing for the Chicago Bulls as a power forward. The NBA All-Star played on a number of other teams during his career, including spending 10 years with the New York Knicks.


Check out these NBA players dancing to blow off steam and have fun on and off the court.


Arike Ogunbowale, a female basketball player from Notre Dame, showcased her ballroom dancing skills on “Dancing With the Stars.” She performed an impressive, energetic salsa to “Them Girls” by Whitney Myer, allowing her to showcase the stellar footwork she uses during a game.


If you’re ready to take a page out of the playbook of professional athletes during this year’s March Madness, contact your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios location to schedule a lesson.