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How to Find Your Personal Best

Updated: Sep 10, 2018

As a dance competitor, it is easy to become so focused on winning that nothing else matters. And as many professional competitive athletes will tell you, focus is important to achieve.

But with such pressure placed on winning, what happens when you don’t? How do you manage that feeling of disappointment or, even worse, failure?

Here at Dance Comp Diaries, we figured it would be best to discuss more important values you can achieve and learn from competing. After all, it isn’t about being the best- in performance, that’s subjective. And with judges having the final say, being the best is out of your control. But finding your ‘personal best’... well that is in your control. Here’s a few tips on how to achieve this, and help you continue to compete with confidence.

1. “Be growth-minded, Not goal-minded.”

Author John C. Maxwell discusses the idea that by focusing on growth rather than goals, the game is never over. Essentially, you will avoid that feeling of disappointment, because you won’t feel disappointment if you lose, and you also won’t feel like the journey is over if you win.

2. Make lists, and set short term, achievable goals-

Goals are important too, but setting large goals can not only be harder to achieve, they might place an ending on your achievements. If you set smaller, achievable goals, they will aid your growth. Growth will help you reach the big goals that are sometimes too daunting to achieve. For example, a large goal might be “I want to développé my leg in 2nd so high that it hits my shoulder”. Instead, try “Today, I am going to hold my développé in 2nd for 5 seconds longer than yesterday, by squeezing my abdominals harder and imagining my hamstring holding my leg there, like a shelf holds books”. Rather than pushing the leg up higher every time you practise with disregard for your technique, you are focusing on the strength required to keep doing what you are already doing and you are doing it better. With every extra 5 seconds you hold it there, the muscles will get stronger. Once this small goal is achieved then you can start a new goal of “Today, I am going to hold my développé in 2nd 3cm higher than last week.” Then go back to your first goal (holding it longer at its new height). With each day of achievement, you are giving yourself attainable goals, that slowly progress and in the end, will surpass your original large goal.

3. Ask for feedback. And this is a hard one kids. Of course, it is nice for our parents and friends to tell us how amazing we are. But the way to reach your personal best is to get as much feedback from as many people as you can. The good and the bad. Why? Well remember what we said about competitions? It comes down to the judges... and they are all different individuals with different ideas of what makes a great performance. Therefore, the more advice and critique you can get, the more you can implement these into your performance. And the more likely you will have worked hard on removing potential flaws from your overall work.

4. Compare your competition result to your previous feedback – Whether you are comparing the competition results to the last competition results, or to the feedback that you got from your teachers and friends, making comparisons in the results can help you monitor your progress. And don’t just compare the numerical score, compare the individual comments too. You could even start your very own ‘competition diary’ that helps you compare these results. Look for individual category scores increasing, and look at the descriptive words used in the comments. Then add these pieces advice into your small goals, and attempt to conquer those by the next competition.

5. Practice - Dance and performance art are lifelong, ever-changing PRACTICAL hobbies, careers and skills. And if you have to perform practically, then you need to practise! The more time you can put aside to practise, the more efficient your goal achieving and continuous growth will be.

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Writer – Stephanie Clark Porter