Here is what you will need to know, to help you decide if comp training is for you?
1- Comp training is not your everyday pole practice.
If you thought jumping onto your home pole every day or so, and practising your least favourite moves takes discipline then understand that comp training will take you to whole other level of pushing yourself!
Comp training involves drilling sections of your routine over and over to iron out any problems, until you can put it all together, and then drilling that over and over. Errrryday! Even when you don’t feel like it, even when you feel like a may have a cold, even when bad news has happened, even when you have a hangover. You have a deadline. The audience, and the judges, wont care on the day, how many sessions you missed because the grey weather outside made you feel a bit sluggish. But it will show.
On the same note, if you do not wish to put in the hours needed to create your very best work. Then maybe do not apply for the competition, and leave the spot open for someone else who does. This may sound harsh but comps have limited spaces and there are hundreds of Pole’rs just dying to show the world their ultimate results gained from months of hard work.
2- Block out time, at least 3 months in advance of the comp date.
Yep, 3 months is the minimum time needed to create your piece. First month to put your routine together, second month for any changes you need to make, last month to proof it and condition your muscle memory and fitness level to it, so you will not be exhausted on the day and can perform it well. 4 weeks for each of the above is actually a tight deadline. This is why it pays to be pole training as often as possible anyway, even if there is no comp coming up that you wish to be in. As soon as one arrives, you will be ready to start training for it.
So calculate how many hours you can put in, in a week. Write it down,
stick to them.
Btw, the body results you will get from comp training will astound you! The thing I miss most from competing, is the fitness levels and muscle tone gained. Comp training could be renamed: 3 Months to Your Ultimate Pole-Body!
3- Chose your song wisely.
My advice is to chose a song you truly love and have never got tired of. You will be hearing it over and over, if you get sick of your song, it will be hard to carry any energy from it on the day. There will be no emotion to show, and the performance may look flat.
Also listen to your chosen song on earphones, and on loud speakers, and also quietly. How does it carry itself? Are there long sections of the song that not much happens in? Can you keep moving enough during that to hold the audiences attention?
Some songs are great for big show performances, some of great for small, close up audience gigs, some are huge, outgoing tracks that are great for competitions.
Also, do you know if you dance best to fast songs or slow ones? Are you an energetic, fast mover, or a slow slinky dancer?
Record yourself doing both if you are not sure.
4- Be prepared for `Head Trash`.
Unless you are used to competing from a young age (school sports teams, for example), you may find a few personal demons appear while you are busy finding out your ultimate potential. When was the last time you had the freedom to devote a ton of your day/weeks to becoming the best version of you, via something you love so much? What if you find out you are a thousand times more capable of what you thought you were? What will you do with all of that? That’s a whole new level of being you may not be prepared for? Yes, it’s a scary thought, you may find yourself pulling out all sorts of subconscious mental f***ery to keep you in your comfort zone. It will mess with your training and your routine.
I have been there. Usually in the last month of training, when my routine has come together well and I am conditioning to it on time. I become a brat, everyday, and complain to anyone who will listen about being `judged for my art by others` and that being judged on dance is a stupid endeavour, and that I don’t know why I am doing it. Obviously this was just a fear based reaction. Being judged on your own style by others pushes on your insecurities, even if it was you that put yourself in that position in the first place.
5- Competing is not performing, you are there to be judged and scored.
Remember this is a comp piece, not a show piece. You do not get 100% say in what you include. You may love booty work, but a 5min twerk routine will get you nowhere in a comp that asks for a well rounded routine. The best comps will have given you written information of what is required and what sections gain the majority of the score. Some comps make a third of scores for tricks and technique and a small portion for costume and theme. Some comps are equal across the score board for spins, tricks, dance and performance skill. Get hold of this information, and plan your routine accordingly.
6- Make a list of what you are excellent at, and anything else you wish to include that you will have perfect in a few weeks from start date. Stick to it.
It will be tempting to add new things into your routine last minute, that have not quite nailed yet, just because it feels/looks/seems a lot harder/more impressive than what you are already using. Don’t do it. You will score higher for a trick performed smoothly and with good form than a harder trick that took you a few shuffles and a worried face to pull off.
Definitely include dance, tricks and spins that you can knock out in your sleep and that you LOVE doing. Try finding out new ways into and out of them, a lot of comps score high for originality and unique transitions.
Be aware of your songs tempo changes. For example, it is always a let down to hear a song explode into the chorus and the performer dance as if that music change is not important, or isn’t even happening. Hitting perfect timing on your music with a dance move, or a trick landing, or leg hook, or a drop, for example, will make it easy for your audience and judges to be a part of the performance with you. And will score higher than a routine full of tricks the performer has had to concentrate so much to pull off, that the performance element is lost.
7- Performance face is key, proof your skills as many times as possible in front of people.
Your routine does not start from the neck down, what your face is doing is just as important as what your body is doing. (And also your hands, fingers and pointe`). Look up, acknowledge the crowd and the judges, emote what you are feeling via your face as well as your dance, throughout the routine. Now is not the time to be shy. To quote International Performer `Glory Pearl: “ You are not on that stage by accident.” Meaning you put yourself in that position, so do not look at the floor the whole time, being shy about your decision.
Proof your routine in front of your class members, your mates, anyone who will watch. Do not be picky about choosing who to show, different reactions and different faces to perform to will strengthen your confidence over time. Getting over the fear of proofing your routine in front of others will pay off before the comp date.
Rest is just as important as training, this will be an intense few months at least, take some time out so you don’t end up hating the process. But don’t get hung over and lose training days either. If you are using good form and warming up/cooling down then injuries will be unlikely, but rest is still important for a body that is going over repetitious `exercises` . Factor in some time for yoga, foam rolling, Epsom salt baths and eat well.
9- Use your instructor!
It’s what they are there for. Put the work and the money in. Try your hardest to exhaust your instructor with questions, innovative ways in and out of stuff, help with choreo and linking. And most of all share your head-trash with them, they have probably been through it, and want the very best result for you so will help you. Let them know when you want some time for quiet, self focused training or if you want them to watch all of it and maybe change something.
Do you want your Instructor to choreo the routine for you, or would you prefer to do it yourself 100%? All of this needs to be verbally conveyed so your Instructor can coach you in the best way they can.
Get in early with the coaching help. Try not to wait until two weeks before the comp to show your instructor your full routine, because if there is a lot that may need changing or tweaking, its too late.
Basically, make your instructor work as hard as you are working, and you can both get the best results possible.
I hope the above has answered some questions for you. And I hope that maybe you are inspired to take the leap one day?
`No person has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for someone to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.` Socrates.
Your Personal Pole Dance Trainer