Episode 85: Confidence Q&A
Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea. Today, I’m gonna answer questions from two of our listeners about confidence. I know many of us are heading into competition season right now, and I’ve been there many, many times. So, tell me, does this sound like you? It is 10:00 PM the night before your first competition, and you are wide awake going over and over every possible way things could go wrong tomorrow, wondering if you’re really ready, your head is swirling with all the things. Even if you feel prepared, there’s still a lot swirling in your brain.
Okay, so now let’s imagine a very different reality. Maybe you get up on competition day and you are pumped and excited but actually not nervous. You know your dancers are ready to crush it today! Just imagine how good it would feel to know you did everything possible to support your dancers and no one is going to be a deer in headlights when they take stage or fall apart today. You’ll be able to just exhale, relax, and enjoy competition day knowing it’s all handled.
That’s truly what I want for all of you. So I put out a call for listeners to send in your questions, and I picked two that I’m gonna answer today. In the spirit of full transparency, I’m also gonna share a little about my audio course, Confident Dancer Formula, because, if you’re listening and a part of this wonderful community, then I know you take your dancers’ mindset seriously and you understand that it could be the thing that makes the difference for your dancers this year.
But, before I tell you about the course, let’s hear from two of our listeners who asked about making sure your new dancers are prepared and making sure we don’t end up with that blank stare, panic look at our first event.
I also want to add, before we dive in, that if you ever want to submit a question, anonymously or not, you can do it at any time. Head to my website, chelseapierotti.com/podcast and you’ll see a link to submit a question. Okay, onto the show, and thank you to our two listeners who submitted today’s questions!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Welcome to The Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and a dance team coach turned sports 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!
First Listener Question – 2:27
“Hi, Chelsea. My question is about dancers who are confident in the studio but turn into deer in headlights at competition when they see other teams. How can you help dancers stay focused when it comes to being on the floor at competition?”
Chelsea’s Response to First Listener Question – 2:41
So, when dancers are confident in your home studio or gym, but they get scared at competition, it’s likely that their thoughts are all over the place. There is just too much going on, and it’s hard to stay focused. So they feel like they're ready but then as soon as they get out on that stage, maybe it’s unfamiliar or they’re not able to be focused and in the moment in what they're trying to do, they will just freeze. It’s a very normal reaction, right? When we’re scared, you maybe have heard of that fight, flight, or freeze response? For many of us, we just freeze. So what we want to do is help make sure that a panic and scared feeling turns into excitement and energy and not standing still in the middle of the stage, especially if the issue is with other teams, right?
If this issue is that your dancers see the other teams around at competition and that heightens their sense of anxiety, it’s really important to have a conversation ahead of time about exactly what that will be like. Just talk through with them, “Yes, you will see other dancers. You might see someone you don't want to see like a dancer who switched studios, an old friend, maybe an old teacher.” That could be a really good thing and you have a wonderful relationship with them, or it might be an old teacher you wish you didn't have to see. But the reality is, you're going to have to run into these people, and for us as teachers, same thing goes for you.
When this happens and you see those other dancers, comparison kicks in. It’s when you're worried about someone else. But when you start watching those dancers warm up or looking at their costumes or watching them rehearse their turns or looking at their flexibility, comparison just gets heightened. But comparison really means you’re just worried about someone else, and when you do that, you're giving them the power. You’re worried about what they think but that’s giving them all of the power in the situation.
So in order to be able to release any distractions, you have to talk about them first. Ask your dancers, “What do you think might distract you while we’re there?” Maybe ask them to make a list together. Maybe it is a specific person or a team. Maybe it’s the dancer’s phone that will be the distraction or maybe it’s their parent. Talk to them how you can intentionally release that distraction, so it doesn't have a hold on you. Do you want to do some intentional deep breaths when you get to the arena? Do you want to write down what will distract you on a piece of paper, bring it in, and then rip it up and throw it away as soon as you walk in? The idea is to intentionally recognize and then release those distractions, so they don't have any control. Remind your dancers of my favorite mantra: the controllables. You can’t control the other competitors so don’t let them control you.
All right, so I hope that helps you think about how your dancers might be confronted with comparison, and one of the most simple days to deal with that is to just pause and think about who am I gonna see, what could be my distraction, what might be the cause of all those swirling thoughts because if you can learn to notice them and say, “Oh, there it is! I knew I was gonna see that team. I knew I was gonna be worried about them. But you know what? I can just let that go. I feel good,” and be able to come back and focus in on you and your own body and your own team and get yourself ready for competition. But I think that intentional notice of the distraction and letting it go can really help you be focused and help, then, prevent that deer-in-headlight and panic look that happens when we’re overwhelmed. So I hope that helped.
Second Listener Question – 6:12
Let’s hear from our second listener.
“Hi, this is Becca from Wisconsin. I’m wondering if you could share a little bit on how to increase confidence in freshmen and new dancers while performing in a new arena and how to best prepare them?”
Chelsea’s Response to Second Listener Question – 6:33
Okay, so I have to say that I love that you’re even asking ‘because we often assume that new dancers will be okay and know what to do. Maybe it’s they're not necessarily new to competition, they're just new to this team or maybe it’s just a new venue but they compete all the time, and we’ll assume they’ll be okay. But, just like that last question when we were talking about staying more focused and getting rid of distractions, it’s even more essential with a new dancer. So you want to truly prepare them for everything you can. Walk them through the exact schedule with all of the details as best you can.
And this may seem like overkill, and I know I definitely didn't have all of this when I was competing, but I started doing it as a coach. Some of it is a generational thing. Some of it is just that expectation, and it really does help relieve a sense of anxiety if you know what to expect.
So I mean every little detail you can:
- What time are you gonna get there?
- What are they wearing?
- Do you change right away?
- Do you have time to change later?
- Do they have time to see their parents?
- When does that happen?
- When is lunch?
- Do they have access to their phone?
- What exactly happens in warmup?
- How much time do you have by yourself with headphones and your own playlist to warm up?
- How much are we doing as a team or a group altogether?
The more you can answer for them the less they’ll worry about it. Again, with the swirling thoughts in your head, you don't want them worried about the wrong things, and you can only hold so much in your brain. So if your new dancer is worried about when she’ll eat lunch or how long he has to change in between routines, your dancers don’t have as much brain space left to think about the actual dance steps and performing. So get all the logistic stuff taken care of so they feel comfortable and, literally, all they have to worry about is themselves and being ready to perform.
You can get even more specific and design a really clear 30-minutes-to-go-time routine, and that varies, but roughly 30 minutes before you take the floor and you have everything planned out, timed, and then you can practice it at home before you get to that first competition. Being able to kind of walk through exactly what to expect and the timing, like how long do you have from warmup to taking the floor? How long do you have in between routines? How long do you have where the team might be backstage waiting to take the floor and the coach is gone 'cause you have to go do music? How long are they alone back there? So get really specific and practice that at home before you go.
Confident Dancer Formula – 9:07
So, if this is helpful, if either of these are kind of sparking some ideas for you but you want some more support to make sure your dancers are mentally prepared for competition, now is a great time to take a look at my self-paced course, Confident Dancer Formula. I don’t spend a lot of time on the podcast talking about the offers and things that you can get from me. I really believe that this can be something that helps make a difference for you right now if you’re getting into competition season. So if you know your dancers need some more help with confidence this year and you want to take that little extra step, then listen in and see if this is a good fit for you because saying most dancers struggle with mindset during competition season would be an understatement. But it’s also not entirely true. What’s really true is most dancers struggle with mindset all season, but then they just hope it’ll be okay when it’s time to take the floor.
Our dancers work so hard in the studio. They do the workouts. They drill and clean and perfect the routines. They do everything they can to be ready for the competition floor. But then one little bobble in the warmup floor, and anxiety rushes in or one glance at the team taking the stage before them, and it all falls apart. There’s maybe tension or there’s intense nervous energy and stress all around. Everyone is maybe nervously shaking their hands or jumping up and down waiting for their name to be called to go on stage. But there’s a difference between being excited and being nervous, and I think many of you probably know what happens if your warmup or a previous routine, even, was a little shaky, now all their confidence is too. Maybe they take that first formation, and you can feel that nervous energy, and you know that they’ve done everything they can to train for this moment, but have they done everything to physically train? There’s a good chance those skills may not hit when the music starts or, more likely what happens, is they rush, they forget something, or they're getting distracted on the floor which causes mistakes, but all of that is more about the mental preparation.
So why do dancers suffer through this at competition where they get the deer in headlights, or they rush too fast, or they make mistakes that you have never seen before in rehearsal? It’s not because they lack passion or commitment. It’s not because they’re lazy. It’s not because you did anything wrong as their teacher. As dance educators, so much about what we do on our day to day is about cleaning and drilling those jumps and turns and running it over and over, so formations are perfect, and the turn sequence is on point. But that’s the physical execution which is only half the battle. Dancers’ mindset is the key to that flawless performance you’re hoping for. It’s not something you think about the day before competition either. It’s not something you haphazardly string together in your spare time during class because we don't have any of that.
Training your mindset is most definitely something you don’t want to just figure out as you go. To get it right, it takes planning, commitment, and some focused execution and the right steps to make it happen. But, most importantly, because you're probably juggling your coaching duties with a zillion other daily things to do, it requires that you get this right the first time. You don't have any extra time. I get that. But it requires 100% confidence that every action you take isn’t wasted. We don't have time to do things again. I know you don't have time to take a whole long semester college course worth of information in order to learn this stuff. We need a quick implementation program with short, digestible lessons that you can take action on right away.
So that’s where the Confident Dancer Formula comes in. The Confident Dancer Formula isn’t so much an “online course,” like many other things. It’s a quick project implementation plan. It’s one that doesn’t take your time for granted and gets to the point, meaning you get to do what you do best: coach with confidence knowing that every action you take is bringing you closer to that team of confident dancers that are ready for anything. So that’s the opportunity I invite you to seize and look into right now. To finally show your dancers how to control their mindset and ensure their hard work pays off with a routine they are proud of.
So here’s the program that makes it happen. It’s a short one-hour total course. It’s broken up into six small lessons that you can process quickly. And, because I know you’re multi-taskers, it’s an audio course which means you can listen on a private podcast feed while you drive to practice or do the dishes tonight. I have the transcripts for you too, so it’s all written down and easy to refer back.
Confident Dancer Formula Bonus Opportunity – 13:31
And for those who are listening when this episode goes live, I have a bonus opportunity for you. If you purchase by the end of the day on Monday, November 7th, 2022, you can upgrade your course to include two live Q&A sessions with me in November, and we can talk through all of your questions and make sure you are ready to implement everything with your dancers and your specific situations.
So, if you’re ready, let’s start building those confident dancers. You can go to chelseapierotti.com/courses or click the link in the show notes to check it out. If you’re listening to this after the live coaching is over, still go check it out and see if that course is available. It’s wonderful on its own, I just wanted to add a little boost of that live connection right now as we’re getting ready to kick off the season.
This course will help you:
- Know how to talk about competition goals with your dancers
- Boost your dancers’ confidence leading up to competition
- Practice tips to be mentally prepared for anything, come competition day
- Learn how to warm up at competition while staying confident
- Talk to your dancers about the outcome after the competition so they’re still mentally tough the next time you compete
All it takes is integrating mental skills into the work you’re already doing. No more competition stress and chaos! Let’s get you mentally prepared so you and your dancers can feel calm and confident walking into that competition venue.
I designed this quick course because I know you’re busy right now. I also know you want to give your dancers the best and make sure they’re confident and ready to go. So you can go to chelseapierotti.com/courses and you can always send me a DM on Instagram if that’s easiest. I’ll send you the link.
As always, I want to help us all focus on the fun and the joy of performing, not just the ranking that comes at the end. The best way to do that is to take the floor with confidence so you can execute that “no regrets” performance that we all want. So cheers to more of those routines where you walk off knowing you did your absolute best. Thanks for listening in today and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.
[Motivational Outro Music]