THE MENTAL GAME
Our dancers work hard! Why is it that some dancers struggle to dance their best at Shows & Competitions? Mistakes, low energy, and bad habits we haven’t seen before creep out! It’s frustrating to parents, teachers, and the child.
Performing at shows and at competitions is 100% a Mental Game. Students need to practice their mental game as often as they practice their dancing. Here are our recommendations.
BREATHING. We teach our dancers special breathing techniques. A calm mind is a powerful mind. In contrast, a racing mind produces panic & deprives dancers of their ability to think, breath, and perform their best. Breathing brings the brain to a state of calm. Here’s how:
Breathe in deeply through the nose for 5 seconds.
Hold for 1 second.
SIGH out of the mouth for 8 seconds.
(Do not blow the air out with tight lips—this will make you lightheaded.)
Repeat 10 times, or as needed until dancer is focused and calm.
POSITIVE SELF TALK. Our dancers are encouraged to maintain a positive internal dialog and a go-to MANTRA they can repeat when they are feeling discouraged. No “Negative Nellies” allowed! How many adults struggle with the “I’m not good enough” self-doubts? Please encourage your dancers to share their Mantra with you & use them daily.
We also ask parents NOT to talk about their own bodies or their children’s bodies in their presence. One of the BEST things about Irish dance is that there is no “ideal” body type. World Champions are all shapes and sizes. Encourage your child to celebrate their strong legs, focus on their posture, and maintain a positive self-image.
VISUALIZATION. Ask any Olympic gold medalist what helped them most in their training, and they will tell you it is was their ability to visualize success! We encourage dancers to visualize themselves on stage at their next event.
Imagine their hair, costume and shoes look perfect. Visualize walking on stage with confidence. Most importantly, visualize dancing their entire dance to the music, focusing on every single element of their dance being perfect, dancing their best & ending strong! Not only does this reinforce their memory of the details they need to fix, but it helps them walk on stage with confidence because they have already seen their success!
FOCUS. On competition day, remove distractions & worries. Practice ONLY elements the dancers feels confident about. Now is NOT the time to work on that part you sometimes mess up! Dancers should wear headphones/earbuds & listen to their dance music or music that pumps them up. Use the Breathing Technique alone or with dance friends. If watching dancers in their competition brings nerves, they have been instructed to turn their back to the stage and focus on the music and their visualization. If watching their competition pumps them up, they have been told to watch and remind themselves “I can do that! I’ve got this!” Parents: Do your part. STAY CALM & POSITIVE. Remind them how awesome they are!