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What Unique Talent Did RB Darrin Reaves Pick Up to Prepare For Season?

Dance may be in Reaves’ future


It is a sport that could be considered one of the most difficult, as it focuses on flexibility, strength, precision and body control.

No, we're not talking about football. We're talking about ballet, and one Kansas City Chiefs player used it this offseason to improve his game.

Darrin Reaves, the 5-foot-10, 209-pound running back who spent last year on the practice squad, was dressed in full game-day uniform when he recently walked into "Alabama Ballet," a premier dance company in Birmingham that's been around for more than three decades.

While Reaves didn't necessarily plan to take a lesson when he arrived that day, he found himself struggling to keep his balance at 180 degrees when he gave it a try, and that's obviously something that is pretty important in ballet.

Reaves initially attended the renowned studio for a photoshoot to introduce the art form to a broader audience through football, but he soon found himself intrigued and wanted to try it himself.

"The most challenging part was learning how to plié. Trying to get my feet on a 180-degree turn. That's ankle flexibility," Reaves said. "Flexibility creates longevity."

Apprentice dancer Carolina Marques of the ballet institute taught the photoshoot-turned-lesson and it quickly sparked an interest in the running back.

"I admire sports of all facets. I know when you watch ballet, it's a beauty in the sport because of how they're able to manipulate their bodies," Reaves said. "We got into the photoshoot, and I said, 'Hey, I want to try to do some of this stuff."

Having its place in football, the art form is known as one of the most complex forms of dance and its finite technique and skill translates onto the football field.

"It was my first time trying ballet," Reaves said. "I liked it was because it was more of a challenge than I thought it was. I was like hey, I work out every day. I stretch. I can do all that."

The same elements, such as body control, flexibility and explosiveness that are coached to those on the highest level of football, are also practiced through ballet.

"Seeing the how she could contort her body while in the air and have such control, it really was a testament to how athletic ballet dancers are."

Used as a form of cross-training, ballet can help improve a player's performance on the football field. NFL greats such as Herschel Walker and Lynn Swann have also attributed the dance to their success on the field.

Other benefits of ballet that carry over to the field include flexibility to avoid tackles, reduction of injuries, the strengthening of legs and balance improvement.

The jumps, turns and poses in ballet make it easier for players to make leaping catches without losing their footing.

"You may think it's weird, but I'm trying to be more graceful on the field," Reaves added. "That's what ballet is. I noticed when Carolina was just standing there, she was always graceful in all her pictures and in her actions. So trying to be more graceful and trying to have control of my body."

With the upcoming NFL season just weeks away, Reaves anticipates returning to ballet in the near future but next time, it will be alongside some familiar Kansas City faces.

"I'm going to definitely do more ballet next offseason. I'm going to get some of my teammates out there with me. Probably Spencer (Ware) and Charcandrick (West). Some of the running backs will be good at it."

As far as the teammate he thinks could master the art? None other than Tamba Hali.

"I think Tamba would be the best; he's got a lot of explosiveness."

For more information on the Darrin Reaves Foundation, visit 

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