Ep. 127 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 127 Transcript

Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where, today, I’m gonna take a deeper dive into motivation. Helping your dancers find the drive to work hard in class is a constant struggle for a lot of us. I think we all want to help our dancers show up and work hard every day and teach them to keep fighting when it gets hard. There are a lot of ways you can motivate your dancers, but today I’m gonna talk about one specific idea you can use to help motivate your athletes. It boils down to making them feel capable. I’ve got lots of ways you can do that in your next class! _______ [Motivational Intro Music] Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this! [Motivational Intro Music] _______   Three Basic Psychological Human Needs – 1:10Before I get to specific motivational tools, I need to back up and explain where these ideas are coming from. We all have three basic psychological needs as humans. If we’re going to be self-motivated and strive for personal excellence, we have three needs that have to be fulfilled first. The first is the need for autonomy or a sense of control in our lives. We are more motivated to be our best when we have a sense of choice and control over our actions every day. Second is a need for relatedness or connection to those around us. When we feel like we belong, we’re more motivated to work hard. The third basic need is a need for competence or to feel like we’re actually capable of what’s being asked of us. That need to feel capable is what I’m gonna focus on today. The Need to Feel Capable – 2:00Think about your own motivation for a minute. If you were about to take on something new and scary but you believe you're really capable, you’re more likely to give it a try. If you don't believe you can do it, it’s really hard to find the motivation to even start. Most of us shy away from trying something new when we don't feel capable of doing it. We have that sense of, “Ugh, why bother?” Every athlete has a need to perceive their dancing as effective. We need to know that our hard work is doing something, that we are capable of performing that skill or combination. This need to feel capable can be skill specific or more broad in just your ability to connect and communicate through dance. For example, a dancer has a need to feel competent in his ability to complete the turn section in a jazz routine. If he feels competent, it’s that sense of, “I can do this! I can show that I know how to turn. I feel good about it.” He’s more likely to work on that skill and then perform it well. It could also be a dancer’s need to feel capable performing the complicated footwork required in a hip-hop routine. Or it could be the more general sense that you are capable of mastering the style from a new choreographer. If you feel capable, not necessarily that you can do it perfectly but capable of trying and working on it, you're more motivated to practice. So, as dance teachers, if we want dancers to go for it in class and try new things and take risks, we have to help them believe it’s possible. Five Ways to Help Your Dancers to Believe They Are Capable – 3:37So how do you get your dancers to believe they are capable? Especially if we’re trying to help them take on a daunting challenge or learn something new, that can be a big hill to climb. In this instance, a little competition can be helpful to improve dancers’ competence, but not just competing against other people. Consider the broader idea. If you're winning, you usually feel capable. So we can help our dancers have a sense of accomplishment and win more, but again, I don't just mean beating other people. We want to help our dancers compete against the skill, compete against themselves, and compete against others. That might be a shift in how you think about training. So let me give you some concrete examples. We want to help our dancers have small wins and build their sense of accomplishment. That won't always happen onstage or at a competition. We can create that feeling of accomplishment in class. Here are five ways you can help your dancers feel more capable in class, so they are more motivated to work harder. One: Set Goals That Optimally Challenge Your Athletes – 4:41I talked a lot about goals recently in episodes 123 through 125, but good goals help dancers know they're capable of more because they see the growth. Goals help us see the progress so you notice you're getting better, and you will feel more capable of getting that skill you’ve been working on for months. Here’s an important part of this though. Goals should be realistic and achievable and both individualized and group focused. If goals are too easy, they actually hurt motivation, so we have to be careful. I know it’s a trend sometimes, but when we only have dancers compete against other dancers at a lower level just so they win, the dancers who win easily are actually likely to lose motivation. It’s not a confidence boost if they win without trying very hard. It’s encouraging them to stay complacent. If you want your dancers to actually feel a sense of true accomplishment, you want a goal that’s realistic but challenging so there is that real sense of, “I did this! I made it happen.” You can go to the extreme on the other way too. So be careful the goals aren't too hard and unrealistic. It’s like the Goldilocks principles of goals: not too hard, not too easy. Once you have a good goal, you can give dancers good feedback as they work towards that goal. They have to get feedback specific to that goal, so they know how it’s going and include some sort of system for checking in and monitoring improvement. Remember the focus is to help dancers feel more capable. So if a dancer can recognize their own improvement, they’ll see an increase in confidence. It’s that sense of, “Okay, I’m getting there. I got this.” That boost in competence will increase the motivation to work hard in class. There are some dancers I was working with recently who set a goal to have everyone achieve a certain skill within a month, and they decided to send in videos, progress checks, on those skills weekly. Then they were able to kind of see that growth over the course of the month. When I checked in with them a month later, so many of them had not only achieved their skills but they were working harder in practice because they saw the small amounts of growth every week, they were motivated to see the improvements by the rest of their teammates, and there was not only the sense of actual improvement like they really did get the skills, but they were seeing a boost in motivation and excitement, and I think a lot of that comes from that sense of competence like, “I am capable of doing this, so I’m going to fight for it.” So set those realistic goals so they can see the progress on the way to that bigger goal. Two: Ensure Your Skill-Building Drills are Meaningful and Athletes Understand their Purpose – 7:34So, say you introduce a new skill for improving jumps, for example, or an across-the-floor combo that works on weight transfers, make sure your athletes know what the drill is for, that way when they are exhausted or frustrated with the repetitiveness of it, they're more likely to push through and encourage each other because they understand the importance and desired outcome of that drill. Across-the-floor progressions or ballet-barre fundamentals don't have to be boring. If they know what they're building towards, it helps dancers find that motivation. Feeling good at those fundamentals can help a dancer feel capable of the smaller steps that make the more complicated steps feel possible when they're able to put it together into a routine or a harder skill. Here’s a ballet example. Dancers may hate it when you make them hold an arabesque forever in a slow adagio, but if they understand the progression (that it will improve the back leg in their jumps, among many other things), it can help increase their sense of competence. “If I can do the slow adagio, I will have the control to do that big skill I’ve been working on.” It’s training the, “If I can do this, then I can do that.” Dancers often want to skip right to training the hard skill. I think many of us have taught those classes where the dancers just want to do the new crazy trick that they're seeing on social media. But when they can’t yet do that skill, they often lack confidence to even try once or to try again if they tried once and failed. So we build confidence in the lower-level progressions while making sure they know what it’s building to, because if they don't make the connection to what it’s working towards, it won't work to increase their sense of capability. So you work on the fundamentals, making sure they know what it’s building towards, and point out where it’s going well so they see the improvements. Three: Encourage Athletes to Try new Things and Support Their Creativity – 9:33Allow them time to play around during practice every once in a while and try new skills or improv or experiment with their own choreography. You may have already found the joy and effectiveness of improv and creative time, but I’m here to say it actually helps motivation too, not just creativity. Again, it’s about feeling capable. Sometimes when you’ve been training in a style that feels foreign or working on a specific skill that you can't get, going back to just moving in a way that is free and fun for you reminds you that you are, in fact, a capable dancer. So allow for more of that free time and creativity and letting dancers feel capable in the style that is most comfortable with them. Four: Giving Good Feedback in Class – 10:20This goes a long way to improve motivation. Specifically in this context of feeling more capable, you want to provide feedback to your athletes in an appropriate and timely fashion. Giving feedback in the moment or just after the combo before trying it again helps a lot. Make sure you focus on positive reinforcement and progress, not just the outcome. We don't want to only celebrate once they achieve a skill but encourage them when you see growth or when you see the effort. Encourage the hard work. Highlight the effort. Remind them they are capable. Oftentimes, teachers need to believe in them before they’ll catch on themselves. So communicate that to your dancers. Five: Ensure Your Dancers Know it’s Okay to Make Mistakes – 11:05One of my favorite class examples is that it’s a tradition for many dancers in studios I’ve been to all over that we clap when someone falls. I honestly am not sure where this started from. That’s something I should go look at. But it helps dancers understand when they're in class, you're trying to improve your skills. Sometimes you fall, literally and figuratively, but if you know it’s okay to make a mistake, you stay more motivated to keep trying until you're able to master that new skill. Feeling capable isn't just about being able to complete the hard skill, it’s believing you’re capable of learning. We’re trying to build the belief that you are capable of trying something new, failing, learning from it, and trying again and working until you get it. We want to encourage dancers to go full out, make a mistake, learn from it and feel capable of doing it again and again and again until they get it right. It’s not always about feeling confident in your ability to do it right, it’s confident in your ability to learn. Many dancers today don't feel very capable and spend a lot of class time comparing themselves to other people or being afraid of failure, so they hold back. That looks like a lack of motivation in class, or they look like lazy dancers in rehearsals, but it could actually be that they don't feel capable. Are they really being lazy or are they afraid of failure and don't want anyone to see if they can't do it. As educators, we have a lot of power to create a safe environment for learning, and if we can help our dancers feel capable, they will find more internal drive and motivation to keep working. That’s my deep dive into one type of motivation. If you’d like to hear more episodes like this or have a topic in mind, you can reach out anytime and leave me a voice note at www.chelseapierotti.com/message. The link is in the show notes below as well. Thank you for being here. Thank you for creating a safe place in your classes for the next generation of dancers, and, of course, keep sharing your passion for dance with the world! [Motivational Outro Music]  

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