wikiHow to Improve Ballet Turnout

Two Parts:Assessing Your TurnoutStretching to Improve Turnout

Correct turnout sets the stage for most of ballet's beautiful movement. But, poor or incorrect turnout can limit your range of movement and lead to knee problems. Simply put, turnout is the basis for the first position, where your legs move to turn your feet out and away from your body. Since this movement shouldn't come from your knees, it's important to strengthen the muscles in your hips which create good turnout.

Part 1
Assessing Your Turnout

  1. 1
    Find a professional. Since incorrect turnout can damage muscles and lead to knee problems, it's important that you work on your turnout with a professional ballet dancer. Try to find a pre-professional ballet school that is associated with a professional ballet company. This way, an instructor can give you individual attention, helping you achieve the perfect turnout.
    • Since the muscles of young ballet dancers are still developing, it's easier to improve flexibility when you're young (before age 12).[1]
  2. 2
    Get ready to turnout. Before you turnout, stand in front of a mirror with your feet touching and facing forward in a parallel position. Keep your muscles flexible and make sure your tailbone is pointed down, not pushed out and back.[2] Stand firmly on your feet.
    • If you're too tense when you begin to turnout, you're more likely to cause muscle strain and injury.[3] Spend at least 10 minutes stretching your leg and hip muscles before dancing.
  3. 3
    Get in position. Once you're in the correct position, lift your toes up and away from each other (in opposite 90 degree angles). It is critical that you do not simply twist your feet away by using your knees and lower legs. Instead, shift your weight to your hips so that your feet naturally move apart. Make sure you're not putting all your weight on your big toes, instead of distributing it throughout your feet.
    • The ideal turnout is 180 degrees. Don't worry if you can't turnout that much. Stretching can improve your flexibility by a few degrees. Good turnout also means that you're honest about what your natural turnout is and don't try to force it.[4]
    • Make sure your weight is evenly distributed throughout your foot. Poor turnout puts strain on just your big toes and rolls your feet in. Instead, your feet should be level with the ground.
  4. 4
    Avoid forcing your turnout. While it may seem easy to use your knees in order to spread your feet farther apart, do not do it. This will strain your knees and legs. Research shows that this causes poor alignment and can lead to injury.[5] Turnout should feel like a natural stance. You shouldn't feel any strain in holding it while in any position. If you continue to practice poor turnout, you'll begin to feel knee pain and muscle ache.
    • It's easiest to force your feet when you're in the 5th position.[6] But, you should always be on guard against improperly rotating out your feet.

Part 2
Stretching to Improve Turnout

  1. 1
    Practice the frog. Lay on your stomach while resting on your elbows and forearms. Move your feet together. The knees should be pointing out so that you make a diamond. Your feet should be touching and remain on the floor. Breathe and hold the position for 3 to 6 breaths. Do as many reps as you comfortable can. The frog stretch can open your hips, groin and inner thigh muscles.[7]
    • To properly stretch your muscles, keep your bottom on the floor (not raised up in the air).
  2. 2
    Do the butterfly. Sit on the floor and place your feet together so that your ankles rotate out in a diamond shape. Hold your feet with your hands and sit up straight. Try to bring your ankles down to the ground so that your hip opens up.[8] Hold the pose for 30 seconds at a time and repeat it as often as you feel comfortable. The butterfly stretch can improve the muscles of your hips, groin, and inner thigh which can all make you more flexible.[9]
    • It may help to have someone slowly push down on your knees for maximum flexibility.
  3. 3
    Do a lunge stretch. Kneel and set a pillow under one of your knees. Keep both of your legs turned in and lunge forward with the knee that doesn't have the pillow under it. Lunge until your knee makes a 90 degree angle and rest your hands on your knee. Keep pushing till you feel a slight stretch and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. Then do it with the opposite knee.[10]
    • You should keep your hips level and make sure your tailbone doesn't stick out. Your back should be straight.
    • Lunge stretches can improve your hip rotation, making turnouts easier.
  4. 4
    Do the bridge stretch with an elastic band. Lay on your back and keep your knees together and bent. Wrap an elastic band (like a theraband) around your thighs. Slowly lift your pelvis and back up so that they align with your wrapped thighs. Slowly bring your spine back to the ground.[11] This stretch can strengthen your hamstrings, back, and bottom.[12]
    • You can also do this with one leg crossed over the other, so that one thigh rests on the other. This will challenge you to keep your pelvis aligned with your thighs.
  5. 5
    Stretch on your side with an elastic band. Lay on your side so that your knees are bent and one rests on the other. Rest an elbow on the ground so you can sit up a bit. Wrap an elastic band (like a theraband) around your mid-thigh. Rotate your top leg out and in, 10 to 15 times. Repeat this with the other leg until the leg muscles feel relaxed.[13]
    • Avoid doing this stretch too many times or you could injure your muscles.
  6. 6
    Keep practicing. Stretching can improve your turnout, but it will take time. Stretch and practice your turnout every day. This can gradually help your muscles loosen and stretch more, giving you a bigger turnout. While it's best to start young, regular practice can still improve your flexibility.
    • The American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum says that stretches like the lunge stretch can improve your turnout by a few degrees.[14]


  • Something that helps you see your improvement is by putting a small sticker on the inside of your thighs and calf muscles. Look at yourself in the mirror and practice wrapping your muscles around. Eventually, you will be able to see the stickers on your legs!

Article Info

Categories: Ballet | Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility