We’ve all experienced those dance practices that end and it seems as if nothing has been accomplished or, equally awful, those practices where you leave more frustrated than when you entered. Here are some tips to guide your dance practice and hopefully leave you with a sense of satisfaction.
- Do set goals. While this may seem obvious, determining what you want to be able to do determines what you will do in your practice time. Keep in mind that ballroom is a partner sport. Of course, you should set some personal goals for yourself! You and your partner might have different weaknesses. Remember, however, that you are a team and you ought to set some goals together. This can include not only the focus(es) of the practice but also the amount of time spent on each element. For more on goal setting see The Art of Goal Setting.
- Use repetition. Practice is for muscle memory. Every time you slowly go through the footwork for a cross-over break or repeat your reverse turn, you strengthen those neural pathways. Eventually, you don’t need to pour as much attention into the position of your foot or the body, it becomes natural.
- Take notes. You are introduced to so much new information every day. Note-taking not only lets you easily revisit information learned in practice or lesson at a later date but also allows you to process the information in a different way than you might on the floor.
- Video! Your coach, if you’re fortunate enough to have who can inexpensively be there for practices, can’t see everything. It’s part of that whole human component. Also importantly, you and your partner can’t see everything. Take advantage of technology and video portions of your practices and competitions. You can later review at a more leisurely pace.
- Communicate. Ballroom is a partner sport so remember to talk with your partner. What went well or could use some work during your last dance? Keep your coach in the loop as well. After all, they are there to help you improve and provide an eye outside your partnership.
- Shake it up. Routine is wonderful but every once in a while it’s nice to get a breath of fresh air. Drag an old exercise out of the closet. Try a blindfolded practice. Dance a rumba to a VW. Switch up your practice locale. A deviation from the usual might reveal some new things that your partnership can work on.
- End on a good note. It’s no fun to leave a practice feeling dejected. After an intense practice, try ending with routine that makes you feel like a rockstar. Do an exercise that makes you laugh or have a fun dance.
Lastly, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a fabulous ballroom dancer. Dance takes work and focus. Not every practice will leave you flying high but hopefully through goals, communication, notes, exercises, and video, over time you will feel more accomplished. Best wishes on your practice endeavors! Got some productive practice tips? Share them with us in the comments below!