Is Your Head Getting In the Way of Your Performances?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you competing at the level that you’re capable of? Do you regularly perform better in practice than you do in important competitions? Are there particular opponents who consistently intimidate you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from performing to your potential.
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of your sport is. If you want to take your dance performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to take your training far beyond where most dancers stop. Most serious athletes in dance religiously work on the physical part of their sport. They’ll work on their strength, fitness and proper technique. Is this stuff important? You betcha! You can’t become successful without “paying your physical dues” in this way. Hard work is definitely one of the main keys to your dance success. Without it, you’ll quickly fall behind.
Unfortunately, this is where most dancers stop. When they go into their competitions, they hope they’ll perform well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll win. You would never leave your strength, conditioning or technique to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your dance performance, the mental part to chance?
Think about this: Getting good as a dancer in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your conditioning and physical technique to make it happen. However, once you get up on that stage and it REALLY counts, the percentages flip flop. Being successful is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning and technique and now you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself focused on the right things. For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, totally and completely absorbed in the music. If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about a more difficult part of your routine or what your score will be) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous mistake or past failure), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your potential. This means that you have to be able to rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them into the next dance or routine.
You have to believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to focus on yourself and not your opponents when you’re under pressure. You have to be able to handle last minute negativity and self-doubts. You have to be able to master your fears.
With a little work, these mental skills as well as a few important others can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough competitor. My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for Dancers (ON SALE NOW!) will take you to the next level!
Are you struggling with performance anxiety or a slump? Do you consistently perform better in practice than when it counts?
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement. As a Sports Performance consultant, Dr. G works with athletes across all sports at every level helping them develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. As a regular columnist for a number of national and international publications including Irish Dance & Culture Magazine, Swimming World, Collegiate Baseball, International Gymnast, The National Soccer Journal, etc. Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performance training and mental toughness. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports." Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Dancers- Special Savings.