Is Your Head Getting In the Way of Your Performances?
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.
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 dance better in practice than you do in important performances? Are there particular situations that 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 dancers religiously work on the physical. 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.
Concentration is THE key to your dancing excellence!
- You need to keep your pre and during performance focus on what YOU are doing.
- Focusing on how good the other dancers are or what others may think of you will make you nervous.
- Be aware of when your focus drifts to others and quickly bring yourself back.
- Be prepared to “reset” your focus as many times as your drift.
- Train yourself to stay focused in the performance, in the present, one step at a time.
- When your focus drifts ahead to the future (placing) or back to a mistake, immediately “reset.”
- Develop this skill by working on it in class every chance you get.
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 give a great performance. 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 to make sure that you stay calm under pressure, keep yourself focused on the right things, quickly let go of mistakes or slip-ups and manage last minute negative thinking and doubts.
Developing good concentration skills will help you believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to perform your best when you’re under pressure on stage. These focusing skills will also help you manage the last-minute negativity and self-doubts that are so common to big performances.
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 dancer.
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement. As a Sports Performance consultant, Dr. G works with dancers around the world. As a columnist for a number of national and international publications including Irish Dance & Culture Magazine, Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performance training and mental toughness. He is the author of the revolutionary book, This Is Your Brain On Sports. Be sure to check out his popular Mental Toughness Training Package.
Coach G, Thanks for the cds! I absolutely love the content. You have helped open my kids' eyes and I have seen the difference immediately in their smiles and improved performance on stage. What a gift!
My daughter used to get far too nervous before her performances and would fall apart on stage. Her teacher and I know that she's much more talented than this. Since your program, she's much more relaxed and confident and is now dancing great!
My two girls who dance competitively have struggled with the frustration of doing so much better in class than they do onstage. Now the difference in their competitions is remarkable!
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