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10 Things You Need to Know About Competition Season

Written By: Toya Renee Ambrose of TRA Choreography, LLC and Jana Blue of Choreography Wire

Simple tips to get you and your team ready for their best season yet!

’Tis the season!

It’s the time where emotions are flying high, practices are intense, and coaches are losing sleep over everything. But does it have to be a stressful time? Nope- it absolutely doesn’t! We chose this life, and we can choose to make it enjoyable. Here are 10 tips to prepare for competition season, and melt the stress away:

GET ORGANIZED. Make a list of deadlines and put them in your calendar. After deciding each of your competitions for the season, you will want to figure out what deadlines you need to keep track of for registration, payment, withdrawal, and other paperwork requirements. Of course, things change so see #2….

ROLL WITH IT. As things occur, breathe and move to plan B (and sometimes C). Injuries happen, grades fall, dancers quit, costumes don’t work, rules change…take it all with a grain of salt and be flexible in all situations.

KEEP A JOURNAL. Phones are cool, but don’t underestimate the power of writing. Keep a tiny journal with you at all times. When inspiration strikes, be ready to write it in your book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned a whole routine concept over a year in advance- all because I was able to write down my thoughts when I got inspired. You will also be able to remember things like costume ideas, motivational ideas for the team, etc.

TRACK. Don’t just run your routine over and over at practice. Count how many marks need, how many full outs, how long they need to warm-up, how long it took before they nailed their performance. It’s up to you what you track, but it helps the next year if you have tangible numbers to work from. You will know exactly what to do. Every season is slightly different, but it helps to understand the culture of your team. **You can also make a leader responsible for tracking.

Jana Blue working with East High School in Denver

LEARN. Use all of the cool resources available now- coaching conferences, online courses, blogs, etc. (email me if you want a list of my favorite resources).

GROW. Push the team past their limits. Make them do all skills after each full out run. Make them do planks or push ups after practice ends. Don’t treat full out runs like a special thing- treat them as a normal part of practice. Let them know that every full out run is one step closer to the last time they’ll ever dance as a team- so each run should help them grow.

CONSISTENCY. Be consistent in your approach. Treat all members and parents as equal, and have a pre-competition season meeting BEFORE choreography. Do alternates swap in? Do they learn all parts? Do they have a chance of getting in the dance? Also have specific injury/illness protocol that you follow if a dancer has to sit out. Do they bring homework? Are they allowed on their phone? Do they even have to come? Be sure that everyone knows the deal and you will eliminate lots of drama as situations arise.

DON’T END ON A SOUR NOTE. Practices should get intense, and they will not always love you. But when things get tough, always close on a positive note. Address elephants in the room head on, but spin it after. Kids have a limited perspective most of the time, so remember that you have to help them understand certain things.

MENTAL PREPARATION. Remember that whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. Prepare your athletes mentally for what is to come. What will they see when they walk into the arena? What should they block out and what should they pay attention to? How will they feel? In Colorado, we have an amazing resource in Passionate Coach with Chelsea Pierotti. Make time for it - you’ll be thankful.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU? As a coach, what are your goals and responsibilities? For example your team should never get a deduction for a technical violation like an illegal trick. It's your responsibility as the coach to ensure what you put on the floor is legal. Do you have a goal for a team trick sequence? A goal to make it to top 5? Perhaps to avoid injuries or bring in a certain choreographer? Knowing these goals prior to executing your plan with your team helps align their own personal goals as dancers so you have "ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM!"

Happy competition season, and don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing!


Toya Ambrose of TRA Choreography

Jana Blue of Choreography Wire

Chelsea Pierotti of Passionate Coach


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