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Chelsea: Okay, dancers! What do you think? Do you need confidence to perform well, or do you need to perform well before you can feel confident about yourself? Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where I talk all about mindset, motivation, and resilience in dance.
Confidence is one of the biggest mental skills dancers are usually working on. Whether we are a new studio dancer or a professional on Broadway, we are always trying to find that confidence boost to control our nerves and put our best foot forward. But how do you get that confidence? Do you have to have a good performance or achieve that skill first before you truly believe it’s possible? Or do you have to believe it before you can achieve it? Let’s talk about the confidence cycle!
[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]
So my opening question today was a bit of a trick question. I thought of it because I recently was working with a group of dancers who were sure that they had to experience some success first in order to truly feel confident. They were ready to do the work but felt they had to wait for success before they could really feel confident.
Confidence is Cyclical – 1:42
I told them what I want to tell you now. Confidence is cyclical. When you feel more confident, you perform better, which increases your confidence. But you can feel confident before you reach competitive success or before you complete that hard skill, and once you do succeed, confidence will follow.
The challenge, though, is this cycle works in reverse too. So think of a clock unwinding and going backwards. If you hold back while you dance and act timid just waiting before you feel confident, you won't perform to your best potential, which likely decreases your confidence because you know it wasn't your best, which makes you hold back and dance even smaller. You can't wait for success to feel confident, or your confidence cycle will spin backwards. The trick as a coach or a teacher is to help dancers experience the positive cycle as often as possible.
Continue Cleaning – 2:39
You don't have to focus on competition or wait for a big performance or a successful audition to build confidence. You don't want to wait for this big end result to finally feel confident. We want to build the confidence first to help fuel it before you even get to the big event. I have a simple solution for you to try. Just keep cleaning your dancers.
Cleaning a dance routine is one of the big jobs of most dance coaches or teachers in a competitive setting. We spend hours perfecting our routines, drilling things over and over again until it feels ready to perform or close. I don't think it’s ever really ready, for most creatives. But that simple ritual of cleaning a routine can also be a great source of confidence if you approach it with that intention. Here’s how it works.
Sense of Accomplishment – 3:31
Science has shown us over and over again that a sense of accomplishment is one of the three sources of confidence in our lives. So even though there are two others, I’m gonna focus on the first because when we feel accomplished we feel more confident, and that’s why we think we have to wait until we have accomplished something big. Usually we think of accomplishment as placing high in a competition or making the college team of your dreams or getting that big audition. And while that’s true you will feel accomplished then, you can help create small doses of accomplishment daily that will add up to the same powerful result so that you go into the big thing already confident. So don't wait.
The confidence cycle presents a big challenge for a lot of coaches. They want their dancers to feel confident when striving for the big goal, but coaches and dancers don't think they’ll feel confident until they’ve reached the goal. Sure, it’s easier to feel confident about your ability to reach your big goal once you’ve already done it, but what if your goal is something you've never done before? If you're trying to get a new skill, tackle a new style, rank higher than you ever have, you can't wait for that success. You have to believe and feel confident in your abilities to do it before you ever actually do it. That’s where the confidence cycle and small daily dose of accomplishment comes in.
Use Cleaning Sessions Intentionally – 4:55
When you're cleaning routines, you're hopefully pushing your dancers to a new level. That’s the whole idea. It should be challenging. Those practices are usually hard, even a little grueling and yet completely rewarding. My advice to you is to use those cleaning sessions intentionally as a way to improve your dancers’ confidence.
When you set out to clean a session, set a clear goal. How far do you want to get? How clean is clean for this time of year? What is your expectation? Tell your dancers about your goal for cleaning that day. Let them know it will be hard. It will probably take X amount of time. But you're ready to push if they are. Hopefully you get some head nods, some “let’s go,” some encouragement from your more vocal dancers and you start cleaning.
As you go, and I’m sure you normally do, you push them to work hard. Push them out of that comfort zone. Push them past where they maybe have even gone before. Then you reward them and praise them when you see a small victory. If you notice a dancer hit a trick she's been missing for weeks, acknowledge it. If you feel like the two eights you just spent an hour on look like a new dance, tell them. Let them see the improvement. Take a quick video when you start and again when you feel like it’s clean to the standards of your goal for the day and show them the improvement of just that hour.
Acknowledging Small Victories – 6:16
Acknowledging their small victories and showing them the accomplishment of the day boosts confidence. If you’ve pushed them in practice, they work harder than they have before, but they see a relatively immediate payoff, they learn a sense of confidence. It gives that simple, “Look what we just did today! I set a goal, I did the work, and I feel accomplished.”
The magic happens when you do this regularly. Push them further than they’ve been, that little extra step, that one percent better. Praise their progress. Show them the small accomplishments. Those small everyday victories add up. Then when it’s time to take on your big goal for the season, it’s much easier for dancers to be confident about that goal. They've already learned that they have what it takes to fight and to expect personal success.
If you keep this confidence cycle going every time you practice with all the little goals and challenges in each day, their confidence will increase accordingly, then when it’s time to tackle the big event, they already have a sense of confidence and belief in the team’s ability to get it done. I hope this confidence cycle is maybe a new way to think about it, and feel free to explain it to your dancers or have them listen into this episode.
So many dancers are under the impression that they won't feel confident until they've reached the top of their own mountain, but there’s no reason to wait. In fact, you’re more likely to successfully reach the top if you believe you can do it while you're still climbing your way up. So share the confidence cycle with your dancers. Work hard, create confidence in your daily routines, and that creates a sense of accomplishment, which comes back to more hard work and more confidence and so on.
As a teacher and a coach, you have a big role to play in helping your dancers break into this positive confidence cycle. As you do that, it will allow you to keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!
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This episode is brought to you by the dance coach membership Relevé, a community for dance coaches on the rise. This community is designed to help you create a team of committed, hard-working dancers that are a pleasure to coach every day. I’ve learned a lot about coaching other coaches over the years, and one thing I know is we need clear action plans that are easy to implement and a support network around us.
So I created the membership to help all the dance coaches out there who want to rise up and make a difference on their team. Head over to www.passionatecoach.com/membership to learn more about how to join us inside this dance coach membership where you will get the support and guidance to find a new level of joy and success in coaching. www.passionatecoach.com/membership.
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